Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: Music

Disco, Part 2

I’m just going to say it: I am loving some of the new pop music today, if for one reason only, and that’s because it’s got the 70’s funk throwback in its underpinnings. We saw Bruno Mars in concert a month ago or so – he has the 9-piece funk band backing him up, choreographed moves and all. I recall a wonderful Doonesebury cartoon from my childhood, of a group of African-American men, the backup singers/dancers to an unseen singer. As they trade observations, the last words were, “Beats workin’ at the car wash.” My father seized on that line and it became interwoven to so many conversations and laughs over the years, somehow I’ve mashed that into a connector, the kind that tug unexpectedly at your heart. That happened that night at the concert, as Bruno sang “Treasure”, and his backup crew bounced and slid and bobbed in unison, the joy in the music and “Beats workin’ at the car wash” was in my ear and tears filled my eyes, tears of happiness for the connection and memory, tears for the loss of a great, great man.
Bruno’s not alone – Capital Cities is infused with 70’s beats and even nods at the era in their video for “Safe and Sound”, with tube-sock clad roller skaters grooving in unison. Justin Timberlake’s newest pop hits all have a blend of horns and funky bass lines. If you eschew “pop” because it’s too bubblegum, you’re missing out on some nicely retro-feeling tunes!

Bruno’s Treasure video – it doesn’t get more Jackson 5 than this!

Capital Cities – Safe and Sound

Won’t You Take Me To…

Oh my. Funky Town, the dance club melting pot, located in glamorous Raytown, MO has long been a destination for people in KC. I remember seeing it when I first moved here, from an errant exit onto 350 Highway instead of remaining on 435. I knew people went for the disco, and to party in large groups, but I’d never made it there myself, until last night.

That place is something else. I think I had a goofy grin on my face at least the first 20 minutes, because it was a feast to gaze upon. Talk about a cross-section of life! I’d say the average age was around 40, so at least I didn’t feel awkward or -cough- old, and you could not have gotten a greater mix of types of people – races, heights, weights, ages, dress, fashion-sense, all mixing it up on the dance floor, or in a dance cage, or on a light-up dance box. Granted, it was still predominantly white, but it definitely felt like a representative population slice of the entire city. I think I got most mesmerized by the group sitting front and center to the dance floor, and it quickly became clear to me these were Regulars, with a capital R. The motley assortment tended to line dance to most of the music, all eyes upon their leader, a skinny, middle-aged man in baggy jeans (not sagging, just 80’s bagging) and a 2013 Tate Stevens t-shirt who determined which line dance they would do and began each dance with an emphatic flourish and a clap. The others fell into place around him, and then even others, not part of the head table, would jump in and out, swinging a right leg forward and back, a little Saturday Night Live disco jab to the sky upon completion of one set.

Then there was Disco Stu. The name was suggested by my friend John, there with his NOW fiancee, Heather, and another couple. (John told me last night that he was going to propose today! I won an Oscar for disguising my happiness while still conveying it, and while it would have really been epic had he done it at Funky Town, perhaps they will have their reception there.) Anyway, back to Disco Stu. He had a glorious smile on his face, joining the line dancing to some of the songs, dancing to his own drummer on others. At one point, he got up on the light-up box, and as I watched, the gravitational pull of his fellow line dancers turned his freeform steps into a synchronized, albeit elevated, line dance all on his own. Later, I saw him dancing rather suggestively with a middle-aged blonde woman, and all I could think was, “Heeeey, get it!”

People in their 60’s showed some magical dance moves while others seemed to do no more than shuffle from side-to-side. Most people shout-sang along to the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s tunes, forming large circles that shifted back to their smaller group sizes. One young man, I imagined to be an IT professional by day, writing code and pushing his square black glasses up on his nose, demonstrated some fancy foot work, attracting the attention of two women (my age) who gyrated and sandwiched him repeatedly, perhaps viewing him as a veritable fountain of youth. He did not appear to mind one bit.

