My husband was out of town with his other wife the Army again, and naturally there was a band I wanted to see. I first saw Cigar Store Indians, a rockabilly band, probably in the late-90s during my swingdance phase. They are from Crabapple, GA, which it turns out is just north of Atlanta, where I moved about 16 months ago. They were playing at the Star Bar in Little Five Points, where we'd recently seen Southern Culture on the Skids, so I knew what environment to expect and that there was a parking lot and I wouldn't have to walk very far unescorted. So I psyched myself up for it and went out alone. This is not something I have done often, but I have done it. I'm an introvert, remember. I wasn't just going out to meet up with friends. I didn't have the excuse that I was traveling on business.
I've really been wanting to swingdance again lately; it's been a while. I was hoping maybe I could find somebody to dance with last night. If you are at an event that is not billed as a swing dance, you can often still identify other dancers by their shoes. It's true. So to help potential partners identify me, I wore saddle shoes.
Now, I've believed for years that shoes can have a certain mojo, but that was all due to my fuzzy leopard-print, extra-hi-top Chucks that I bought in London. I credit/blame them for some adventures involving a dude with a blue mohawk, but that story will have to wait for another time. But this night, my black and white saddle shoes worked their own little magic, even before I clicked them together three times.
I felt rather self-conscious when I entered the bar at around 9:20. It turned out the band wouldn't start for another 40 minutes, I think, but it was late enough that there were no open stools at the bars, and yet early enough that very few people were standing in the open like me. I tried to find an out-of-the-way place to stand where I drank my Newcastle and of course made a little origami crane out of the label.
Were people noticing that I was a chick out in the bar alone? Maybe they would think I was just waiting for my friend(s) to show up. As more people filtered in, I hoped I was at least not sticking out like the man in the khakis and navy blazer. (Did he just come from the country club?) I finished my beer and the band still hadn't shown signs of starting, so I went to the Ladies' Room and then got another beer.
Then this really tall, black-haired chick in all black comes up to me telling me how she loves my shoes.
"And they look good on you!" she adds, gushing.
I'm like, "Thanks!" Then she asks my name and shakes my hand and tells me her name is Chastity. Then she departs and heads towards the door, like she's friends with the doorman.
Ok, well, that was encouraging at least. I stand there another five or ten minutes, and the band looks as if they are finally beginning to start. Chastity comes back up to me and introduces me to her friend, though I don't think I caught her name. Well, the friend says hi and immediately PUSHES me all the way to the front of the stage - you know, past all the tall fuckers who have started to converge - and straight up to center stage. So I'm laughing and I say thanks, and the band starts. And that's where I spent the whole show, front center stage.
There were a few times when people with cameras asked to get in front of me, and I said of course, and they were always very polite and left after a few minutes. This one chick was like, "You're so little. Stay there!" and then this other chick was also gushing over my shoes. (People, it's called the Internet. They're not hard to find.) But I did keep turning around looking behind me to see if anyone was swingdancing. I think I saw a couple in the back maybe do one dance, but that's it. So I never did get to swingdance, but I had just about as much fun dancing by myself center stage.
Yet all those times I kept turning around, I never saw Chastity or her friend again.
Angels. They were angels!