Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thank You for a Funky Time

I mean, how could I not stand in line with a purple umbrella under a pouring rain?

If the Byrd was going to show "Purple Rain," why would I not be there to see it? I'm not ashamed to say I'm still mourning the loss of a talent the likes of which I may never see again.

So, like any self-respecting fan who first saw the movie in 1984, I dressed the part with a purple shirt, ruffles and big hair and headed to Carytown early before the rest of the purple-clad masses arrived.

Secco welcomed me into its bosom with a Nebbiolo Rose, a mixed green salad with Feta and red onion and Spanish octopus with fiddleheads ('tis the season), savored along with a Shins-based soundtrack.

When I overheard the servers discussing Beyonce's "Lemonade," I invited them closer so I could hear their thoughts. One postulated that Bey and Jay Z. planned it all and there was never any real marital strife between them, while the other thought the album was a laundry list of women's complaints with the world, meant to be a manifesto.

Together they explained why L'il Kim was a far more significant music figure than she was given credit for and why Beyonce's feminist tracks owes a lot to Kim's groundbreaking style.

I'd forgotten what fertile territory Secco is for first date-watching and tonight was no exception. The duo nearest me spoke awkwardly until the first glasses of wine kicked in and then he began sharing his music taste (Dave Matthews Band - run, girl, run!) and she how demanding her nursing schedule is.

After she shared a story, his response was, "Sure you did! It's a cake job. You needed 20,000 steps today."  If I were to translate that, I'd say he insulted her, made light of her work and then presumed she's a Fitbit junkie, but what do I know?

Hearing that one of the dessert options was Baked Alaska, I told my server about my own Baked Alaska period (slightly before the "Purple Rain" period) when I decided that it wasn't all that difficult a thing to make and did so for many special occasions.

Even so, what I'd done in quantity couldn't have been matched by the quality of this version: a pistachio cookie topped with orange ice cream, blood orange slices and meringue, all situated on crushed pistachios and blood orange puree.

Hell, back when I was making Baked Alaskas, I'd probably never even heard of a blood orange.

In line at the Byrd by 8:30, I saw manager Todd in an orange shirt and chided him. "Just you wait!" he promised, directing traffic on the sidewalk.

Best of all, it began to rain, necessitating me taking out my - wait for it - purple umbrella. A man walked by in a purple frock coat and top hat.

In front of me was a trio from Philly (complaining about how southern drivers are clueless at merging and roundabouts) chain vaping (apparently that's a thing) and behind me a woman from Vancouver who in ten years of living here had never been to the Byrd.

Once we bought tickets, we switched lines and stood in the purple rain waiting to get in. Not a soul complained. The crowd was big enough to justify opening the balcony while latecomers straggled in looking for seats together in the rapidly-filling theater.

After taking a prime end seat, a guy asked to get by, explaining, "I'm with my mother," as if that mattered. He and Mom, a retired high school English teacher with a doctorate, quickly initiated conversation with me and I learned that she'd had six sons (I loved her stories of fading into the background when all six men get together - so relatable to what my Dad does when me and my five sisters get together), one of whom was with her and another, Mike, who was on his way.

Older brother was frustrated because Mike, who had initiated the evening, had yet to arrive and was not answering his phone. "That's just the kind of thing he would do," he complained repeatedly. Then why get upset if he's acting in his normal way?

"Good point!" he agreed, as if he hadn't realized the obvious.

Finally everyone was seated and Todd introduced the film wearing a purple shirt, saying, "This is what it sounds like when doves cry..."

The film had just begun to massive cheering with "Let's Go Crazy" when suddenly a man was at my side in the dark asking to get by.

Mike, you finally got here, I said to the stranger. Once he realized I knew his name, he asked for mine, demanded a hug and suggested he sit next to me.

He was a worthy seatmate, hooting and hollering along with the rest of the vocal crowd who'd come to be immersed in the purple world, and clearly very familiar with the film.

But unlike the more seasoned members of the audience, Mike couldn't possibly appreciate the '80s world depicted in the film like some of us could. Champagne served in martini glasses! So many VW Squarebacks! Impossibly big hair on girls wearing gloves! Perfectly applied eyeliner on so many guys!

I'm here to tell you it was all true, or at least it was true in the clubs of Washington, D.C. in the '80s. Unfortunately, back then it was also okay to have lines about "long-haired faggots" and that language is not missed.

The crowd couldn't stop themselves from reacting to the songs, so as "When Doves Cry" began, I heard murmurs - "There's my song!" and "Here we go!" - of affirmation and clapping in time by most of the room. Mike and I were already dancing in our seats anyway.

Seeing the Time onscreen brought back memories of seeing them at the Second Street Festival a few years ago, Morris Day and Jerome still seamless dancing partners, if a bit longer in the tooth.

Either many in the crowd hadn't seen the film before or had forgotten it because during the domestic violence scenes, there was utter silence.

Cheers ensued after Prince did "Purple Rain" and the lights in the theater's alcoves began pulsing in time to the music with "I Would Die 4 U" and finally, "Baby I'm a Star," his dancing bringing people to their feet, cheering and clapping.

Truly, it was as much a religious experience as a heathen like me could hope to have. Watching the beautiful young (26!) Prince onscreen for the first time in 32 years was powerful, made more so for the adoring energy in the room.

Walking out afterwards, the guy next to me says to no one in particular, "I gotta come back Saturday to see it again." Amen, brother.

This is what it sounds like when fans mourn.

1 comment:

  1. Just like I remember the film the first time I saw it in the theatre. We were all so young then as well😌. Loved the feel of this commentary darlin'.