The bonus part of the evening? A full-on Michael-Jackson inspired floor show (EVERYONE GET OFF THE DANCE FLOOR) to Thriller and then some. Zombified dancers hit the floor and performed some awesome, choreographed moves (I confess, I looked around to see if Tate the Line Dance Leader might have transformed into Michael, and I still can’t confirm they are two separate people.) Everyone shouted and cheered, and returned to the dance floor with gusto when it was over. (Now through the end of October, and apparently they have a mega costume contest on the 24th, and I kind of want to go. I can create a killer costume!)

I think the best part about the entire experience was that the place is without any pretense. Nobody cares. Everyone’s having fun. It pretty much doesn’t matter if you can or can’t dance, if you look a certain way or weigh a certain amount or dress a certain way (though I did get very confused and thought a woman was not wearing any pants; the black lights do a number on certain colors, and her shrimp-colored leggings were transformed and seemingly disappeared!) As John put it, “Out there (in the rest of the world), I’m like a 7. In here? I’m an ELEVEN!” It’s not that there aren’t gorgeous beautiful people there (there are! I was terribly envious of the 6’+ blonde with legs that probably ended at my shoulder height, in her heels and short black shorts.) It’s just that – again – nobody really cares. For once, a place where your attitude counts – and outweighs – the superficial.

Written Saturday, publishing late late late so no beans get spilled on the proposal. 🙂
Funky Town
8300 Blue Pkwy
Kansas City, MO 64133

Reclaiming One’s Youthful Spirit

Yeah, that’s what it’s called. We went out to The Brick last night, had a blast – caught the tail end of Howard Iceberg & the Titanics, saw our friends Hillary & Tommy perform in their band, “The Hillary Watts Riot”, and then our friend Camry was in the last band, “The Sexy Accident”.  Since the first band was slated to start at 9:30, I knew we had plenty of time to get there, so we went out to dinner at The Beacon on the way there. It’s weird to go out to dinner at 9 pm in the Midwest, and while I’d been pining for Chai Shai, their kitchen closes at 9. In any event, we had a great meal, headed down to the Brick, saw people, were seen, made new friends, had a great time just listening to music, sipping a beverage, people-watching. I also did an amazeballs job of parallel parking, if we’re recounting ALL the wins of the evening.

At one point, I leaned over to James and said, “OK, wearing a kilt is cool. Very cool.”

pause.

“But if you’re also drinking PBR when you’re wearing one, does it make you a hipster?”

He laughed, and while he couldn’t say if that particular formula was a hipster recipe, he did observe there were a number of hipsters around us. (In the wild! I felt like Jane Goodall.) I said, “Am I a hipster?” and he laughed even harder.

“No.”

“Why not? It’s because I’m fat, isn’t it. You can’t be fat and be a hipster, can you.”

Maybe part of being a hipster is caring a little too much about how you… present oneself, all the way down to what you drink and the brand of shoes? I dunno.  I did feel like I really needed about 3 large tattoos to “blend in”, that’s for sure. And the dogs were completely perplexed by our atypical hours – what is this, 2:30 a.m. and you’re just going to bed?

Well, they sure didn’t hold back at 6 am, 7 am, and finally I gave up around 8 am and hauled my un-hipster ass out of bed to let them out, make coffee & head to the garden to collect a basket of veggies to whip into a mega-breakfast scramble. Now, I bet on the cooking front, I can outpace any damned hipster there is. I sauteed home-grown garlic, onions, kale, peppers, tomatoes & tossed in some potato, eggs, spicy beef sausages & cheese for a smashingly flavorful, vitamin-packed breakfast.

Oh, and I had to take a two-hour nap before we could even go out. Definitely not a hipster.

Hook, Line & Sinker

The Wo and I went to Red Snapper for dinner the other night, before heading over to Starlight to see the Night Ranger, Foreigner & Journey concert. It was more of a “listen”, since most of the original band members are long gone, but they’ve gotten good replacements and all the songs sounded just like they did on the radio, 20+ years ago. Journey, of course, was the most fun – lots of tunes that take you back to being young and clueless, though I think “Don’t Stop Believin’” is now associated more with the Sopranos than anything else. It was bittersweet, because I listened to Journey’s Greatest Hits album a ton after my dad died, so even though I had the association of songs with being in high school, I also had the correlation to driving around and crying. Anyhoo, it was nice to have my husband’s arm around me as the crowd swayed, real lighters were held up to the sky, and we all sang along to those familiar songs.

