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)!


A Whirlyball Tale (322nd new thing).

July 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

On Day Three Hundred Twenty-Two, Patrick asked if I would like to join him and The EARL in a Whirlyball game against Ticket Alternative. Of course! While I have played the sport before, I had never played against TA, so certainly considered it as “something new.”

Marc Crifasi admires the panorama of activity on the Whirlyball court

The game is played like a combination of basketball and lacrosse, except in bumper cars. Two teams of five roam around an electrified floor with small plastic scoops, passing and bouncing a whiffle ball across the court.  Points are scored by hitting the goal, essentially a basketball backboard with a hole in the middle instead of a hoop. A buzzer sounds as the ball hits its target and voila, a point is tallied! Points can also be gained by the opposing team fouling a member of your own: by slashing their scoop at one of your teammates or touching the ball with their hands. Some extreme games are played without the foul penalties.

A fight for the ball

We met up at Whirlyball Atlanta after some pre-game BBQ at Dreamland BBQ. The first games were a mishmash of players from each side in 15 minute increments. I found my own strategy pretty quickly: stay on the guy who could score and block him from ever getting the ball. It was kind of counter productive in the interest of fun and I felt bad for not allowing him to navigate across the floor, but we won. I’m not taking full credit, but a little would be OK, right?

I tend to get a little competitive, but only during the confines of games, any games. Board games are the worst.

We mixed and matched teams until the last game of the night arrived- the official “Official Ticket Alternative vs The EARL” game.

John keeping the red team away from the goal

The blur of speed

We lost. But it was fun. I managed to score a goal and forgot about inhibiting the opposing team. I really felt bad about my actions from earlier.

And there’s the moral of the story…winning or losing, Whirlyball is fun for everyone.

Bon Iver in Cobb County (142nd new thing).

August 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Day One Hundred Forty-One found me headed to the Cobb Energy Center at the junction of I-85 and I-285 to see Bon Iver for the first time, with the Rosebuds opening up for them. It was my second show in a row, and second 2000+ person amphitheater at that. These circumstances really don’t happen very often.

Patrick and I met at the box office and headed into the opera house-meets-theater venue. There really are no bad seats at the Cobb Energy Center, but ours were especially appealing. Seated right behind the rail dividing the lower level orchestra seating from the next height, we had no tall people or standers in front of us to block our view. The acoustics were pretty great- a big warm sound, especially as the headliner played.

The Rosebuds

We had seen the Rosebuds at The EARL a month or so earlier, and I have to say that I prefer the band on a smaller, more intimate stage. Patrick and I had the fortune of being in Barcelona several years ago at the same time as a Rosebuds tour. We went to their show followed by a disco filled dance club experience. That was my favorite time seeing them, but I’ve never had a bad experience. Their energy is contagious.

Bon Iver

Bon Iver filled the room with sweet voices and instruments. I had only really listened to the For Emma, Forever album and enjoyed it immensely. I was able to hear a lot more than just those few songs during the show. The array of instruments and sound really gelled well with the acoustics of the venue.

Patrick and I left shortly before the encore as both of us had long days and early starts the following morning. Even if I didn’t get to see the entire performance, I surely enjoyed myself. Although I woudn’t want to drive out to Cobb often, the venue is great to see bands as a random treat.

– Show quoted text –

Day Thirty. Shot Roulette.

April 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

I went to the EARL the evening of day twenty-nine to see a show. Since I was there after midnight and knew I was coming up on a super busy work day, I decided to declare it Day Thirty. Whether this will come back to bite me, we shall see.

And my activity for Day Thirty was to play shot roulette. Marc Crifasi’s idea. He took the shot book from behind the bar and as he flipped quickly through the pages I stuck my finger out and picked one. Then I closed my eyes and pointed to a spot on the open book, thus choosing our beverage.

The ATP. Bourbon and Amaretto. I hate shots. I got all the shot drinking out of my system when I was twenty years old studying abroad in England. My friend had the wise idea that upon entering a nightclub, however many of us would sashay up to the bar would each order a shot of something. A shot of something for the number of people participating. And then we would take them, one after the other, no pauses. It was a great way to get tipsy enough to dance the night away, but the thought of it nowadays makes me gag a little. I would always pick apple sour to wash away the taste of vodka, whiskey, and malibu rum that had just gone down my gizzard.

So this was kind of a gross idea to me.

But I did it. And it was new.

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