— 5:58 p.m.
Hello from Kansas!
I'm currently in Hays, Kansas, visiting an old friend/roommate of mine named Mike. Mike and I were in the Navy together 15 years ago, and we lived together in Italy. We also had a band out there, with him on lead guitar and me on the drums.
Anyway, Mike also lived with me for a while in 2000, and when he moved out - well, actually he went on a business trip and never came back - he left a bunch of stuff at my house. He came for a visit 2 and a half years ago, and I gave him a bunch of stuff, but there were still 2 boxes of his things that I was, at the time, too lazy to dig out from under the stairs. I had forgotten about them and I didn't dig deep enough to actually find them.
So, since I'm redoing the basement and wanted to clear them out, this was the time. Besides, I had Friday off of work and it was a great opportunity to make a road trip.
Last night, I went with Mike to a little town in NE Kansas called Beloit. You see, his band, the Blaine Younger Band had a gig there, and it was just like a good, old fashioned hootenanny. His band plays a modern version of Country Music known as Red Dirt Country. It's a sort of Country with a bit of Rock infused, but not like Lynyrd Skynrd; it's not Southern Rock.
They played in a ballroom, and the bar sign said: Free Dance Tonight! The Blaine Younger Band, 9-1. Thanks to the sound guy, who was profoundly fucked up before the show even started, SHIT! The keyboard tray on Mike's computer tray just broke off on the right side. God dammit. I don't type that hard, do I?
Where was I? Oh, I remember now. The sound check dragged on until about 9:10, and then the sound guy put on some house (Country) music and they waited for the crowd.
With 20 minutes 80 or so people showed up, and they just kept piling in by the dozens. I'd estimate that there were ~240 people there all together, and boy howdy, I felt like a stranger in a strange land.
Cowboy hats, southern belle hair-spray helmets, farmers with the creased ball caps, everything. I've never been to a country bar before, and even though this wasn't a country bar per se, there was a country bad playing and these people went NUTS! I'm quite sure that so much Bud and Bud Light had ever been consumed by so few in such a short amount of time.
People would come back from the bar holding 5 cans of beer. 2 for the girl, 3 for the guy. BAM! 12 minutes goes by - unless they were dancing - and another trip to the bar was in order. The people at the table in front of me were making beer-can pyramids on their table. Would I make this up?
Now as far as the dancing goes, there was plenty of the traditional country dancing, which is step left, step left, half step right, step left, step left, start to turn, etc. but there was also plenty of the "swinging".
Swing dancing, which I had never truly seen in its purest form, had the man and woman throwing themselves apart and coming back together in a blur of twirls one shoulder, two shoulder, spin around, rebound with arms crossed, other person one shoulder, two shoulder, separate, with crossed arms, Bang! Bang! Bang!
It was absolutely surreal. There were just arms curling around heads and dizzying spinning, twirling, holy shitting. I've never seen anything like it. Not ONCE did one of the men, whether adorned by cowboy hat or ball cap, hit the rim of their noble accoutrement. No one lost a hat. I'd have knocked mine off after the second twirl then curled up in the fetal position in the middle of the dance floor nursing my poor shoulder. It was very impressive...in a curious way.
The band invited me to come up and play a few songs on the drums, which was interesting since I did know but one of them, but still the crowd was frenzied. Freaky. It was cool though since Mike and I hadn't played together in years and years.
Even waiting to get a drink at the bar was an experience. Drunken farmboys as big as oxen were bullshitting and slapping each other on the muscley backs while they reminisced about livestock, combines, and pretty girls. Yes, in that order. I've been a social chameleon for my entire life, as I think all of us are to a certain degree, but I've never felt so out of place in my life.
These people are only 1 state away from me, but the cultural difference is worlds apart. Wow.
Anyway, tonight I'm going to another BYB show, in WaKeeney and maybe it'll be different. Then again maybe I'll step into...*cue Twilight Zone music*