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.
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)!
July 3, 2012 § Leave a comment
I have this friend, Andre. And every time I would ask him for suggestions of new things to try throughout my twenty-ninth year, he would respond the same. “Walk through a door backwards. I bet you’ve never done that.” So on his birthday, I decided to take his advice, and try to walk through every door backwards. Hello, Day Three Hundred Nineteen.
I failed miserably. I thought I would start off on shaky feet, but quickly, as the day wore on, I could add walking through doors backwards just another part of my routine. Maybe a little OCD, but it shouldn’t be too hard.
Do you know how many doors we walk through in a day? A lot.
I perfected my walk/twirl method but only managed to show it off once a peer reminded me of my daily task. I went to a birthday party for Andre that night and needless to say, he was a bit disappointed in my lack of effort. To make up for it, I decided to add another new activity to my day.
I tried Four Loko. The energy drink that comes in 16oz cans and contains 10% alcohol.
I didn’t go crazy or anything. The drink tasted like carbonated kool-aid with an extra cup of sugar. It was gross. I had a couple sips (to say I tried it), and then moved back to my home brew.
In the end, I actually participated in two new experiences on Day Three Hundred Nineteen. I walked through doors backwards (you should really try it sometime) and I tasted Four Loko. Two of the dumbest things ever.
Happy Birthday, Andre.
April 30, 2011 § 1 Comment
I got political on Day Thirty-Eight. With the strict immigration law having passed the Georgia state legislature the day before, I let my voice be heard. I signed an online petition, retweeted a post from the lovely human rights activist Aimee Castenell, and then, for the first time, I called the governor’s office to protest such a backwards measure. I ended up on an answering service and at the end of my rambling message I was actually cut off.
Governor Nathan Deal campaigned last year with a promise of implementing an Arizona-style immigration law in our fair southern state, a law that allows those suspected of being illegal immigrants to be forced to provide papers on immigration status. It just seems a bit harsh for a nation that is comprised of mostly immigrants in some form or another to pass such a racist law.
My parents visited our family in England last year, and on return to the States my mother (who is not a US citizen) was held up in customs for awhile. She would probably not be stopped or questioned during any routine police traffic stop, being white and all, but the customs agent did let her know that she should think about updating her resident alien card or even become a citizen. She has lived here most of her life. Although the photo on her immigration card is thirty plus years old and the license itself is pretty outdated, the brains working behind the counter at airports may not be able to recognize genuine legal documents.
It’s quite scary to think that will laws passed like those in Arizona and possibly here in Georgia people can be questioned on their citizenship status. I don’t personally think that we have this huge illegal immigration problem as is painted by some lawmakers. I think anyone traveling in the US should be treated fairly, allowed basic rights, and that fear of immigrants, illegal or not, is unjustified.