It turns out that I'm not up to the task of dancing in 5" platforms for five hours after all. But I tried.
Tonight was the Elby's, Richmond's annual awards blowout for the restaurant business. How could I miss that?
I haven't since its inception four years ago and with this year's theme, "disco," there was even less chance I wouldn't be there. Come on, the 70s? My era? I not only planned to attend in period-appropriate attire, but critique those who dared to show up in inappropriate togs.
For example: white boots, fitted dresses, sequins and anything that looked like it came straight out of the '80s. Let me assure you, I was there and I know if we were wearing it or not.
I arrived at the VMFA a few minutes early, walking in with a favorite sous chef and nabbing a Prosecco, lemon and bitters cocktail so I could lean against the ticket counter and judge everyone who arrived thereafter. It's not that I was being critical, just looking to authenticate what passed for '70s garb.
Before long, I had plenty of company: the professional eaters, the chef clad in tight pants and no shirt, the restaurant owner with a hot haircut and jumpsuit.
We all mingled until being ushered to the auditorium for the awards. Luckily for me, I found a seat near friends and settled in to see what politics had been in play to determine the winners.
New this year was an onstage band and a group of nubile dancers who launched the show with their gyrations before host Jason Tessauro proceeded to sing and dance, thus dazzling us all.
Sure, we knew he could saber a bottle of bubbly, but sing and dance in a silver lame suit? Impressive.
In his repertoire was a song set to "Copacabana" about Metzger and another set to "Bad Mama Jama" about Julia at Secco. Both were hilarious, as was a tune set to "I Will Survive" about making the drive to Lehja to eat while cheating on Lee Gregory.
I was pleased to see Acacia win as Richmond stalwart while Jackson Ward entry the Rogue Gentlemen won for best cocktail program. All hail the Ward.
When Acacia won for wine program, sommelier Thomas said that, "We all love wine," causing an audience and staff member to shout out, "Yea, we do!" Autumn Olive Farms won for purveyor of the year, thanking Manakintowne Growers for setting the bar high 29 years ago.
When Comfort's Travis Milton won innovator of the year, he took the stage in his usual jeans and plaid attire, saying, "How in the world did I beat Travis freaking Croxton?" Appalachia trumps oysters apparently.
From there, we followed the same dancers upstairs to the marble hall for the big party under the disco ball. I had no worries about my disco worthiness, having planned my ensemble based on a 1977 photo, even using jewelry and a purse from the era.
Maybe it was my '70s-appropriate outfit, but I think it's safe to say that never in my life have I been told a half dozen times how beautiful I looked. You know, it helps to have been around for the '70s the first time.
DJ Marty Key absolutely nailed the soundtrack while playing videos from the era on the marble walls, most of which I'd never seen before (pre-MTV and all that). Who knew they were making videos of those disco songs?
Friends had managed to nab a table, so I joined them with nibbles and Prosecco to discuss the award winners, many of which we thought bad choices. As far as we were concerned, politics should not play into selection.
It seemed to everyone that the party was more crowded than last year, although it may have been the way the room was laid out. I spotted a friend tending bar and we commiserated about the crowd not properly appreciating the music of the time like we did.
All we could do about it was dance, him on one side of the wine table and me on the other. Such a waste.
Making my way around the room, I ran into plenty of friends as well as several people I had met out and about who remembered me. Meanwhile, I picked up small plates from the students at Culinard, tasting through various dishes as I went.
But eventually, I gave into the disco ball, joining the crowd on the dance floor for all the classics of my youth: Chic, ABBA, Earth, Wind and Fire, Commodores. You know, that stuff holds up amazingly well on the dance floor.
All too soon, the lights came up and it was time to vacate the VMFA and head to the after party at Can Can, where DJ Marty had mysteriously transplanted himself. No videos there, but plenty of kick ass disco music - Michael Jackson, Bee Gees, Vicki Sue Robinson - that eventually got me dancing with an award winner, a wine pourer and a front of the house manager, not to mention untold strangers.
Yes, there was bumping going on.
One woman and I discoursed on Richmonders who are slow to dance even when the music is great because of whatever repressed Puritanical breeding they are saddled with. "Just get up there and move," she said of the reluctant as we grinded up against each other.
Over the course of several hours, I had deep chats with one restaurant owner, light conversation with a cheese monger and witty repartee with a butcher. Sometime around midnight, I took off my platform shoes to let my barking dogs relax.
"No, no, there's glass on the floor," a restaurant owner warned, wine bottle in hand. I was past caring. I wasn't going to stop dancing, so I'd have to take my chances with the floor.
As I did, two different people gave me a hard time because I wasn't wearing tights, something we eschewed in the disco era.
"I get the historical accuracy, but you always wear amazing tights," one nominee insisted. Not when simulating 1977, my dear.
In case you can't tell, I had a blast tonight. A camera crew came around and interviewed me (for who knows what) and when asked why I was there, I said simply for the music. To dance.
Sure, people were getting awards, but that doesn't affect me. I'm going to eat where I want to eat. I went for the music to dance. And as instructed back in the day, I didn't stop until I got enough.
Okay, I stopped when Marty stopped playing. Unfortunately, all good boogie wonderlands must end.
Only problem is, it'll be weeks before I get all the glitter out of my apartment. Small price to pay for so much fun.