Tuesday, February 19, 2008

On with the show

By all that is pure and holy, I am not going to get in to clubbing. It is not who I am. I go to bars. I listen to Indie music and drink beer. I get drunk, form strong opinions, and debate important topics. Frequently in italics.

Mind you, I've made some concessions. I will dance now, with very little prompting and (almost) no alcohol. I make no claims to my skill level, but at least no one points and laughs. Or at least, they politely wait until my back is turned until they do so. I have lessened my alcohol consumption, to better deal with $10 gin & tonics (!).

Which is all by way of explaining why last Friday, I found myself sitting in a chartered bus with my friends, furtively drinking vodka from a water bottle as we navigated our way through the dirty streets of Hollywood, and I'm now writing my second post in a row about clubbing. UCLA views it as its solemn responsibility to turn its grad students into alcoholics, because grad school just wouldn't be hard enough if you weren't fending off substance-abuse problems at the same time.

After plowing through a remarkably long line (but no cover charge!), my friends and I found ourselves in Boulevard3, by far the swankiest of the clubs I've yet been to. White leather sofas. A courtyard with a firepit in the middle of a reflecting pond. An enormous dance floor with all sorts of crazy light-making devices.

Being the adventurous sort, I gamely threw myself onto the dance floor. "Not to worry," I told myself, "these are fellow nerds, and will accept me as their own." Well, they didn't shun me, but I clearly have a few lessons in dance-floor etiquette to learn. Like, how exactly one begins dancing with other people. I witnessed couples (previously strangers) dancing, so I know it's possible. But nobody came up and volunteered to dance with me, so I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong.

On center stage was a throng of dancers, including two who looked like they were not just there for fun. I say this because they were much better than the average dancers, not looking to dance with anyone, and wearing only underwear. Before I'd been given much opportunity to appreciate the sight, however, bouncers begin clearing the stage. Which might have caused me woe, had it not turned out to be prelude to an impressively-well-choreographed dance routine, the beginning and middle of which you may find documented above.

Not long thereafter, normal dancing having recommenced, the charmingly attired fellow visible at your left appeared on stage. As we walked closer to me, though, I became confused -- I couldn't see his legs, but it became increasingly clear that he was not, in fact, on the stage. Rather, I ascertained as he began to dance immediately in front of me, he was on stilts. The man turned out to be a constant sight that evening: frequently dancing but also, even more frequently, clambering about on random edifices and structures, stilts still attached.

I admit to being more than a little surprised by the evening's spectacle. The dance floor dripped with talent. In addition to the aforementioned acts, we were privy to a dance-off between a trio of amazingly acrobatic (and hot!) male dancers, and a woman who danced while suspended from the ceiling by some sort of lacy, gauzy thingy.

But, of course, the night had to end. We were ushered outside, piled into a bus, and returned to campus. And all I have left is the memories. And, of course, these pictures.

It was totally worth the four hours of sleep I got before my six hour hike the next morning.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Carnival!

You may not have been aware that LA has a pretty big Latino population. It's true! I suppose that, being at least somewhat vaguely aware of that fact, I should have been completely unsurprised that there are nightclubs in LA that cater exclusively to Spanish-language speakers. Well, you would be wrong. When my friend K invited me to go out clubbing with her last Saturday, I was slightly surprised to find that the club's website didn't even have an English-language version.

Which shouldn't have surprised me too much, I suppose. I mean, K is Bolivian, and the whole evening was intended to be a celebration of Carnival. Fortunately, my Spanish is good enough at this point that I could at least vaguely follow what was going on (although K had to keep me from raising my hands every time the MC prompted us -- "You're not Argentinian!" was a frequent refrain).

Lessons of the evening:

LA drink prices still suck. $11 for an AMF is unconscionable. Hell, I'm still pissed that $6 for a beer is cheap around here.

Dancing is fun. Dancing on stage is more fun. Getting kicked off the stage because you're not supposed to bring your drink up with you is not fun, but tolerable.

Brazilian Samba dancers are hot. I offer up, as paltry evidence, this crappy cell phone picture I took.



Oh, hell, just try to imagine it.