We were young then, on a three day dance bender. Bright young things from all corners of the country had come to dingy Omaha and the dingier Eagle’s Club to dim the lights and tear up the floor. The Club was nasty with sticky, matted red carpets, a strange taxidermy eagle over the unused bar, clunky electronic dartboards on the walls. Folding chairs, folding tables. But the dance floor was rich, clean and glowing with heat. And the dancers were flush and fresh. I wore a skirt and high-heeled shoes.
The atmosphere was raw and spiritual – bodies moving and minds following. Movement preceding and replacing thought. Some of those hard-line societal expectations were hiding in dark corners, not touching me, I think. People were free to feel savage and only slightly sane. Nice clothes, dark eyes, shoes being the most important thing. I walked and danced among them and with them. I was a being of expression and I could touch anyone and they could all touch me.
All the light came from the band. The Hot Club – a Django gypsy-jazz band – was guitars and stand-up bases, clarinet, accordion. A handful of young men with old souls. Time-travelers. Their stomping feet set the meter of the pumping of our hearts.
We swung out. Smiles, heels, all of us moving, breathing, creating art as experience together.
Saturday night the energy apexed to a peak at pumpkin time, the band riding hot like a hell train full of spangled troubadours, thrusting inward and inward exploding exploding. We were drawn in like moths to the light, crowding in close, pulsing like all the blood in our ears. The sound and fury escaped through a tiny hole in the crowd. And from it were born dancers who emerged like fire. Swing out after swing out they danced like tigers. The jam circle grew around them.
The tigers traded their crazies in that pit, its walls a percussive force of elbows and palms. Our clapping was thunder chasing the guitars and the horns. When the bodies were spent, and the dancers melted back into crowd, our minds fled – no! – flew to the men with the music. The sound built higher than I thought it could go and in a feeling, a feeling, a feeling acquainted with orgasm it plummeted into a pool of pleasure and anguish. All ears to the horn. Chests in close. A baleful peal, love and anger in a glorious minor key. Silence. The torturous agonizing silence. And then with a slow thrumming from the bass, the slow slapping on the side of a guitar, the blessed sound came back. Slowly at first. Achingly slowly and quietly. But then it built. It accelerated and the band gathered power. The melody heated up again, that clarinet mad mad mad, the bass quaking like a god of thunder. We shouted in time with the music. The sound was back and we were resurrected. Our bodies lived again, and we lived and died by the four four time in that dark dance hall.Tagged with: Lindy Hop • story