Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dance Caving In

Last night I went to the Dance Cave, the venerable Toronto institution that specializes in retro dance parties and allowing girls to get humped by creepy perverts. I love the Dance Cave, more so since I spotted it standing in for Tom Cruises' "Caribbean nightclub" in the horrible movie Cocktail. I love it in a tolerant, sigh-inducing way. I love the way you can't wear sandals there because the floor is a sticky mess of beer and broken glass. I hate the infestation of crappy U of T kids on the weekend, with the full admission that I was once one of those crappy U of T kids. I love it, with strings.

But the main reason I love the Dance Cave, aside from when the DJ plays The Prodigy's 1995 single "Poison" during her retro-'80s night (and I danced so hard one of my boobs fell out a little), is that it's a node on the scene of the people.

Okay, I know that sounds stupid. Hear me out. Remember high school? Where everyone was mashed in together, so you had goths mixing with preps mixing with nerds mixing with pretty girls mixing with drama queens? Remember how awkward that was? Sometime after you left high school, you started to wonder where all the people who aren't you/your friends ended up. Whatever happened to the dramatic goth-lite kids who would smoke cigarettes behind the high school and come late to every class? What became of the stoner boys who were so beautiful and so high? Where did the D&D kids go, the ones who had twelve-sided die and tiny hand-painted figurines of warrior-elfs? What about the hipster-nerds, who started fight clubs in their mom's basement and who had girlfriend who never let them get to third base? Where are those people?

Because as we get older, we start self-selecting more and more for the people who are just like us. It's not a bad thing: I like my nerdy obsessions, and well past the judgmental, self-conscious confines of high school, I don't have to justify them. They're accepted by my friends and family as just Stuff We Are Into: Scott Pilgrim comics, zombie lore, bikes, weird beers, DIY haircuts, cheap sushi, the occasional foray into nature (or a close facsimile), the library. It's not that we don't interact with other people, other types of people. But do we brush up against them in such close quarters? (The subway during rush hour doesn't count.) We don't.

So even though we see the girl with blue dreadlocks on the subway, commuting to her CSR job with Rogers, listening to early Nine Inch Nails and staring into space like the rest of the ridership, we don't often see her in her natural habitat. If you want see the girls who wore cardigans and had a salon haircut, just stake out any brunch spot or Indigo books - you'll see her there, eating muffins with her boyfriend. But how many folks head out to the Dance Cave on a Monday night? Not a lot. And if you do head there, you're likely to see the girl with the blue dreadlocks. Why there? Why not at brunch? Because they rarely play big beat at Aunties and Uncles.

Frankly, I was chuffed to see a bunch of folks in their mid-30s to late-40s standing around at the Dance Cave last night. Clearly, they knew each other - maybe from other venues and events, maybe from working together through the years, maybe through friends. They were there because it was clearly one of "their places" - a venue that serves most, if not all, of their needs for a night out. And it was casual. Having a few beers and dancing to The Cure and the Chemical Brothers is just a Monday night, the way some folks always bookmark Saturday morning for the farmer's market, or Wednesday evenings for Bible study. It's a place to come together, and to feel comfortable (as comfortable as you can be dancing in leather pants and knee-high jackboots, anyway). I love that - there are so many ways of existing. Sometimes, without them right in front of my face, it's easy to forget that. Last night was a welcome reminder that, sometimes, the dark side just wants to go dancing.


  1. Blue dreadlocks awesome, that NIN demo is uh embarrassing.

  2. No, it's really not so good. But it's not like T. Reznor erupted from the womb an evil genius.