On Saturday night I found myself standing by a high-top table at a bar frequented by twenty-something-year-olds, sipping, uncharacteristically for me, a cranberry soda. The feel of the place can be described as “drag-queen retro” since it is dipped in burgundy and sparkle, and decorated with mid-century furniture, a disco ball, and a waterbed by the entrance. The kids that frequent it wear imaginative outfits scavenged in 70s thrift stores. There seems to be a general understanding that if you step into this space you consent to “good vibes only.” A small platform in the corner serves as a stage for one, and the young patrons who climb on it in rotation, for brief, Tiktok-like performances, are unfailingly met with cheers. There was unusual excitement when that Robyn song came on about the girlfriend. In that moment, I realized, no one in there other than me was acutely aware of their lower back hurting.
I am not quite so old
To feel this old.
And I am not quite so young
To think this young.
But every so often
If I squint just the right way
I can see that
I can still make paperclips.
That poem is a heart punch wow!
A beautiful post and especially relevant for me this week. I just turned 35 and am trying to decide whether that means I've arrived at something, or if it matters.
I never really "went dancing" when I was younger. I got drunk and danced when other people were dancing, which wasn't often. My cigarettes were cloves, but I had the same black eyeliner insecurities you did. And sometimes I think, now that I'm a little less full of shit, it'd be fun to just go out and dance sometimes.
But who would go with me?
There is a quote -- from where I don’t know -- that I frequently remember when I recall my own, long past, dancing days.
I was a keen dancer of ballet, Scottish Highland dancing, Scottish Country dancing, Scottish ceilidh dancing, tap dancing and, in my teens, Latin American dancing, at which my teacher offered to make me Junior European Champion; he had the skill, knowledge and experience to do it, too, having coached world champions. But by then I had my sights on university (and a rather precious idea that dancing should not be competitive) so I gave it up, flat, and went cold turkey in every kind of dance other than social dancing, which I still love.
So the quote means a lot to me, and it’s this: There are shortcuts to happiness. And dancing is one of them.
I had the opportunity to dance recently... quite unexpected and I am past my middle years now but dancing remains in my body as relevant still as my blood cells. Walking back to my hotel at night, a street party in full swing and Freed from Desire started out of the speakers. I leapt into action and danced/sang all the way home. Glorious. Not sure what others were doing but my heart beat faster and on that last night of my trip, I’d found a sublime end.♥️
Just sitting here in the wee Manhattan hours, listening to my quiet neighborhood sounds when you gonged my phone. Brilliant post and Frank O’Hara the NYC poet to boot. It’s ok to get older, Sophia; don’t get old
The Island is a good book - listening to Aldous speak is a thing of beauty. If you’ve never heard, check it out. Such a beautiful voice... subjective that is, of course. Mind you, i don’t think he was a Wizard Headmaster, do you....? ;)
I was issued a recommendation for your page via a general Substack email. I clicked. I immediately am looking at a naked Burt Reynolds. I don't know how to feel about this.
Hey, i think it’s a great piece. And i think Albus Huxley could be a great character.... !
Lovely to read a post that is encouraging about young people. We talk, glibly, about them being our future, then blame them for being young, and tell ourselves we were never as bad as they. But we were (if we’re were worth a dime, anyway) and, besides, they’re not. Whenever I’ve had anything to do with Goths, or Punks, or any of the other youth tribes they congregate in to create a new family for themselves as they are having to move slightly out of their original one (and finding it a bit scary, however much they put in a brave face), the mind of tribes adults often denigrate and even fear, I have found them unfailingly polite and cheerful, no matter how dark or scruffy, to our eyes, their clothes. I don’t have so much contact with young people now (as you can probably guess from my reference to Goths and Punks!) other than my two very charming young neighbours. But I’ve always found that if you can try to keep your own young heart a,I’ve, then youth really does call to youth -- whatever age the body it’s in.
Thank you for this lovely piece. Started my day with a smile. The writing - and Burt Reynolds.
This was a delight to read while waking up with my keto-bomb coffee and two dogs cuddled with me next to my therapy lamp. :>) We do what we can, don't we, even dance sometimes. Thank you so much for the poem, too, and for Bert. Grrrrr.
Beautiful writing. Nice scene. I wonder if those young ones knew who Burt is. 😃
You created a cool environment in that bar and covered that poignant slippage of time that only the next older generation can feel. "We can bottle them up, turn them into words. Turn them into something".