Friday night of Gay Pride weekend this year I saw Planet Booty at The Great American Music Hall, my neighborhood music hall. I didn’t get much sleep the night before so I was tired and had to be content just observing and head banging on the sidelines. Usually I prefer to be in the middle of the mosh.
Planet Booty was laying down a solid groove but no one in the hall seemed to be able to break at the waist. The pelvic block in the room was palpable. It dawned on me that millenials may not know how to dance. A lifetime of looking at apps in their laps had left them with no feel for the rhythm of life.
There was a kindergarten sense to it what they did, which may also have been the last time they were encouraged to use their bodies. We’re jumping! And we’re jumping! And we’re jumping! Sloshed childishness.
To their credit there was some creativity like the violent one shoulder twitch. Or the fire hydrant, bending the leg at the knee and doing repeated lifts. One heavy guy kept trying a drunken double dutch, elaborate cross over steps that he could sustain for about 4 seconds then would stop and start over again.
What was happening on the floor was in sad contrast to what was happening on the stage.
I stood there watching and let my mind drift off to Zimbabwe. The only time I’ve ever been white water rafting was on the Zambezi River in 1993. On one of the rapids I was thrown from the boat. Immediately I felt the serenity of floating backwards at high-speed in warm water. I was digging it until I heard the screams: “The rocks!” “Grab it!” I began flailing to catch the buoy on a rope so they could pull me back in.
That Friday night at Great American there was a woman dancing who honored me with arm movements I’d not seen since Victoria Falls.
Walking home in the 2 a.m. summer fog I thought maybe I was being too harsh on the kids. I was inventing excuses to dislike the techies just to rationalize leaving the City. I should play nice and accept that it was time to go. Fuck that.
Saturday I spent a beautiful summer day on the couch conserving senior citizen energy for Gay Pride Sunday. I had participated in one of the first Chicago Pride marches in 1971 but it had been 25 years since I’d been to one out here. That day in Chicago there was a real sense of relief for being able to walk 20 blocks without getting beaten up. Today’s pageantry does a much better job of capturing the essence of gay life with the drag, the bulges, and Gloria Gaynor for the trillionth time.
Still, 25 years was too long. I needed to check in and take the local temperature, preferably rectally. If nothing else I thought I might get the opportunity to throw a tomato at the Mayor.
Riding the Rapid the Natives Called the Devil’s Toilet