Friday, January 14, 2011

That's right the elevation

When was the last time I went to a gay bar -- or any bar, actually? Maybe that time when I went out with Randy, when was that -- six months ago? This time I’ve arranged an outing with three friends, we’ve planned it out so that we’ll get there right at 9 pm when the dancing starts, and then leave around 10:30, since none of us wants to be out late, but then it turns out it’s just me -- like old times, I guess. At first I figure I’ll take a cab, but then I realize this is one of the few places where I can actually get pretty easily on the bus, so I rush out to catch the 9:04. Of course I’m early, and I forgot how freezing it can be waiting on the side of the road without shelter, but then the bus comes, all the lights inside off but it does stop and I get on, the driver and the one passenger look kind of confused and “Shout Out to the Devil” is blasting on a sound system or some song about the devil, is that what it’s called? I’m laughing in the back, realizing I’m wearing all red and the heat on the bus starts to make me tired but then we’re there, just a block walk through the cold and I’m inside.

This gay bar looks like an upscale airport lounge, and maybe that’s exaggerated by the tall, skinny blonde woman bartender and there’s Justin, they haven’t started the dancing yet, and just as I’m taking off my 16 layers Jess shows up. He’s one of the people I called to invite, but he couldn’t come because he works early tomorrow but however, here he is! Of course he knows people all over the place since he grew up here and it even turns out that he was a candy raver starting around age 12, so we can talk about dance music, hello.

Conversations at bars are so strange, I mean conversations with the people you meet and you’re trying to assess whether there’s anything interesting about the conversation or that’s what I do, in between talking of course, and getting excited, and I realize I don’t really like talking about San Francisco but it keeps coming up because I say I just moved here. Then I hear all the connections -- some of them are interesting, like the person who says he lived at Post and Jones and I say that’s my favorite part of San Francisco and we seem to agree. But someone else asks me about the breakfast place down the street from me, always a line of tourists in the middle of the day and I say I never went there because I wasn’t one of those tourists. And he says he and his friends were the ones who made it popular, a dubious distinction to me for sure, and then he’s telling me he worked at Club Townsend, the Powerhouse, and the Café at the same time so he saw everyone in San Francisco and I say you must have done a lot of drugs. Later I realize that maybe I’m the one who started the tone of the conversation when I gave this guy shade about the breakfast place and it’s strange how sometimes shade feels like connection, not in this case but when I meet Desmond who says Mattilda, I must’ve heard you wrong! She’s a queen of a certain age and so I don’t hide that I’m incredulous that she’s incredulous and my queeniness in response to her feigned or maybe genuine confusion makes it all fun. Maybe it’s also because I can sense that she’s an outsider as a middle-aged black queen in Santa Fe who isn’t passing as middle-class like everyone else in the bar and I recognize people like her from the clubs I’ve gone to more than some of these other people, but anyway Jess even has a story about Desmond, who comes in to Starbucks where Jess works every day, first thing in the morning, and then sits there all day, knitting.

The downstairs is bigger than I thought -- I thought it would be the same size as the upstairs, but it’s probably twice as large -- sleek and clubby, everything all-black of course and the DJ booth kind of large in the back corner, blue lights flashing from up above. It’s quiet, just a few people -- Jess and I are the only ones dancing except then the music changes dramatically to something with a ‘70s flavor -- the kind of thing a DJ will play to get everyone onto the dance floor, but all it does is get us off. Jess goes home because he has to get up to go to work at 5:30, so then it’s me and Desmond and Justin comes on, a song about house -- and you know I like any song about house, and then it one point Desmond says jumprope! And we fling it for a few twirls, you see how we both know the ropes but I don’t want to get too carried away with my hands because then that would mean pain for sure and yes the beads are getting harder and this is when I decided to just let it go, flinging myself around the dance floor like I could flip or fall but I’m just in the music, two women are dancing on the sides, two fags in the corner and a few people sitting in the booths watching and I’m flinging it out, head down towards the floor and then body around, even onto the floor for a few stops and then up and swinging upper body into lower, twist around and around and then I realize I better take a break. Into the bathroom where my breathing is fast, that’s right the elevation, I’ll do a forward bend, this is when I better leave because I feel like I could dance forever, or maybe not forever but at least for a few more hours and then my body will be wrecked, I take my shirt off so I don’t get too cold, I mean the sweaty one, back into 16 layers and when I say goodbye to Justin one of the fags from the dance floor says you’re a great dancer, which is funny because I was trying to bring him into the movement and I thought he was giving me shade, I appreciate the affirmation because sometimes in a quiet room no not a quiet room I mean a room with space and beats where everyone is watching but you can’t exactly tell what they’re watching, sometimes I wonder if people are just thinking what on earth, what on earth is she doing, which of course some of them are not fine but I also do like hearing a little positive feedback, right? Justin says he’ll give me a ride, but actually I can feel my legs getting a bit tense, probably good to walk even though it’s a mile, and it is good to walk, until the last two or three blocks, but I was expecting that and then I’m home, better eat something, take a shower even if it will dry out my skin, I think this might have worked, this might have worked this time, please.

6 comments:

Mano said...

I am often at Rouge flinging myself around, so sorry to have missed your show i would have surly applauded.
Seems like an excellent sign of better health that you got out there.
Hope to meet on the dance floor somewhere soon. Actually i was hoping to see you tonight at Randy Millers class, maybe Sunday, did Jessica tell you about it?

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Mano, so lovely to hear from you -- no need for applause, company would be even more fantastic!

Today, unfortunately I feel HORRIBLE -- but, horribly exhausted, and not necessarily in dramatically more pain, so yes, hopefully that is a good sign, and yes yes, hopefully more dancing soon... Not sure I'll be ready for Sunday's class, however -- Jessica did mention it, but wasn't sure about the details and I don't see those details on the website either, if you happen to get this then do send a link if you're able...

Love --
mattilda

Mano said...

http://www.studioniasantafe.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=105&Itemid=119

Yeah no pain!!! That's what it's about.
Not sure i'll make it myself to this class tomorrow, still recovering from a wild night at Corazon Fri night.
I hope you will grab Jessica or she you and go to this.
You can get my # from her if you ever want a dance buddy for the club.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Yay -- thanks, Mano!

Love--
mattilda

davka said...

Where have I been? Reading on a computer screen makes benzo-taper detox symptoms flare up, so I haven't been able to read as much as i like, but I'm glad to be back- this writing stays with me for days and reminds me what's worth it about writing in the first place. Although, if I wrote like this, maybe I wouldn't forget.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Davka, good luck with the detox -- I've been thinking about you, actually, and my absence from your blog due to help, pain, help, but now I will surely have to catch up...

And, thank you so much for this:

"this writing stays with me for days and reminds me what's worth it about writing in the first place"

Love --
mattilda