Bounce with me (333rd new thing).

August 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Big Freedia played at the EARL on Day Three Hundred Thirty-Three. Unfortunately, I was in a highly responsible mood and decided that having to work at 7AM the next morning constituted staying in that night. However, the New Orleans native announced that one of her dancers would be giving a “Sissy Bounce” dance lesson. This was so outside my realm of normal that I couldn’t not do it.

I brought along my friend Aimee for the adventure, a New Orleans native and sister to Andre. Plus she laughs a lot, so I knew no matter what happened, it would be fun. I asked both her and Patrick what one wears to a dance class in the backroom of the EARL and both shrugged and figured wearing something you would be seen in at the show later seemed appropriate. Jeans and sneakers.

Aimee and I met up at the bar a little early to imbibe and dull our nerves before the class. We mocked a girls sitting in the corner, yoga mat in one hand, giant bottle of water in the other, workout gear from neck to toe. “Ha,” we chortled, “Check out the NERD.” And since Aimee, as a New Orleans aficionado and therefore expert on all things Bounce laughed with me, I knew we had made the right decision with our clothing.

The doors to the back opened over forty-five minutes after the designated start time. My friend Damon was promoting the show that night and working the door for the afternoon class. Aimee and I picked up our half-drank ciders and paid him the $10 fee. The girl who came to Bounce in workout gear thought the cover was five bucks (it was until they raised it that afternoon), and didn’t go in. We found out later that our instructor neglected to inform Damon at the door that there was a “pay what you can” siding scale.

Alas, after waiting a few minutes, it became very clear that Aimee and I were the only attendees of this booty-shakin class. The instructor introduced herself as Altercation.  She looked like a younger Faye Dunaway who had been homeless for awhile. Altercation readily admitted that she had no home. She had been living at Occupy New Orleans until the police closed it down while she was on tour with Freedia. So now she’s living in her doctor’s house. I didn’t ask what kind of doctor.

Altercation in her element…NOLA.

She spent the first half hour talking about the history of Bounce music, and its deep ties with New Orleans culture. Altercation is a feminist who dances like a stripper. She spouted odes to the female form and told us how empowering the dancing is. She quickly became enthralled with Aimee when she realized not only was Aimee from New Orleans but is also a human rights activist. During all this discussion we sat on the sticky floor of the EARL’s back room venue with the soles of our feet together in front of us. I think we called it a butterfly stretch in elementary school.

Eventually, after Altercation and Aimee were attached for life through their roots in the Big Easy, our lady led us over to the couches on a low stage in the corner. The students took another sip of cider while the teacher encouraged us to undo the buttons on our jeans and get comfortable. I’m pretty sure the suggestion had an adverse effect.

Once we were “comfortably” kneeling on the grubby sofa with our pelvis facing the back of the couch, Altercation told us to move just our “delicious booties.” She had us imagine keeping everything still but the butt cheeks as we bounced up and down. I failed in between gales of nervous laughter. It didn’t help that the EARL’s employees were casually walking back and forth across the room, getting ready for the evening’s rush.

As we struggled to isolate the muscles and fat on our butts, another lady entered the room for the class. I was envious of her missing the lecture and coming right for the exercise. She, like the girl from the bar in the beginning, was dressed more for a stylish yoga class than a bounce show. Maybe Patrick and Aimee were wrong about the attire. I mean, if we’d dressed in stretchy stuff we wouldn’t be trying to hump a couch with our flies undone.

This girl knew how to wiggle her butt. We had moved to standing on the floor, with our hands on the ground. As Altercation told us we could stretch on the nasty floor of the EARL, I could see the value of a yoga mat. Apparently, the attendee who didn’t come in was a lot smarter than me. We followed instructions as Altercation uttered lines of encouragement, calling us goddesses and sexy. She told me I kept moving my legs too. My future as a bounce dancer was waning by the second.

Eventually the class ended (after nearly two hours). Aimee and I stayed talking to Altercation for a few minutes and she showed us the “stripper thigh shake” move. We followed along, locking our knees, feet firmly plated shoulder-width apart. And then we relaxed and sort of twisted our ankles back and forth. The momentum rides up your leg and makes your thighs wiggle. Well, it could. If you knew how. We didn’t.

However, I did manage to get Altercation doing a little bounce for us on video.

All in all, it was a tremendously fun experience. Despite coming from an entirely different world from me, I genuinely liked Altercation and her crazy mindset. And she could dance. I missed out on the Big Freedia show that night, but I still learned a bit about the culture. I couldn’t wait to get home and practice my own thigh shimmy (never to be seen in public)!

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