Beth once told me in a serious way that I was filled with a kind of glowing exuberance, and she hoped that one day I would let it out; I feel that some of that breaks out when I am dancing (and this is possibly confirmed when someone asks what planet you are from). It's the best feeling to be dancing to excellent music with people who are clearly enjoying themselves and responding energetically.
Dinner tonight was at the Bridgeport Brewing Company. It's located off on the far end of downtown in an area which feels just the tiniest bit sketchy as you wander about it. Inside its high-ceilinged interior there's a medium-volumed babble and we all stood around near our private room talking in small huddles. The form of it was reminiscient of networking events, except that everyone was already networked. Eventually we broke into the food: spinach-walnut-feta-cider salad, maple-walnut-halibut, butternut-squash-potatoes, &c. Truly excellent. Michael B. sat across from me and explained how he'd finished a PhD in CSci, organized a few hack-a-thons, and then been hired by SecondMuse to help organize the biggest hack-a-thon ever. We chatted about color-blind accessibility, Chicago, the web stack, and our 12-year-old developer with the folks from PurpleBinder.
And this could have gone on for a while, but Saturday nights are for dancing. Just a few weeks ago, getting to the dance would have been a marathon session of public transit mishaps, but Portland has Car2Go, so it turned out to be much easier. I called them up, a rep answered, told me where the nearest car was, and stayed on the line while I sprinted five blocks to get ahold of it.
Minutes later, cruising down the interstate with unfamiliar buildings and places going past me, I felt a great sense of freedom. I've spent years traveling via every method except cars and now, by dint of having a license, there are places available to me that would not otherwise have been accessible. And being surrounded by the unfamiliar and going to a place I've never been before; that's the best.
Still, there are limitations, the parking boundary for the Car2Go is about a half-mile from the Fulton Community Center where the dance hall is. The air outside is brisk and I again regret not having brought a few more warm things with me, but isn't that the luck?
Inside, the dance hall's long and narrow with a high ceiling, and the dance is just getting going. The crowd's mostly older with a significant group of teens (it turns out there's a birthday party) and a few college students mixed in. And everyone's very welcoming. During the break a gang of them approach, along with two men in Hawaiian shirts who each must be a half-foot taller than me (this never happens!) and invite me to “play” with them. The game, as it turns out, is to randomly swap partners and gender roles throughout the dance (to the confusion of those who are not playing the game). And so you'll be walking in to alamande with someone only to have them suddenly tugged away and replaced with someone else, or you'll be dancing in one direction and feel a tug on your shoulder which redirects you to an entirely different part of the dance.
Mid-way through this dance “Becca” asks, during a balance, if I'd like to do the next one. Out in Vermont there'd been a lengthy discussion about how this kind of “booking ahead” can poison the atmosphere of a dance, but that was in relation to situations where most everyone was doing it all the time. Is there some lower prevalance where it is acceptable? Regardless, it feels nice to be asked, and Becca ends up having good frame, a tight form, boundless energy, and the ability to seamlessly switch roles, which makes for an excellent time. I also have a dance and, later, a waltz with “Liz”, who exudes a contagious happiness, engages in a bantar of facial expressions, expresses a personality that makes the experience of dancing with her absolutely positive, and carries herself with a poise which she claims comes from having studied ballet when she was much younger but which leaves one suspicious that she moonlights ballroom. When I ask how long she's done contra she says this is her second dance. I'm still convinced that anyone can dance, but the weight of the evidence suggests that for some people, such as her, it's a native quality.
Afterwards various people invite me to other dances and are disappointed to learn that I am only passing through. Nonetheless, I hope to be back.
My Car2Go's where I left it and the journey to downtown's uneventful, though I have to roll down the window and ask many people where Powell's Books is before I find the hotel.