Week #12 – PITCHES
I am a sucker for a dance floor. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t allowed to go to dances when I was young and I’m now trying to make up for it, or because dancing feels like the only appropriate response to hearing a great song, or because when you dance nobody cares who you are, or what the booty that you’re shaking looks like. Indifferent to one’s God, politics, economic status, gender or race, the dance floor serves as the great equalizer of all. And, perhaps, the only public space in the whole wide world where you can jive, bump, grind, hustle, pump, break, spin, shuffle and fly your freak flag (whatever that looks like), knowing that the second you step off that patch of parquet, you will return, unscathed, to the normalcy of your life. Like a weekend in Vegas, what happens on the dance floor, stays on the dance floor. I believed this with all my heart, I really did. I thought the dance floor was the one place that I could count on to be free of prejudice and judgment. But I was wrong. And all it took was a couple of Pitches to prove it.
The setting was the PP3 premiere. My friend, Sue, and I, having won four tickets at a school fundraiser, were taking our teenage daughters to this much-anticipated event –the final reunion of Becca, Fat Amy, Emily, Chloe, Aubree, Stacie, Lilly, and Cynthia-Rose. I have to say that I felt pretty good when I walked out the door that evening –skinny black pants, high-heeled boots, and a studded faux-leather jacket (bought at deep-discount at Bloomingdales hoping my daughter would wear it, to which she replied, never). Despite the fact that it was a school night and I was already yawning, I was, frankly, rockin’ my 51 years and ready to take on the Hollywood crowd.
The screening took place at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, that beautiful space where they host the Academy Awards. And the movie did not disappoint. After a particularly brutal day, the old lady jokes had me howling, and I could not help but appreciate (and give thanks for) a top-to-bottom female-driven project. When we walked into the ballroom for the after-party, we all gasped at the lights, food, flowers, swag, and the beautiful Bellas milling about. There was also a very cool DJ (think Rihanna and Oprah rolled into one) spinning tunes above a brightly lit dance floor. Now Sue and I have some history in this area. Over the years we’ve been to many a fundraiser, birthday party and bat mitzvah, clocking countless sweaty hours bustin’ moves together. It’s our happy place. So we agreed that before leaving for the night, and despite our daughters’ reluctance, we would hit the dance floor for at least one song. And so, over the next hour, we gawked, ate, drank, posed in the photo booth, and, inevitably, made our way to dance as the clock neared eleven.
What happened next is hard to explain. I’d be curious to see the videotape played back in slo-mo of how the whole thing went down. Because somehow, in the course of ten minutes, Sue and I, by our mere presence alone, cleared the dance floor of all the young hipsters and beautiful people, and repopulated it with a collection of slightly desperate middle-agers who’d been hanging by the sidelines ready to bust out. Furthermore, while this went down, DJ Kiss, ridiculously smooth, transitioned from playing the songs on my kids’ playlists (the popular stuff) to spinning girl-power oldies like Respect and Girls Just Want to Have Fun. One minute we were dancing with a crowd of young women so cool that they were able to get their groove on by simply pursing their lips and nodding their heads a little, to us fist-pumping and hugging a bunch of soccer moms from Manhattan Beach who had also won their tickets through a fundraiser. Shell-shocked, we looked around to discover that everyone dancing was our age: uninhibited, messy, passionately biting their lower lips. And while the moment rang as rather empowering for this over-40 demo that had claimed their space on the dance floor, I couldn’t help but think, Dang it! I’m wearing my skinny clothes and my studs and funking it up. Why don’t the cool kids want to dance with me?
Truth be told, I was once middle-ageist like the Pitches who high-tailed it off the dance floor soon after we arrived. I remember, way back (a few decades ago to be precise), towards the end of a Christmas party or wedding, sitting at a table exhausted, watching the dance floor as the evening wound down. I would oooh over the little kids in their stocking feet, standing atop their father’s shoes; awww over the grandparents slow dancing, memories washing over them and carrying them away; harrumph at the 20-somethings, heels kicked off, drinks in hand, dancing en-masse with the moves that I wanted; and, eye-roll, yes, eye-roll at the middle-agers –that confused bunch who were no longer hip, but not exactly old, taking to the dance floor with so much unabashed enthusiasm, still thinking, and acting like they were 30. I judged them in the same was I was judged at the premiere, never imagining that one day I, too, would be middle-aged, that I would walk, and dance, in their shoes.
This pitch-perfect moment is an eye-opener. I tell my husband the story and he says, Oh, honey, you’re never going to be hip again. Those days are over. To which I prickle for a moment, before realizing that he’s probably right. Though, privately, I still hold on to some little piece of hope. Because despite the 51-year old reflected in the mirrored ceiling above the dance floor, there’s a hipster girl inside. A young and carefree girl who loves to dance. A girl who’s a sucker for a dance floor.