Sometimes I can start out with one couple date and end up with another entirely and my evening is all the better for the variety of company. It's good to know I have couple friends willing to tag team each other so I can have sparkling company the whole night through.
This weekend of singular pleasures continued with tonight's Meschiya Lake & the Little Big Horn's show at Balliceaux. Since the last time I heard New Orleans parlor-style jazz was probably in New Orleans (or even at that screening of Pretty Baby at VMFA), I happily joined the throngs for an evening of jazz standards and original material by the former busker with the big sound behind her.
From a classic like "My Man" to a song Lake referred to as "a dancing song and also a drinking song...our two favorite things," ML & tLBH managed to infuse Balliceaux with a New Orleans crowd-pleasing energy that never let up. Her voice was sultry, brassy and completely engaging, full-on entertaining.
And the crowd was a unique one, pulling from disparate groups of music lovers. I arrived early enough to find a good place to lean on the wall and see the stage, sure that this would be a performance I wanted to see as much as hear.
Within moments, one of the barbacks came over and said he had to place a bar stool right where I was standing, but that I could sit on it if I wanted to. It seemed like a good way to prevent being knocked into, so I took him up on his offer.
And it did work well except that my knees were right in the thoroughfare and more than a few times, I was spun on my stool by a large person dashing by.
One guy, upon noticing his friend squeeze by me, came over and asked, "Did he just rub his buttocks against your legs?" Not one to miss a chance to point my own finger, I asked, "Yes, but aren't you the one who came up behind him and rubbed yourself against his buttocks?" something I had noted earlier and wondered about.
"Good eye," the guy said, slinking back into the crowd.
Periodically one of the bartenders would make his way through the crowd carrying drinks aloft and saying "bar staff" loudly to get people to move out of his way. Before long I heard one guy making his way through the mob announcing "customer," if that tells you anything about the comedic talents of the crowd.
My favorite part of the crowd was my couple date who provided some company with whom I could get chatty. They too had been to the Christmas parade today as well as the opera last weekend, so we compared notes on our shared experiences (I did not get cold at the first or nod off at the latter, so there were some differences).
But space was tight and they had to stand practically on top of each other and before I knew it, well, they had places to go. Ah, love.
It's hard to describe the surreal pleasure of listening to a brass band and jazz singer while watching snow fall through a nearby window. Despite feeling transported to New Orleans, the precipitation outside made for a beautiful (if unexpected) visual to accompany the sound and remind me where I really was.
During the band's break, I stretched my legs by going to the front bar where I immediately ran into a favorite couple who'd come in for a drink after finding Julep closed. All of a sudden, we were taking a table and getting drinks so we could catch up with each other. It was truly an unexpected pleasure.
Knowing my fondness for sweetbreads, they told me about the succulent ones they'd had tonight at Bouchon. We discussed the superiority of Bistro 27's Wagu burger. Sous-vide and who's doing it here was another hot topic. All the while, Led Zeppelin blared from the speakers, keeping me somewhere in the surreal zone.
They shared the most hilarious story of a guy we know on a quest for a leftover turkey sandwich on Thanksgiving night...which ended tragically with the offer of a lap dance (said friend got neither the sandwich nor the dance. Pity, really). Truth really is stranger than fiction.
Mentioning having recently been to the opera ignited a debate between the happy couple. The two of them bantered and finally wagered about a point of contention; he was sure he was right and so was she. I witnessed the bet, stakes were determined and they shook on it. Ah, love.
There are so many pleasures to couple dating and with any luck, I'm learning something while I'm at it.
But if not, it's an awfully entertaining way to spend an evening.