~ Sunday, January 09, 2005 ~
Last night I went to a hotel called The Four Seasons with some people I know from swing dancing. Apparently this is big thing in Philadelphia; when my neighbors saw me leaving in a dress instead of my usual jeans-and-sweater uniform, they asked where I was going, and when I told them, they said, "Oh, The Four Seasons, wow! Have a good time!" And it *was* nice. They have a band and a teeny dance floor in a tastefully decorated lounge, where they charge exorbitant prices for luxuries like glasses of port, decadent desserts, and cigars. Apparently this is the place you go if you have a date to impress, and a week's salary to burn.
Mr. Metrosexual, one of the regulars at the swing dances here, and a guy with a very unique sort of leading style, has done this type of thing once or twice before, and was organizing a group to do it again, although he was careful to warn us that we should expect to spend quite a bit of cash, or else the staff would *not* look kindly on us spending several hours alternately occupying their best seats and intimidating everyone else off the dance floor. We ordered a dessert sampler platter which was actually not unreasonably priced, and offered a very pretty selection of delicious teeny cakes and succulent berries with whipped cream.
Mr. Metrosexual's original concept was to gather a group of people to go somewhere where they have lindy-able music but no lindy dancers, and to dance our toes off, to the delight of all in attendance, especially ourselves. Mr. M calls this lindybombing. As it turned out, we didn't really dance our toes off, but only because we were enjoying socializing with everyone and admiring the beautiful setting (and perhaps enjoying the desserts) so much that deserting the rest of party to dance to every song seemed downright antisocial. In addition, there were enough of us (11) that the floor wasn't big enough for everyone to dance at once. Maybe if we'd been doing balboa.
Thinking back on it now, it's hard to pinpoint what made the evening so exciting. Certainly, part of it was the beautiful setting. Four Seasons had clearly spent a great deal of energy and money making their lounge as understatedly decadent as they could. We had a table near the fireplace with plush chairs and sofas, several gently glowing lamps, and an excellent view of the rest of the room. The demonstration-dessert tier was directly behind us, and we were across the room from the band and the dance floor. Even the table we sat around was lovely; it was round and low and made of highly polished dark wood, with some filigree design where the legs joined the top. All the details were in place, but that wouldn't have been enough to make the evening so special.
Part of it was also the exhibitionism aspect: in his pre-event organisational e-mails, Mr. M. had pointed out that there is a dress code, and we should respect it. As hard as it is to convince me to put on pretty clothes and go out dancing in them, I gathered all my willpower and managed something decent...and probably overdid it, but it's practically my trademark...I mean, if I ever didn't unwittingly overdress, I might not recognize myself. Of course, when girls see other girls in pretty clothes, they tend to be generous in their compliments, so we all gave and received a few "how nice you look!" cookies, and enjoyed their sugary goodness. The gents all presented themselves nicely too, and I was glad to see that they managed to express their own taste and look distinctive, even within the confines of modern gentlemen's semiformal fashion.
So there was the delight of how pretty our setting was, and the delight of how pretty we were, but probably the main thing was the underlying absurdity of it all. We had no business there, and we knew it, and yet there we were, dancing amid the nice respectable couples like super-high-bouncy balls in an antique champagne flute store, and making the young wait staff, who were probably just kids our age putting themselves through school, grin tolerantly instead of discreetly throwing us out.
Oh, and another thing that made the evening particularly nice from my point of view is that one of the guys was celebrating his birthday a couple of days late (he just turned 30) and so we gave him a birthday jam, and it came up that I am a few days away from 24, so I received a birthday jam too, which I wasn't expecting, but was sort of hoping might happen.
There were pictures, too. Toward the end of the evening, between the band's penultimate and ultimate sets, the series of canned songs included a two-step, and although Miss Idea had never danced two-step before, she was game enough to follow me through one. Unlike my beloved Stanford dance community, among Philadelphia's swing dancers, a girl leading a girl is a rare enough occasion that our camera-wrangler-du-jour had to capture it on film*.
At one point, Mr. Metrosexual laid a cloth napkin across Wired Librarian's lap like an apron, and someone commented that with his shirt and tie and cloth apron, he looked like a waiter. So, willing as he is to bounce off the slightest suggestion, he took the napkin and folded it into quarters and laid it across his forearm, and tucked another one into his waistband, and started playing waiter. My water glass happened to be empty, so I held it up and tried to look thirsty.
Just afterward, Wired Librarian was walking back around to his chair when an older gentleman at another table snapped his fingers and called out, "Garcon!" and indicated the offensive presence of the used plates in front of him. He and WL held character for a delicious few moments before the real waiter arrived with the gentleman's check. Pity one of us wasn't holding a camera while they were holding character, but I think we were too busy cracking up.
I also wish we had a picture of the band, Beau Jazz. They were very friendly to us in spite of our silly requests, and more to the point, they were exquisitely danceable. The singer's native language was French, which I didn't realize until she sang La Vie en Rose with an accent that melted us all. I also wouldn't have guessed, from observing her in her very proper cocktail dress and conservative heels, that when she's not performing at Four Seasons, she plays electric guitar. There's something about heels and electric guitar that are mutually exclusive.
*And by film, I mean pixels.
Current Music: Popsicle Toes, Diana Krall
~ prattled by Miriam at 10:54 p.m. [+]
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