I always thought that the square-dancing unit of P.E. back in elementary school was included as part of a southern public school curriculum, and that it went along with the big orange Virginia book from fourth grade where we learned what a hero Robert E. Lee was. It turns out that kids all over the country had to do-si-do and promenade their pardners. Why this remains as some kind of American Heritage Campaign is a little bit beyond me. I've since discovered a much more satisfying way to explore our country roots: line dancing.
In Charlottesville, VA where I went to college, there was a joint. This joint was called Max's. It was the sort of place frequented by many a kind of people: grey-haired, pink-lipsticked regulars, plaid-shirted men with flasks in their pockets, townies, and us UVA kids. UVA kids, however, can be separated into sorority/frat people, and then everyone else. Because we hung with a crowd that was part UVA and part townie, the sorority/frat contingent was always a hilarious farce to us. But for all the opportunities to harbor disdain for the Greek scene, this was not one of them; the farce of Max's was enough to unite us all, old, young, drunk, wealthy, and yankee alike.
If I could, I would take some time to visit Max's these days to see how things have changed. Now being over 21, it's a bar – first and foremost, but who knew back then? I mean, water bottles full of vodka were the norm back then, and it would be a whole different thing to sit at the bar with the flask-drinkers and such. To not hide from the bartender in fear. If I could, I would probably take a lot of pictures. Characters like Verne, and the teacher from the local high school who my friends always knew – these are people worth photographing. The kids cleared the dance floor when a couples dance song came on. If I could, I would go back and learn that dance.
Max's is gone; it was torn down by UVA during our 3rd year of college. I think it's a storage facility or a parking lot now, but I havent been back to see it. I can't do any of these things. Instead, I find myself in unexpected moments of glee, spreading the gospel.
The party last night was playing a lot of Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, Gillian Welch, Johnny Cash, Neko Case kind of music. We line danced to June Carter and Johnny Cash. That was kind of cool. At Max's it was a whole lot of Shania Twain and not much else I remember except "Honky Tonk Twist."
Last night at a Cowboy party, i pulled out the Canadian Stomp and the Tush Push. I'd forgotten how much FUN it is. And out here in Seattle, I've so far found that really nobody knows about line dancing, not anybody I've met. I've only danced twice in almost two years – the first time in a bar with other people from Virginia, and the second at this Cowboy party. And you know what? I'm going to do it more often! Apparently there is a bar here; I look forward to checking it out. It's what good old Verne would have wanted.