Team magazine held its third Gay Bar and this time, it was called Stranger Flings. It was at the Ocean’s Telephone Company at Forbestown and it was small and intimate at the beginning. Christmas lights were hung up to decorate the place and people were asked to come in 80s fashion.
Probably only 5 or 6 people came dressed in theme but people came and by 11am with Judd Figuerres manning the decks, the place was packed tight with everyone dancing and singing along to the beats.
Back when I started writing for the lifestyle section of a newspaper did I start getting the VIP treatment. Prior to that, I’d line up and pay to enter bars and clubs but because I just knew how to navigate myself in social situations, I’d either find myself a guest of the bar owner or club or friends with someone who was.
When I become lifestyle press, I was always welcomed to every freaking party and it was sort of a work thing back in the latter part of the first decade of the 21st Century. 2007-2010 was rife with parties and I attended a good share of them.
And I was good at it. I was great at small talk, circulating around, and saying hi to everyone. I had a knack for it. It got me writing jobs and my network vastly improved. I just had a sort of gift for it, I guess.
But something happened on my way to 30 and probably also an after effect with my first brush with death that I just lost that skill.
I’m still friendly and I can still hold my own and even flourish in a social situation. I’m empathic and I generally like people. It comes in handy.
But I’ve lost the skill of small talk. I have no use for it. I like to get deep. Time is precious and I have very little use for surface conversation.
I remember being introduced to a friend of a friend in a bar sometime around 2011. We were talking and after twenty minutes, he told me, “You don’t do small talk, do you? We just met but I feel like I’ve told you things I haven’t told anybody yet!”
That’s me. My empathy allows me to flow with a person’s style and by sharing much about myself and then really listening to them talk, I find myself asking questions that go deeper into who they are.
No, I guess I just don’t do small talk anymore. I can’t. I don’t have time for it.
So being at Stranger Flings freaked me out at first. My friends Paolo Lorenzana, Team magazine Editor-in-Chief, and Victor Platon, Team magazine’s head cheerleader and senior sorority sister, was circulating and getting the crowd comfortable and I was left alone quite a bit.
I found myself feeling nervous, on edge, and guarded. I found it funny because, ten years ago, I would have been all over the place and being all so sociable and friendly. I’d probably end up with new friends.
I thought it was funny that I was horribly nervous and just waiting for familiar faces to show up.
They did, though. Friends started to arrive and with them around me, I started to relax. We couldn’t really talk and I found myself itching to bring them outside so we could, but that wasn’t the point of going.
So when the beat got pounding, I began to dance and I started to feel right.
That’s the thing with dancing. That’s all I need. By midnight, a lot of people had left and while the bar was still packed, there was space enough to move and breathe. So I danced. I danced and felt alive.
It was an awesome feeling to just lose yourself and so while many of my friends had left or gone to their respective cliques (of which I didn’t feel comfortable enough to crash, without the ability to talk, I couldn’t socialize properly), I found my footing and danced alone.
At some point, Paolo and Victor had taken residence at the center booth, in the middle of all the action, and so I went there where I was welcomed. There we danced and sang and I was waiting for the right song to dance to before I made my exit.
It came when the DJ played Dancing on my Own by Robyn. When the beat began to pulse, I jumped out of the booth to my little space on the dance floor and just surrendered to the music.
That was potent shit right there. That song. Me, alone, in a bar full of people and I was dancing like nobody’s business.
When it ended, I said good bye to my friends and made my way home.
I had grown up. I had changed. But I could still dance. That would never change, I think.