Thursday, January 26, 2006

Dance, You Bastards

Sundance, in case you’ve never been, can offer two kinds of experiences. There’s the go-go, party-all-the-time-and-occasionally-see-a-movie, swag-gathering steam-roller. And then there’s the kinda solitary, shuttle-from-screening room-to-screening room-barely-talking-to-anyone-else-for-celestial-cycles-at-a-clip marathon.

Since I’m neither famous nor, nor devastatingly handsome, nor a 22-year-old ski bunny, I’ve never had that first experience. And I’m pretty cool with the second. But this year I landed, for a brief moment, in the first.

A little background: the magazine I work for, the weekly entertainment one, has been a Sundance sponsor for years, since it’s inception, I believe. And, as such, we have a pretty big presence out here. Our logo is all over the place, we’ve got a photo studio that famous people drop into, we throw a huge party on opening weekend, blah blah blah. We also send a pretty decent-size contingent of writers, reporters and editors.

So I’m hanging out with Neil, one of our senior writers and, from what I can tell, one of the 14 other black guys in Utah this week. It’s his birthday. So, in honor of his being born, we go out for a few drinks. There was a party for this horror movie, so we hit it. (This is, if you know me, kind of uncharacteristic for me. Not a party-hitter, I.) Had a decent time, at least until the last-call that came 45 minutes after we got there.

Back on the street, we saw this giant sign for something called X-Dance. Apparently, -dance is only second to –gate for the Overused Suffix Award. There’s Sundance, Slamdance, Tromadance, even something called Chefdance (which featured depressed culinary artists cooking to the strains of "Everybody Hurts." At least, that's what I imagined it featured, since I didn't actually go.). Our curiosity piqued, Neil and I went in.

What we saw inside was one of the more interesting anthropological spectacles I’ve ever witnessed.

First off, can I just let the phrase Canadian rap trio roll around in your heads for a bit? Yeah, three white guys in dreadlocks and carefully not-trimmed facial hair trying their best to sound like the Jungle Brothers and failing. (Not that I have anything against white rappers: I digs me some Beastie Boys and will still jump any time The House of Pain tells me to.)

But what was so fascinating was that the audience inside was entirely made up of white snowboard dudes and the bunnies they were trying to score with. It was a hip-hop club without any black people, save Neil, myself, and two other dudes who looked about as astonished as we did.

You just would never have seen anything remotely resembling this 10 years ago. A couple of adventurous white guys in a black club, getting their swerve on, sure. But this was…new, to me, at least.

To commemorate this new find, Neil and I started doing tequila shots. I have since forgotten what happened the rest of that evening. I think there were skis, baked cheetos, and a 4am cab ride involved. (I should really know by now that tequila is just not your friend. No matter what he promises, no matter how many times he says that it'll be different from last time…that fucker just lies.)

Next time I'll talk about the movies. Let me just say, the worst one I saw was about a superhero. Yeah, at Sundance.

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