Well now I have a live-in girlfriend, Robyn, so the chick-pickup is not relevant but the opportunity for vigorous exercise and spastic physical self-expression are, and so off we drove across town from an outdoor picnic in Santa Monica to Akbar, a well known hetero-friendly gay bar in Silverlake that I'd ducked my head into a few times when I lived a walk down the street from there for several years. I'd had no idea that they have a completely separate dance floor room and second bar on the opposite side of the structure. First we chilled in the main bar room, where the bartender made me a bloody mary with like a quadruple shot of vodka, for the regular price. Half way into the drink I was buzzed enough to start forgetting about my various general apprehensions and bullshit and start remembering how fun it is to be out buzzed on a Saturday night, be it at a gay bar, straight bar, mixed bar, industrial warehouse, sailing ship or underground missile silo. Soon they opened the door to the other half of the club and we were the first ones out on the dance floor. It was a medium sized spare black space with a couple of mirror balls hanging from the ceiling along with various other colored lights. The music mix was very 80's, rhythmic and upbeat enough to move to.
Before long we were joined by a rapidly increase throng of other dancing folks. Akbar being a fairly mixed type of establishment, there were some femme lesbians and straight men and women mixed in with the gay boys. What was noticeably lacking was the slight edge of macho meat-head threat that I had sometimes noticed at dance clubs in years past. Unlike the scenario spoken of in so many comedians' bits, of being hit on and treated like a desirable sex object in the gay club- of being treated like a "hot chick"- I just picked up on a vibe of calm acceptance and low-key respect. I knew I was not "man candy" to these Silverlake gays. I am not that good-looking, well-dressed or in ripped enough shape to stand out in any way in that scene. And I probably came across as pretty obviously not gay- especially with my girlfriend and her female friend. But I didn't need to be a drooled-on meat snack in order to feel good about myself. I just needed to dance and move and shake it out and drink that incredibly strong vodka drink and then have another. Soon the floor was a densely packed mass of dancing bodies, the music seeming louder, more intense, faster, more fun, our moves getting crazier, weirder, even less self-conscious, and simultaneously more aerobic and stylish.
The pattern from the two counter-rotating mirror balls created an illusory effect whereas if I just stared at one point on the floor it began to turn and move, a sensation similar to being on a light dose of mushrooms. We danced at the top of our lungs, moving as if we were dancing for Simon Cowell and a potential million dollar prize, using every limb and muscle we could think of, for a solid hour and a half. It was equivalent to a 90 minute boot camp but it felt like a walk in the park. The dumb new age/techno 80's rock hits, the vodka and the trippy lighting grabbed a hold and infused me with an electrical surge of muscle motivation reminding me, once again, why human beings in nearly all cultures independently developed traditions of vigorously manipulating their bodies in specific rhythms and patterns, usually to some sort of musical accompaniment. If someone wearing a ball cap and coach's whistle had tried to make me do one tenth as much physical exercise I would've viewed it as unconscionably excruciating torture. But there in the gay dance club on a Saturday night, with my girlfriend and her friend, moving and shaking like the demonically possessed, eyes stinging from salty sweat, it just had the inevitably natural feel of living... really living.