Looking for Mr. Goodtime

Can we change the world one pole dance at a time?

But it wouldn´t be on Saturday night. A commitment to attend a friend´s birthday party on Clematis Street would deliver me to not one but three bars that I´d recently written about, so the two-birds-with-one-stone option was out. After I filled my night with beers, shots, and some drunken girl-on-girl dancing with a good friend and an anonymous instigator, that night ended at 4 a.m. Sunday, when the colorful strobe and searchlights and swirling mirrored-ball reflections gave way to houselights and a different sort of dim bulb overhead: a realization that once again I´d gotten carried away.

When I awoke noonish on Sunday, after downing some pain relievers and coffee, I made plans for another Night Rider adventure. I extended an unspoken plea to the universe to kindly guide me to a unique good time. The universe spoke, and in a Jamaican accent, it said: T´day is Jah´s day. I and I say you should go t´Waterway Café, which´s blessed wit reggae.

OK, the bad accent told me it was the hangover rather than the divine that was doing the talking, but it did sound like my best option. Particularly since I was pretty sure -- not 100 percent, but pretty sure -- that the Sunday-night dance party, a venerable tradition at the Waterway, would not involve a stripper pole of any kind.

On the way, I called Christine, whose open house had drawn a healthy number of prospective buyers (thank you, Night Rider); she wasn´t up for another night out. Going it alone, I went to the airy waterfront bar, where I ordered a Broken Bridge -- a fruity rum, gin, and vodka concoction, named for the adjacent, ever-busted PGA infrastructure -- and positioned myself along the planters to nab the first vacant seat at one of the two large, hexagonal bars. It was, as always, SRO.

Lucky me, as soon as I found a seat, the band´s promoter found me. He began a relentless pitch about their talents, followed by equally unyielding dance requests and drink offers. My polite but firm ¨No, thanks¨ went unheard. When I tried an ethical explanation instead, suddenly we were on confrontational rather than common ground.

¨Who´s gonna know?¨ he challenged.

¨Exactly,¨ I said.

Good thing I didn´t take him up on the dance, because, even standing still, he was stepping on my toes. When the bartender arrived with my drink, I extended my credit card, but the promoter sent the barkeep away and pushed my credit card at me. His was a victory-at-all-costs philosophy, evidently.

Now, I wasn´t feeling so irie, which was too bad because I had actually been enjoying the band, Sweet Justice. The room seemed to sway with a feel-good vibe; even the candles´ flames seemed on board as the band sang Bob Marley´s ¨I Gotta Keep on Moving.¨

To make friendly conversation, I explained the drink´s significance to the dude drinking a Miller Lite next to me.

¨Woof!¨ I said, taking a sip of the potent concoction and holding out my drink so my neighbor could take a sip and understand my reaction.

He was a kindly-faced family man who didn´t want to give his name. So we sat there watching the sea of dancers, which when observed as a whole actually simulated the rolling of the ocean.

¨Everyone´s one,¨ Neighbor Man said, summing up the effect of their dance.

A dance can be a powerful persuasive tool. But this was a dance of a different sort: a pitching in rather than a pitch, a celebration rather than a sales attempt. And, like Saturday´s dancing, it moved me.

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