Thursday, March 13, 2008


So I’m in Tennessee with Heather for Spring Break. It wasn’t quite spring because when we drove out here there was snow on the ground. But we made it, and after visiting three bookstores and the bicentennial park (view of the TN state capitol provided), I was given the quintessential Tennessean experience: a night of line dancing.

Fear not, I did not, in fact, dance in a line or otherwise because many people and things would have been injured, not least of which my pride. It was called Stampede (or the Pede by the regulars), a “Dance Hall and Saloon.” We got there early enough for the girls to get in free—$6 bought me entrance and all the two-stepping and domestic beers I could want. Though want is often relative. At first, the dance floor remained empty except for the occasional couple whirling in and out. The place picked up soon enough. Fueled by countro-pop songs or one-hit-wonders from the 80s, many, many white people repeated the same several steps over and over. And many lessons were learned.

For example, old guys are creepy. One middle-aged fellow dressed all in khaki with weighty gold rings and necklace danced nonchalant with one hand in his pocket while a gray-haired, wrinkled senior citizen wouldn’t sit one dance out in his “Your village called and their missing its idiot” shirt that he changed out of later in the night for one advertising the local college “MTSU.”

Lesson two, the business principles of strip clubs are applicable to other establishments pretending at more morality. Stampede gave change in two dollar bills, a strip club trick to double any tips. They also dispatched a number of scantily clad girls through the crowd with neon-colored shooters. Not to mention, the strip-club stares on the faces of the guys circling the dance floor where college country girls were going wild.

Perhaps the most important lesson (other than people the world over find strange ways to take up their time and attempt to touch one another) is that line dancing is not always in a line. Many of the dances have small lines of say two people dancing in a revolving circle.

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