But back to dinner. I opened my fortune cookie first, and it said “Happy news is on its way to you.” I read it aloud, said something to the effect of “That’s good,” and waited to hear what the Wo’s was. He opened his, read it, and then said, “You will be the bearer of happy news.” I was like, ZOMG! That is SO AWESOME! And he studied his for a little while longer, and then tossed it down.

I eagerly snatched it up, because if that was not a picture opportunity waiting to happen, I don’t know what is, and immediately my brow furrowed, because I could see his fortune had a LOT more words than what he’d spoken. “Dude. What the hell. That’s not what your fortune says.”

He didn’t even realize I’d fallen for it! But I had. While he laughed, I explained, earnestly, why I thought it was SO EPIC, and yes, I was disappointed because, DUDE, the universe was saying HAPPY NEWS IS COMING, and while I don’t put much stock in fortunes or horoscopes, I was entertained that we would manage to get such symbiotic messages.

Alas, it was not to be. But, I’m ultimately an optimist, and I’m also pretty confident – so I actually know some good news will be coming my way really soon, and if a slip of paper wants to echo that sentiment, excellent.

I realize I’m a slacker with my blog. I think part of me was surprised to discover people read it? I mean, I know my friends sometimes read it, my husband keeps up, family does here & there, but after several people told me randomly they follow my blog, I realized I started writing (and not writing) with the audience in mind, deciding how much I did (and usually didn’t) want to share. I guess that’s the thing about blogging, huh? You go out on the front porch & play your banjo, and you just don’t know who-all is listening. Most of me doesn’t really give a shit, but the part of me that’s been stepped on, blindsided and where the memories of the personal hurts reside? That part has held me back. It’s not about work, really, it’s not about politics – it’s just…. finding the balance of giving, taking the time to find the words, deciding if something’s REALLY that funny, or did you just have to be there?

But then I look over my shoulder, at even just the past few weeks, and I think, ok, haven’t blogged about the Caffeine Crawl. Haven’t told you about how I went to prison this summer (just visiting!), haven’t chortled at the misfortune of those who deserve it (well, ok, maybe that’s one of those things I shouldn’t share…too often.) Sometimes I want to use my blog to twist the knife, because if you’re really still reading it, I want you to know I think [your baby is ugly] [your husband thinks you’re nuts] [you’re the reason you’re unhappy] [man I can be a bitch]…. ha! So I edit myself. It’s the long pauses in my head, the ones that took me so long to recognize and hear, that say “Don’t say that out loud.” or “Maybe just let that go.” But typing those things out sure did make me laugh.

Maybe that’s all part of it, too. The Wo and I have been together over 11 years. We have thousands of inside jokes accumulated, and it’s one of the elements of our marriage that I treasure – we know how to make each other laugh, we know how to prank each other, and it’s never done with malice.

And it’s why, as we were standing side-by-side under the stars, singing “Faithfully” in a sea of 8,000 people, that when we got to the part in the song where he sings, “I get the joy of re-discovering you…” I started to shake. Wo was alarmed a bit, at first, thinking perhaps I was having an Emotional Outburst. But instead, I was shaking with laughter, thinking of our dog Tripper, who, whenever we pull out the couches and chairs and unearth the bones of days gone by, seizes on one with great gusto, and as only this dog can do, rockets it all the way to the back of his jaw and rolls it while biting at it, resulting in the stupidest dogface ever, combined with a crazy rattling sound of bone-hitting-teeth repeatedly. The first time it happened, James said something about them rediscovering the bones, and I immediately started singing, “I get the joy of rediscovering bone,” to that very Journey song. Because that’s what we do, song-association, all the time.

The girl can’t help it.

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