Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Vast Haze Of Disco

To every generation a dance floor is born.

Matty pointed up at the spray of antlers (painted white and tangled together) that hung overhead. "Remember when they used to have disco balls up there?" I died a little inside. "They don’t have discos anymore." Matty is too young to have studied at Studio 54 or dined out of Danceteria. His baited questions were less about the subtle changes in nightclub decor over the decades and more a naked bid for blog attention. "I haven’t been on a dance floor since before mobile phones had cameras," he lied after a group photo flashed by an iPhone.  But I indulged. "No one calls them mobile phones, either."

Matty knows this. The more things change the more they stay the same. Although certainly you can get married and buy a house upstate and then feel very disconnected by a dance floor loaded with skinny people born in the 90s decked out in chunky wool sweaters. (Macklemore, if you are looking for those ugly Cosby sweaters you lifted from that thrift shop, they have been found!) I hope the fashion trend tonight was more about the woodsy theme of the club itself and less a harbinger of awful to come. But it’s probably a little of both.

Ben Harvey still does his Gumbo party and tonight was the annual holiday event at Aspen Social Club, a hotel lobby bar that hasn't decided if it is a sleek lounge or a 1950s natural history diorama. Either way, I love it, the Douglas Sirk of it all. (Editor's Note to Aspen: If you want to charge a king's ransom for a cocktail, don't pick up your cheap holiday decorations from Target). At last year’s event out in Brooklyn, Ben and I inadvertently took one of my favorite pictures ever: me filled with holiday cheer (aka yelling at Ben to get out of the way) while Ben yells back.


I hate having my picture taken and as I have gotten older, it is more and more an exercise in anxiety. The smiles, never warm and effusive, have grown increasingly tense and strained. And yet, ironically, I still prefer to muster these staged poses over the random results that can come with more casual, unsuspecting photos. Even though photos like the one from last year are the only photos I truly love because they show my true, horrible personality.

Radio Donny joined me tonight after the show. Last week, he finally went to the Boiler Room at my suggestion and even though it was everything I said it was (cheap drinks and horny hipsters), he came away disappointed. In that case, he had wanted to dance and that was not to the crowd’s liking. Boiler Room has no dance floor so I am not surprised. I mean, the place does has a pool table but I have seen many a dirty look cast at anyone attempting a game when it gets crowded, which is all time.

Donny said Aspen was "not the worst," which is pretty much his highest praise imaginable. It helped that we got there early and helped ourselves to a cocktail from the bottle Ben Harvey had at his table. And took a turn or two on the dance floor. We also saw some nice gays there, like Harvard Ryan (with his festive peppermint stick scarf) and Allen ("with the hair" said Donny who is also "with the hair" himself).
Hair and Hair Alike In The Photo Booth!
Lately, Donny has been on a new mission which I heartily support to find himself a wealthy gay. I am all for pulling together a third single and making a How To Marry A Millionaire adventure out of it. So we spent some time scoping the bar for said high end trade. Naturally, my instincts betrayed me (just like in the movie) and I took an interest in a guy named Matt with a little junk in the trunk and that junk was not a fat wallet filled with stocks and bonds.
Just Begging For A Gay Remake. I Mean. Come On!
Fat Matt had spun past us at one point which made me think he might be interested. But later, when we found him on the dance floor, it became Crystal Carrington Claritin Clear that he only had sloppy drunk eyes for Donny. This was to the extreme that when Donny left to pee, Fat Matt and his friends quite literally circled the wagons, all backs to me, with an occasional glance over Matt's shoulder to see if I was still lurking nearby.

As I relayed this story later to Brian Babst, with the understanding that some people might not regard my nightlife adventures as the gospel truth, I assured him that Donny witnessed the body language with his own lying eyes after he returned from the bathroom and before we immediately adjourned to the dance floor to dance our tears away.

As I was telling Brian all this, Fat Matt (increasingly blurry-eyed but still cute in his grey sweater) stumbled through the area and after he was pointed out, Brian was not pleased. "The datability of a man is in direct proportion to the length of time it would take to get him into shape." Brian insisted. Maximum allotted time: three weeks. That isn't even enough time for Bob Harper to come out in a motivational and tender way and still see results. Fat Matt was, it turns out, too fat to date, not that he had any interest to begin with (and certainly won't now).


I suppose I can’t be surprised that my reception inside the bar was as chilly as the night air waiting for us outside. The torch song has been passed to a new generation. I left my acrylic sweater in a time and space before Matt was probably born. When DJs spun vinyl records and ceilings had disco balls, even as we youngsters made fun of those who still called the club a disco. Even the venerable Roseland Ballroom, a dance staple going back to the real Depression this generation has worked so hard to emulate, will close next year. From then to now and through it all, the dance floor has remained, filled with spilled drinks, cautious glances, thumping beats, hopes and dreams.

I wish I could say we danced all night to the best song ever, but the crowd was mostly just taking up empty space. While Donny and I danced our hearts out to Work Bitch, I wanted to look around and see a shirtless muscle daddy huff poppers, not a barely legal twink in a grandma sweater refusing to dance when the beat beckoned.  Perhaps this new generation will discover the dance floor as we did and realize just how important it is. A place where we can all come together across the spectrum of time and dance without end. Or at least until it's time to move on.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So, your suburban life is really that busy that you have not posted in nearly three months? Or are you busy writing another book, God forbid? Mean Gene