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Dancing with Pickle

February 15, 2013

I was standing there at the edge of the dance floor. It was a big place. I’d never been there before. Another first introduced by Pickle (Liz). Another strange combination of older couples and young musicians and hipsters who like to dance.  Another dance hall on the river by the levee.

“This is a good place to come if you want to feel young and beautiful,” I joked with Pickle. That was early in the evening. It was Sunday before Mardi Gras. By the evening, the usual crowd of younger dancers trickled in, mixing with the older Cajuns. Lapin had come with us. He was somewhere in the crowd. He had found himself a little blond to flirt with. Another victim to twirl around the dance floor. Lapin is a master Cajun dancer and can be brutally unforgiving to an unskilled partner.

I stood there feeling a strange contradiction. I felt so lucky to be dancing in this setting. To be dancing at all. To be with friends I can laugh with. Friends I care about. Friends who care about me. I felt lucky to be hearing live music like this. Pine Leaf Boys. Steve Riley. During the evening, the musicians announced they had won a grammy for their other band, Courtbouillion a few moments ago in L.A. “I’d rather be here,” Wilson Savoy said. And I was there too.

I was standing there at the edge of the dance floor. A couple of cute guys sitting at the bar had looked at me when I walked by. Another cute guy was standing nearby. And dozens of older people were dancing and drinking and sitting around. I felt a little pathetic, standing there alone. I felt a little sad and thought, “What am I doing here? Do I really think I’m going to meet somebody new here?”

I’ve felt that way a lot lately. Pickle and I go to the Blue Moon, we dance, it’s fun……but it’s getting old, too. It’s been about a year since we reconnected…..a year since we’ve been going out together, having fun, meeting people, dating a little………if you can call it that. Lafayette is such a clique-ey little city. We know everybody who does what we do. It’s the same group of people at the Blue Moon and Whiskey River and the festivals and the other dives. We’re not going to meet new people doing the same thing. The people we’ve met over and over, even the ones who’ve seemed interested in us are not going to suddenly change their behavior and ask us to dinner because they danced with us AGAIN at the Blue Moon. There’s no forward momentum here.

By the next song, I was dancing with a good dancer and it was fun. The music was good. I moved to the beat and let myself be twirled around. I followed the lead of my skilled partner. I closed my eyes. I tossed my head to the sounds of the fiddle and the accordion, to the unique rhythm of Cajun music. I felt happy to be alive. There are always those pockets of bliss within the hours of tedious sameness. They make it worth it, most of the time.

A little later and Pickle and I were left without partners. She grabbed me and went on the crowded dance floor. We’ve gotten our Kitten and Pickle routine down pretty tight. It’s how she taught me to dance. First it was just side to side, moving to the music. Then the two-step, deceptively named because it’s really three steps to two beats. It took me a while to learn that. Then the turns and the arms moving around our heads. Now, she throws in extra moves just to keep me on my toes. She thinks she can teach me the Whiskey River jig, an aberration of the two step the young guys from Henderson do. It seems to have no rhyme or reason to it.

 I always laugh when I dance with her and she returns my laughter with that little smirk of hers. In those moments, I feel lucky again. Happy and grateful. In the moment. Choosing joy.

The last time we walked into the Blue Moon, we stuck our wrists out simultaneously for our arm bands after paying the entrance fee.  Will, the ever present door man responded by putting one band on both our wrists, “You have to wear one together,” he said. We got a good laugh out of that. Sometimes, walking in and heading to the bar where I will find my Abita Amber handed to me with one glance, I wonder, “What do all these people think of me? I’m here at least once a week, sometimes two or three. Same routine. Same bands.” Then I realize they’re there as much as I am and they’ve been at it a lot longer than Pickle and I. We’re still relatively new to this. Even so, I wonder “How long can we sustain this? How many times will I dance with the same people? How many out-of –towners will catch my eye, only to disappear forever? How many times will I sit on that back bench, watching people?”

We were in Eunice on Mardi Gras Day at the street dance. I saw two women standing in front of us, in their 50s at least, maybe older. Very made up. Cougar-wear. “They were at Pat’s the other night,” I told Pickle. “That’s us in 20 years.” We laughed at the absurdity of such a suggestion. Is it absurd? Will I find myself in 5, 10, 15 or 20 years, standing at the edge of a dance floor, listening to the next generation of grammy-winning Cajun musicians? Will I be part of the older crowd, watching the 20 and 30-year olds come in and steal all the dance partners? And what if I am? What’s wrong with that?

As long as I’m dancing with Pickle, and Lapin is chasing some skirt in the crowd, it might be ok.

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