It isn't as easy as it seems. Those adhesive Arthur Murray footprints trod trillions of times over by varying shapes of bones and flesh didn't just get there by themselves. They were, and remain, the color- inside-the-lines choreography set to obvious rhythms of samba or foxtrot or walk-of-shame dalliances, each intended for escapist contexts, nothing more, nothing less. But how it is that we all fall in a left-right-left line, smiling through the shame and tears and bundled nerve parcels, without face-planting altogether — thereby falling out of the tango to death's eminent cliff — remains a mystery.
Actually, it doesn't. Some people do fall. And some people are faking it.
"Are you watching Glee?" Karen Leigh plops her torn leggings onto my loveseat. "Do you love it? I don't love it."
Sure, it's all lip-synced Auto-Tune layered around wheelchair-stutter dance routines, slightly cynical camp frustrations and hysterical pregnancies with barely audible finger cymbals prompting mass-audience laughter. But like most guilty pleasures aimed at bothering your tooth enamel, it's mostly worth it.
"Sometimes it's good," my face barely moves. "Like tonight, for example, all the kids are hopped up on over-the-counter speed, enough to make them cheerleaders and football players and singers and dancers and pregnant teens all at once, successfully! The moral of the story is you cheat to get ahead. No matter the Garrett-Tootie shame vortex at the end, it's ultimately about moving faster by chemical design. Damn the moral torpedoes. I kinda like that."
"OK," Karen stares into my nonsense. "I'll have that drink, then."
Tonight's foray into nightlife absurdity might require a lick of synthetic influence. I'm nursing a hyperbolically perceived case of H1N1 — takes one to know one — that is literally pulling my limbs to the nearest padded surface, while Karen, sweet Karen, is last-minute loser on the list of those who are unhappily available to join me. Add to that rolling snowball of germs and regret an event that involves the terms "amateur" and "burlesque," and you're likely to hear an existential sneeze coming from the very core of reason. Or at least somewhere underground.
"Oh, it's underground," Karen feigns amused judgment as we tumble toward the whitewashed kitsch of the Stardust Lounge. "You know, I used to live in this very building," she continues once we're inside. "I would come down here for drinks on occasion, but, you know, not all the time. There was this lady who would always be down here having drinks, because she was an alcoholic."
"Oh, really?" I add to the fiction. "Well, I used to know this guy who would come here all the time and go up to the sixth floor to buy healing nasal powder. I think he used to come down here and pretend to drink. He was a drug addict."
We agree to agree that they were both just doing what they had to do at the time to get by, because that's what we would do if we were in their shoes — which we were, and did, or something.
This little bit of nervous prattling is less the result of recovery fidgets or DayQuil twitches than it is a flash of situational ignorance. I'm not certain what this evening is all about — there was this thing on Facebook, I passed out, it was still there, now we're here — and neither is Karen, but for a fleeting moment about two hours ago it seemed like a good idea. In Blister parlance, a "good idea" is something in which other people do crazy things so we don't have to. I pull aside attendant Jenn Lothian to get a handle on whether or not I made the right choice.
"Blah, blah, blah, Craigslist," she says. "Blah, blah, drunk girls, blah, blah, fall down."
Actually, she says way more than that, but that's all I want to hear. The Peek-a-boo Lounge Amateur Burlesque is a new monthly affair at Stardust — this is its second iteration — where ladies of the local variety are given the chance to parade down a runway suggestively disrobing to songs that they have chosen themselves. Last month's cacophonous kickoff saw a packed house of peeking voyeurs enjoying the two-drinks-too-many stylings of tumbling amateur exhibitionists. Tonight promises more of the same, only with a little less tumbling.
"We've had to place limits on the number of drinks," Jenn imparts. "It was a mess."
You have to figure it would be anyway, what with girls who've never danced before baring their lady parts in rhythmic leg-splits and sauntering down a very narrow runway. This could be fun.
"Please welcome your hostess and emcee, and the bitch that makes all this fucking shit happen for you, Baby Blue!" Baby Blue introduces herself — just like Mary Poppins might — before basically undressing to "She Bop." Signature bawdiness of the "I'm on my period" variety follows, as do some winning jabs at a listless public that seems to be comprised of condo girls and stoners.
"I piss people off," Blue blues. "If I were a drag queen, it would be OK, but my vagina is sooooo big!"
Yay! It is fun, officially. But after just two of the five contestants have craftily contorted their nethers into flapping butterfly wings and functioning steam engines without so much as a missed step, my head starts to call shenanigans. My mouth, too. "Shenanigans!"
Could it be? I mean, is it plausible that this notion of "amateur" has been contrived for the sake of entertainment value? Or, worse, what if this is all some kind of failed stripper runoff from the Orlando skin trade? Or — even worse! — what if the whole world is faking it? Tell me it ain't so, Baby Blue.
"Well," she winks a knowing wink from somewhere outside of reason. "I can't say that one or two of them haven't taken a ballet class."
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