Finally, Friday. After a gratifying day at work, I tepidly looked forward to an evening of swing dancing. When the time came, like most with a leaning towards introversion, it took some doing to jazz myself up for the evening, but once I had rolled up my white dress shirt’s sleeves, and tied the tails at the waist in a knot, I felt instantly sexy, and instantly ready to enjoy myself. All it took was a little retro glamour and some winged-tip eyeliner.
I arrived downtown early, and took some time to sit on a city bench on a bridge. The moon hung over the river, glowing white, and trickling down into the water. After placing myself in the present moment, I approached the theatre.
I tentatively stepped into a darkened foyer that led into a hall, dimly lit by a popcorn machine. Beyond the dark were double doors that led into another concert room. I looked for a way upstairs, as that was where I needed to be. I was directed to the end of the hallway, where I found a greeter in a bright red vintage uniform, and an elevator emblazoned with an Art Deco design, “1926.” I was told the password to get into the Speakeasy, and was sent to the third floor.
As if synchronized, the elevator opened and my jaw dropped. The reception to the speakeasy was glowing bright reds and golds, relics from the 1920s scattered lovingly on end tables, couches the femininely curvy aesthetic from a beautiful and tumultuous time, heavy port red curtains cascaded from high windows. As the uniformed staff, in glitzy flapper dresses and sharply cut velvet jackets welcomed me, I felt rude to be speechless in return. I apologized awkwardly, and was directed to my table.
The Rockabilly band had already started, and they were electric! The band was costumed in their 1950s and ’60s throwbacks, while the dance floor was a blend of eras, ages, and nationalities. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Awkward young ones new to swing, and new to courting, coo’d sweet ‘oopses’ to their partners, elderly couples letting completely loose, low kicks and twirls, bright smiles glowing with old memories and present happiness. Everyone was dressed up, some to the eights, and some to the nines! Some in hoop skirts, others in flapper dresses, and the men looked dapper in shirts and ties, some in vests, and even oxfords and winged-tip shoes.
I sipped on the signature Prohibition Red, one of my two required items with no cover charge to see the band– and what a sweet deal that was! Later I followed it with a classic dirty martini– don’t forget the bleu cheese stuffed olives.
Between dancing, I chatted with friends old and new, five fantastic people. We all have our unique crazy, we’re artists, and we accept each other, one of the most genuine acts of love. I danced with my girlfriends, my guyfriends, and new friends, laughing and tripping and spinning on the dancefloor.
A new friend I’ve made in the recent weeks reminded me the importance of forgetting the oppressive ‘how’ in dancing. Our first dance, I felt stiff, and afraid to disappoint him, he a born dancer. Afterwards, when I voiced my lack of proper steps he reassured me that proper steps were over-rated. Our next dance was the exact opposite, the gentle reminder to relinquish control all I needed to lighten my touch on his hands, and let him gently angle my wrist in the direction of a spin, the movements coming naturally to the beat of the music. I shook my hips and raised my arms above my head, like a scene from Dirty Dancing, barely able to withhold the same chutzpah in a public place.
This community of dancers more than welcomed us. With a deceptively young twinkle in his eye for a man in his fifties, one patron enthusiastically approached us saying, “You two were a joy to watch!” And, upon formal introduction, he inquired as to what dance we had been doing, “Was that the Jitterbug or the Lindy Hop?” We laughed, it was apparent we knew the basics, but tonight we had been overwhelmingly making it up as we went along. He smiled broadly, generously adding “Well you two are great! Hope to keep seeing you around!” As the night wore on, everyone in that Speakeasy was on the same page, the audience whooping and hollering decibels inspired by liquid and unified courage.
“God, I love humans,” I whispered as we sat at our table, sipping our reds. “Yeah?” He asked, seeming to already understand. I crescendoed, “I love them so much that I HATE them when they hurt each other.” He laughed, endeared at my passion. He nodded. Breathy, I sighed, “When I can’t dance anymore, I’m gonna be the old lady sitting in that corner, sipping my martini, enjoying everybody.”