Thursday, July 14, 2011

Less abandoned

Did I tell you about these pianos on the side of the tourist strip, painted wildly and just sitting there on 16th Street, waiting for anyone to play, play – actually kind of friendly for street musicians, right? Anything for the tourists – Denver loves tourists, that’s for sure. An amusement park right downtown? Sure, fireworks every night, 365 days of the year! What do you mean the neighbors complain?

Denver is a noisy town, that’s for sure – the coal train going through the middle of the city, blowing it’s horn all day and night, or maybe not all night but into the night and then early in the morning. I wouldn’t have known it was a coal train, except I read about it in a letter to the editor, the person wasn’t complaining about the coal train but the fireworks and they mentioned the coal train just to show that they were okay with noise, just not something so useless and stupid and wasteful I guess, although they didn’t say that exactly. Or anything about mining, did I mention there’s a big statue of someone digging for gold right outside the building where I’m staying? Maybe 20 or 30 feet tall and he’s got a big chunk of gold in his hand, one of the lucky ones I guess.

I don’t notice the noise from the fireworks so much, just the smell of all that burning. But then there’s the noise from the construction, pounding and drilling and grinding into my head on the balcony. Even the buildings are noisy, exhaling through all their vents even when no one’s around, or maybe that means I’m used to the quiet in Santa Fe. I mean I was used to the quiet, that’s for sure. I’m looking forward to that quiet again, at least for a little while, don’t remind me that I have to figure out where I’m moving next.

I’m on my way to the big club in Denver, past the pianos that are covered up at night in plastic sheaths, protected from the rain and non-tourism-related uses. Past those loud buildings, down Broadway and past the guy who says you dropped your head -- no, that’s a few days later, on 16th Street again, crowded with more workers than tourists on a Tuesday morning, really morning, sometimes when someone says good morning, I think they must be on a late schedule too, but then I remember oh, I’m not on that schedule anymore. So it’s Tuesday morning and this guy is giving me shade, says it under his breath so I can wonder did he really, and what is he commenting on, anyway? The purple velvet hat, and whether it matches or clashes with the purple plaid belt definitely clashing with the plaid shorts blending into the magenta tank top?

But if I did leave my head on 16th Street, and you happen to see it there, please do give me a call. My number’s on my website, but anyway I’m on my way to the big club, in a neighborhood that I hope people don’t really call SoCo, South of Colfax, all the clubs in a row in an otherwise abandoned strip I guess, that’s what I learned from a flyer that led me to a website, even if I couldn’t figure out how much this club would cost I figured I’d better go, just to see, because it starts at 4 pm and it’s on the roof, so even though I’m sure there will be tons of smoke at least it will be outside so maybe it won’t destroy my life quite as much, can we hope?

Let’s hope. So I’m walking through the rain yes rain I do love rain, I mean when it’s like this, soft and soothing so I don’t get too wet, just walk faster down the abandoned street, hoping it doesn’t get too hard before I arrive. I almost took a shower before going out, to look fresh and sassy, right? But then I remembered oh, when I go dancing right after washing my hair, all the sweat makes my hair a mess so it will be better after four days of not washing my hair, cute little curls that look like I’ve spent a lot of time sculpting, keeping them in shape, but really it’s just the glamour of grease, the humidity here, no one needs to know, and then when I sweat it will still look fine.

