Welcome, readers, to the inaugural issue of my blog. First, I must deliver a
MESSAGE FROM ALPHA CENTAURI
I want to have come unto your world
Like a comet, or better,
A wandering sun,
Spark of invisible systems,
Flashing a solar radiance
On the night sides of your eyes.
I want to burst through your bonds
Like a bullet, or rather,
A vagrant ion,
Quark of divisible atoms,
Leading fission’s chain dance
Out the rare earths of your arms.
So, hello. Next, you should know that the motto in the banner above is my new one for this eighth incarnation. For years I’d affectionately applied it to my mother, who square-danced vigorously into her nineties, and when she passed away recently, I had to accept that I’m now the old dame.
This motto was inspired by a small book by Don Marquis called “Archy and Mehitabel” (1927), the title characters respectively a free-verse poet reborn as a cockroach and an alley cat who is Cleopatra reincarnated. It’s adapted from a line in “mehitabel sings a song.” (Archy can’t type caps or punctuation.)
I first started dancing as a teen to the rock and roll of the mid-fifties, a rabid fan of American Bandstand with all the groovy moves. In my early sixties debauch in Latin and Greek bars, I danced mystical rituals in Dionysian ecstasy, proclaiming: TO DANCE IS TO REJOICE.
In young adulthood, comic-strip beagle Snoopy gave me a new motto: TO DANCE IS TO LIVE, which served well through the seventies. In my mature partnered years in Santa Fe, dancing was rare since nightlife wasn’t part of domestic routines. Once again a free (old) agent, in the early nineties I started dancing disco with the philosophical motto: I DANCE, THEREFORE I AM.
Now it’s: THERE’S DANCE IN THE OLD DAME YET!
For some years I’ve been going to the Rouge Cat and hoping my favorite DJ Oona’s “spinning.” For many years she did Trash Disco on Wednesday nights in various clubs, and I merrily did my thing wherever she reigned. Now she only does Saturdays and plays the good trashy stuff early on, switching at prime time to the contemporary style of music. (It sounds like a pile-driver on speed. Small wonder the young folks can’t seem to find a rhythm to dance to.)
Consequently, I sometimes resort to dancing to CDs at home in the hall, but I miss the synergy of the dance floor (and the volume). Curiously, there are some great dance rhythms in classical music, but a Beethoven symphony is exhausting for an old dame.
HIGHLIGHTS IN MY DANCING HISTORY
In high school in Arkansas, I appeared on the local television station’s teen hop. Somebody took several of us, including my sister Judy, to Texarkana to KCMC-TV. I was thrilled to dance in front of TV cameras just like the kids on Bandstand but didn’t feel any different for being televised. I now find a smug comfort thinking that those images of me rock and rolling are still radiating out through the universe, by now maybe approaching Alpha Centauri.
You wouldn’t think that in three years of almost nightly debauched dancing in New Orleans, I’d be able to pick out a highlight. But I can—it shines in my memory like a baroque altarpiece. Must have been Mardi Gras of 1962 when I went as a Cossack (actually the Russian poet Sergey Yesenin, husband of Isadora Duncan). At the end of the Third Room of La Casa de los Marinos, I danced transcendent cumbias and merengues on top of the roaring rainbow Wurlitzer with a beautiful Mexican boy in full mariachi finery—against a wall of swirling, dreamlike murals. Maybe I glorify it a bit, but that night was a joy one doesn’t experience twice.
After some years of marital immobility, in 1969 I suddenly found myself briefly alone and on the town in Washington DC. In a basement gay bar called Lou’s Hideaway right on Pennsylvania Avenue, next-door neighbors with the new FBI building and the National Archives, I danced with an exquisite Latino boy called Bolo to “The Age of Aquarius” and forgot all about being a married man. Again an unrepeatable joy. Let the sun shine in!
About a quarter-century later, after sublimating my dance first in running and then in working out at the gym, I met some young guys who took me on a trip to Key West. We went to a big gay bar—not the Monster, but which one I can’t recall—and I had an epiphany. To my utter amazement I found it now completely comme il faut to dance all by oneself. That night I danced up a seriously memorable storm of jubilation, and I’ve ridden its winds ever since.
Another night like no other was in 1997 after my younger daughter Aimée’s wedding when the party moved to the Drama Club on Guadalupe Street, then the hot gay spot in town, and made a splash in our gowns and tuxedos. The father of the bride danced solo on one stand, his nephew up on another with a drag queen named Gina, and his mother up on the stage with an older lesbian lady, while bride and groom and other family members kept lower profiles on the floor. Too bad no one took pictures!
Just one more. It was early on in this new millennium when the Paramount was still open, (its site now obliterated by the Santa Fe County Courthouse). For maybe six years it was the most fabulous dance bar with incredible Trash Disco on Wednesdays and wild weekends. Once I found myself more or less dancing with an attractive blond guy who never even looked at me, but his moves were finely in tune with mine, an exquisite communication. After a while I looked at him more closely, appreciatively, and recognized Leonardo DiCaprio—who danced away into the crowd without look or word. Silly as it sounds, I felt blessed.