Sunday, October 5, 2014


Tonight, there was no parking on the dance floor. And the good news is, I can still dance for three hours straight without a break.

The idiocy is that I waited until 1:45 to take off my shoes and dance barefoot.

Like every year, the headliner of the Second Street festival was assured of my presence and that meant Midnight Star could count on me to be one of the hundreds crowded into the parking lot at First and Marshall.

I'll admit, walking over I couldn't recall the name of a single Midnight Star song, but I spent far too much time in clubs in the '80s to think I wouldn't recognize them once I heard them.

I sure did.

Arriving just as the band took the stage, I couldn't have timed it better. It helps being alone at a shoulder to shoulder show because every time a hole opened up, I sidled up and filled it.

When a musician onstage is playing keytar, I have to get as close as I can. That and the guy in the front row wearing a red suit and matching fedora needed to be appreciated from a shorter distance.

Diving right into the '80s, they did "Headlines" and "Wet My Whistle," inciting the old guy in front of me to dance all the way to the ground getting jiggy with it while "Midas Touch" had a guy near me crooning in his woman's ear.

Giving the crowd what they wanted, the band danced in step as they played and sang. Singer Belinda got the women in the audience riled up when she started talking about not being married yet.

"You know you're lucky when you can find someone you want to spend your whole life with. I found someone and he treats me real good. But sometimes," dramatic pause here, "he can irritate a sister. You know what I'm talking about, ladies?"

We sure as hell did.

That took us into their mega-hit "Operator" and the crowd into a frenzy. "Y'all wanna do it like we did it in the '80s?" guitarist Bo hollered before they band broke into the synchronized dance moves from the original "Operator" video circa 1984, although minus the bad '80s hair and clothes.

Of course the crowd was dancing everywhere, including two women who'd come out the window of the second floor of the Jamaica restaurant to dance on the roof.

"I hope she don't fall off," a guy near me said to me. Talk about a mid-show buzz kill.

Lots of people sang along to "Night Rider" and way too many phones and cameras came out for "Curious," but what am I going to do about it? Ignore it.

Apparently Midnight Star wrote a lot of other people's hits, too, so we got to hear Klymaxx's "Meeting in the Ladies' Room," a song by Toni Braxton and the Whispers' "Rock Steady," which about brought the house down.

They cooled us off with a song we all knew (even me), "Slow Jam," and just about everyone who had a mate was slow dancing in the parking lot to that one.

But they couldn't leave us mooney, so they brought out all the stops for "No Parking on the Dance Floor" and people danced on chairs, with strangers (or was that just me?), with kids and by themselves until Midnight Star said goodnight.

Which was my signal to high tail it to dinner, namely Amour.

The restaurant was busy but there were only two people at the bar where I began with a new-to-me pink bubbly, Willm Cremant d'Alsace Rose, a light-bodied floral beauty that I could get used to. Just to confuse things, I was also offered a taste of Willm Blanc de Blanc, the sort of bubbly I could drink morning, noon or night.

With the Django Reinhardt station playing, I ordered a meat and cheese plate, trying desperately to get my order in before the ten-top did.

The array that arrived on the slate was magnificent: Petit Basque, Fourme d'Ambert, Comte and Boucheron beside dried blueberries, figs and craisins plus speck, Tuscan sausage, Olli salume and prosciutto and fresh grapes, mustards and country pate.

While chatting with whomever was available - the photographer, the runner - I dug into the spread, very happy I didn't have to share it with anyone.

Because Amour excels at pairing wine with food, I also switched wines, savoring La Tour Chambert Cahors with my meat and cheese, an ideal complement to my meal.

One of the servers told me how great my hair looked. What a great thing to be told.

I briefly considered skipping dessert, but why would I? Instead I took my server's recommendation and had a mixed berry and apple crisp with whipped cream, an ideal summer to fall transition dessert. Clearly, it had been too long since I'd eaten at Amour.

By the time I left there, a DJ had set up across the street at Cary Court, blasting his BPM to anyone within a five-block radius.

But I had other music in mind.

A drive to Church Hill landed me at Metzger for an evening with Mr. Fine Wine, a DJ I'd fallen hard for at one of my previous Metzger visits. I'd been listening to his podcasts at home ever since, smitten with his old school soul.

They'd somehow coerced him to come down and play a three-hour set and I'd not hesitated in accepting my invitation to be part of it.

First stop: the bar for a glass of Anton Bauer Rose and some quick conversation with friends before joining the throng on the dance floor.

You have to understand, Mr. Fine Wine plays totally obscure, completely danceable soul music that never lets up. Each three-minute gem leads into the next so I could never find a reason to leave the dance floor.

Who did I dance with? The recently separated baker. The wine buyer. The bartender. The DJ and his wife. The singer. The wine bar servers. The ukulele player, but only for a moment. Myself and a whole lot of strangers.

A girl came up and told me she saw me all the time in Oregon Hill and introduced herself so now we'd know each other. Then we danced.

To my recollection, the only time I wasn't dancing was when I got another glass of wine and when I got more water.

Truly, it was only when I went to the bathroom that I realized how many familiar faces were there. Two chefs. One restaurant owner. A vintage store owner. Musicians from multiple bands I've heard.

Coming back from the loo, I ran into a friend and we conspired to open the windows to allow in cool, night air to the overheated restaurant full of people dancing crazily.

The music was so good and I can honestly say I recognized only one song, "I Got My Mind Set On You," and even then, I only knew the George Harrison cover, not the original I was hearing.

Didn't matter. It was totally danceable.

When I saw DJ Mr. Fine Wine walking by, I stopped him to tell him how enthralled I'd been with his music when I'd first heard it at Metzger, even going home to listen to it online.

"That's amazing! Thank you!" he said, grabbing me in a full-on hug. So, yes, I've been hugged by Mr. Fine Wine.

Best of all, it was one of those nights where our dance moves spanned decades: the frug, the pony, the swim, the monkey and just about every variation you can imagine (or make up). After a while, I just danced and didn't care.

A group of restaurant people formed two lines, a la Soul Train, and I somehow got pulled in to dance down the middle. Why not?

At one point, I leaned over to a woman and whispered, "We're the only ones who were born when this came out." She laughed and danced with me in acknowledgement.

After two last calls, the final song played and the dancing ended. It was a heartbreaking moment as people spilled out on the sidewalk.

How was it 2 a.m. already? How had three hours passed so quickly?

Don't know, don't care. I feel certain Midnight Star would approve. I hadn't parked for so much as a second.

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