Here I am – oh, good, it’s free. Perfect – I was worried I would be tempted to spend $20 to stay somewhere for 20 minutes, but inside I go, through the empty downstairs and up into the stairwell, and yes onto the roof, which is huge, I mean I guess it’s the same size as the floor below although not empty or painted black but super-designy with white booths that go all the way down the middle, a bar at the end and on the side, and some areas with raised glass garage-door-type ceiling pieces that shelter from the rain. It’s pretty crowded, and not as uniform as I expected. Everyone’s in little clusters – circuit boys in the front, poking dollar bills at the stripper’s ass; a little group of 1989-style preppies, tailored khaki shorts and floppy hair; some straight-acting baseball cap types; a muscly guy with a newsboy hat who kind of cruises me or maybe he’s just staring; a group of dykes in matching tie-dye outfits; some stylier post-L Word dykes who I try to get to dance with me but they’re staring at the other stripper. He’s inside, so he’s not getting as much attention as the other guy was, even though he’s a much better dancer, working street trash with the backwards baseball cap and the wild moves and this fancy woman who reminds me of some of the people I used to go to clubs with in high school, especially because she looks Persian and like most gay clubs this one is almost all white but anyway comes up to me and says: get up there with him, I heard you’re good!

No one’s dancing really, just drinking and watching the strippers, now there’s a skinny woman on the platform outside instead of the circuit boy, shimmying while this drunk, grinning 40-something woman in casual business attire is taking a full-length video of her, you know she’s gonna put it up on Facebook or something and not tip the woman even one cent. Oh, and the music – not worth talking about, although the sound system is certainly loud. I walk around a few times, which takes longer than it sounds. Oh – and don’t forget the hairstyle fags, mullethawkish, I guess there’s just one of those but he’s pretty cute. And, one super-tan puffy muscleboy with his shirt off and a cowboy hat. Oh – and then three guys arrive in their gay rodeo outfits, complete with their big white numbers still pinned to the back, realness I guess.

Yes I keep dancing a little, seeing if anyone will join in. This one sporty dyke shakes it for one moment, but then she just wants to know if I’m on drugs, everyone always thinks I’m on drugs. It’s okay if you are, she says – maybe I am. Then she wants to know if I’ve tried Molly, like ecstasy except you’re not out of control, or TCI, which is like TCP but not so shaky. She doesn’t like to get shaky. And then I notice people are starting to dance inside, which might be even more dangerous than all the smoke outside, since it does blow that way, right?

“Express Yourself” comes on – yes, that’s what the music is like. But wait – does Madonna really say “Express yourself – ‘cause baby you were born this way” – no, that must be a mix with the other Italian stallion, yes Gaga herself in all her pandering and of course here’s where everyone gets excited but the moment you won’t believe what comes later, when I’m dancing to “Groove Is in the Heart”—yes, that Dee-lite monstrosity that I’ve complained about for decades now, yes literally decades, right? But now I don’t go out, and I need to dance to something, since I’m here ruining my sinuses anyway and so then I just go there, kind of amazing the way I can blow it out just like that, to music I don’t even like, with people who aren’t giving me anything, at least for a few minutes.

There’s this one older woman with dyed red spiky hair and a flowing ‘70s disco outfit that could be from her closet way back or could be from Nordstrom, let’s say her closet way back because I like her – she’s smiling so big and she comments on the sequins lining my tank top, she has sequins too, bigger than my purple ones but silver. She’s twirling around and then she takes my hand and the hand of the tall preppy guy right near me, twirls us together which is super-sweet, thoughtful in that way that could only mean she noticed the way he was watching me, from all different angles on the roof, big white polo shirt and bigger eyes, but then he entered the dance floor right next to me and turned his back. We all get shy like that, so I try not to take it personally – dancing with him is fun for a few moments but he can’t do much more than stare at my crazy moves, drunkenness and crashing from who knows what I mean he might know, that’s what makes his eyes look so big I realize now although he does have some cute floppy moves with his hands and it’s time for me to go because I’m getting too wild, I’ll tire myself out and then I’ll be a wreck, but first I notice these two people pointing and laughing in a booth so I go over to them: what are you laughing at?

Not at you, one of them says – her! And that makes me sad because she’s the best thing about the place, the woman in the flaring ‘70s silk pants, so I go right back to her and shake it out for one more song and then down the stairs to the bathroom to wipe the sweat off my face, back onto the street that now feels wider but less abandoned.

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