I was heading into the bank drive-through when The Hustle came on the oldies station. I cranked it up. My sensible Toyota Rav-4 morphed into a time machine and I was transported back to “Uncle Dunkels“. Disco is king and this is the bar of choice in my hometown for 19-year-old dancing queens like me.
My girlfriends and I have been lucky enough to snag a tiny, rickety table at the side of the dance floor. Each of us is nursing a Sloe Gin Fizz or Tootsie Roll – drinks are expensive here, so you only order one. When The Hustle comes on, we all jump up and take our rightful places. This is one of the few dances you can do without waiting for some guy to take you out on the floor.
You’ve got to be careful out here. The squares of multi-colored lights that make up the dance floor flash in time with the music. They can bring on a seizure. You could fall off the edge of the platform. Even more likely, you can lose an eye to a flying mane of Farrah Fawcett hair. We all have the same hairdo. Each strand on our heads has been stiffened to lethal weapon status by a crust of heat-&-humidity-defying Aqua Net.
Several hits of 180-proof vodka in the parking lot have us lubricated to the point that we’re dancing fluid and easy. (step back, back, back, back; step up, up, up, up) The floor isn’t big, but we all know the steps and soon everyone is synchronized. (spin left, 2 ,3, 4 then right, 2, 3, 4)
It’s mainly girls out here. Most of the guys are lounging around the perimeter of the floor in their Qiana shirts and puka-shell necklaces, the better to check out the talent.
They don’t really care how much dancing talent we have, though. They just want to see the equipment move.
I close my eyes and I am Karen Lynn Gorney in Saturday Night Fever. I had a dress just like the one in the poster, except it was yellow. I’m not Donna Pescow because she never gets John Travolta. I don’t know why – I like her better than Karen, even if she’s chubby, and I think she’s a better dancer. But that’s just my opinion. John didn’t ask me what I think. (tap front, 2; tap back, 2; tap front, then back; then to the side, ¼ turn hop)
Now John Travolta is begging me to be his dance partner for the next big competition because I’m the smoothest white girl on the floor. (reach up right, plunge down left; again, up right to down left, hips swinging)
I’m spinning my arms and squirming in my seat, singing at the top of my lungs when I become aware that the 22-year-old bank teller is looking at me. She’s done with my transaction and is waiting for me to remove my receipt from her drawer. The expression of polite friendliness that she knows she is supposed to wear is losing a battle for supremacy with “are you kidding me?” horror.
I shrug my shoulders – “what are you gonna do?” – smile sheepishly and grab the receipt before exiting quickly. I stop short of a full squeal-of-tires-peel-out because, after all, I have to live in this town in the here and now.
If John Travolta had picked me, we would have wiped the floor with the competition.