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.


  1. I find the opportunity to re-invent yourself everytime you move (and to a lesser extent, with every new person you meet) down right miraculous. perhaps it's why I move a lot and constantly look to meet new people.

    you are who you are. regardless of clubbing or whatever. do what you enjoy.

  2. That's definitely been a nice thing about coming down here -- it's really cool seeing how differently friends in my new social groups perceive me from how my older friends must think of me. And yeah, it is great getting to experiment with new lifestyles and activities that you wouldn't have otherwise.

    But still. I miss bars.

  3. I am way too self conscious for dancing. Also, I am a graceless, hunchbacked potato on the dance floor. And I'm super judgmental. And I hate people. Because maybe they'll think I'm fat but SCREW YOU hypothetical stranger! I'm curvy and you had better get used to it! Um sorry - some pent up hostility left over from middle school dances.

    But I did spend an evening at Ringlers getting really blitzed with my cousins watching people grind on the dance floor. I also do not know how strangers choose each other, but there definitely must have been some kind of pre-grind agreement because I saw people get rejected. Around the time that I could have maybe started to see patterns, I had finished my AMF and I had the observation powers of a backwards pair of binoculars. (Please to keep in mind that though I am a tall and solid lady, I have a tolerance on par with that of a 95-pound Vietnamese gentleman of my/our acquaintance.) So if you figure it out, let me know. This has all the markings of a great ethnography!

    Also, my brother saw an actual dance off at a bar/club thing in Tigard. Let us know if you see any of those too!

  4. There are both subtle and not-so-subtle ways to present oneself to a stranger on the dancefloor- think jungle mating rituals among varying species of animals. There are also clear ways to accept or reject said presentation. Usually the male approaches the female and begins to dance near her. She will either choose to dance back or she will flatout ignore him. I have seen and done both, and they are both effective and socially accepted. Hope this helps give you a little more understanding into club mating rituals.


  5. Comments on ethnography and jungle mating rituals. All of a sudden I have an image of myself going onto the dance floor with a pair of binoculars and a pith helmet, Diane Fossey style, making field notes and reporting back to outsiders on the strange mating habits of the 20-something Angelino. Perhaps I chose the wrong field to study...