Mike and I have been going to our dance place since 2014. Other people commit to being CEO by 40, running a marathon by 30, or some other foolhardy pursuit. Ours is dancing. We committed to becoming regulars, and so we did. Most Sunday nights we step into our little slice of heaven, having fun with our merry band of dancing friends, making new friends, and on occasion, impressing the young ones with our moves and our love of the music. I can tell that’s what they are thinking from the sidelines as they watch us and sip their drinks. Or that’s at least what they should be thinking.
But it isn’t all rainbow flags and unicorns. Sometimes people try to steal your scarf. Packs of straight people, who have no idea about the importance of a safe space for gay people, descend on us and stand in the middle of the dance floor talking, getting drunk and twerking, and then committing one of the most unforgivable of offences, hitting me with their silly purses because they are too cheap to pay $3 to check them. Meanwhile their menfolk stand around uncomfortably, wondering what they got talked into. All of this they could do in nearly any other bar in Boston — why invade our world?
Yes, it’s true, I’m straight, but I understand I am a guest here and respect the space and the people in it. If I want to do straight things, I do them in a different place. See how that works? Also, I enjoy making up a lot of rules other people should know because, I’ve been here longer and have more dance cred than you, oh-poser-having-a-one-night-dance-stand-you-won’t-even-remember-because-you’re-going-to-be-puking-soon. Yeah, that.
One week in particular was really bad. We were overrun with straight people. They were talking loudly over the music, and I can’t even tell you how that is possible. I have to wear professional custom earplugs and I could hear them. They formed their own little dance line, taking up half the space, not caring about the rest of us trying to bust a move. And of course, I got bumped multiple times with the stupid purses. And maybe that put me in a crabby mood, but the music seemed repetitive — how many times can you dance to the fast version of “Sweet Dreams (Are made of This)” while watching Annie Lennox wander around in the night in a white nightgown holding a lantern? I went home feeling as if there had been a shift in the gay dance Force, and not in a good way.
But then the next week, Stephen came.
Stephen, from my post, California Steamin’ was visiting our coast from that place. He is a New England native who got lured to California, and I’ve mostly forgiven him. He said he wanted to go dancing that Sunday. I’d had a long week and a busy weekend, and frankly would have been OK not going, but I had promised, and it was Stephen, who I don’t get to see that often. Also, I’m a committed professional, so my ass was on the dance floor.
I’m so glad I did. In being a regular, I had forgotten what a magical place our dance club is, even when it’s overrun by drunken, straight people. Stephen was having a great time, dusting off his considerable dance moves. After nearly every song, he’d say, “Oh, my god, I love this song! I haven’t heard it in years!” or “I love Annie Lennox!” And suddenly, Annie, floating through the night in her white nightgown, was transformed into an ethereal goddess of 80s music. And then I loved her too.
And I was transformed, remembering how lucky I am to have a safe place to dance to the 70s and 80s music that made me, with my dear friend and partner in living our best life, Mikey. And how lucky are we that we can share it with our friend Stephen?
Damn lucky, and thank you Stephen for giving me a fresh perspective and reminding me of that. Here are my beloved boys. Let’s dance.