Like Nicky Minaj, there are many random alter egos that float around in my head, every so often popping out during conversation. Some have a back story, like the sassy Southern woman who fans herself when the vapors take over her body, usually prompted by an extremely physically fit man. Another consists solely of me fake-slashing at a person’s throat and yelling out, “Hungah games!” in an inexplicable Australian accent.
This is what happens to theater kids who grow up and have no stage on which to perform. They annoy their friends, family and co-workers with stupid voices and count the days till Halloween when they can fully commit to character and not break the fourth wall all night. It’s a very Stanislavski way of living. Method annoyance, if you will.
I think it’s my suppressed theater kid that sets me out to find places where I can perform in one way or another. This is how I ended up country line dancing at Urban Mo’s Kicker’s Country Western Night. I was summoned to the popular gay bar by the promise of line dancing to cheesy pop tunes and a poster featuring a greased-up beefcake in a cowboy hat with abs that look like corn on the cob.
My friend Michelle and I showed up early for the line-dancing lesson, because the closest thing to country two- steppin’ I know is the Caballo Dorado, which is basically the electric slide danced to a Spanish version of “Achy Breaky Heart.” It’s a staple of every Mexican wedding and quinceañera.
I’ve never done the steps without the aid of tequila drinks and my aunts cackling like hyenas in the background, and, honestly, I’m not sure I could.
We sipped on huge mugs of $4 draft Bud Light and watched as gay men and women of all shapes, sizes and colors stepped, kicked and dosey-doe’d along with Rosa the instructor. I didn’t expect them to be bad, but I also didn’t expect them to be so damn good.
Billy Ray Cyrus, I believe you got served.
We stared like a couple of creeps, commenting on the sexy body rolls that dancers threw in while dancing to “Call Me Maybe” and “Moves Like Jagger.” Michelle and I have what she calls “grad school feminist rants” about exotification, but in that moment, we were the stereotypical women wishing we could be the Grace to every one of those gorgeous men’s Will—as if any man, gay or straight, really wants to hear a couple of harpies whine about boys or ask for makeover advice.
When Rosa said the next dance she’d teach would be easy, I took it as an opportunity to take a turn. Loosened up by what felt like 500 ounces of Bud Light swishing around in my stomach, I followed along next to a gorgeous guy in a black tank top, jeans so tight they looked like someone had painted them on his legs and a giant belt buckle that spelled out the word “fuck.” As instructed, I kicked twice and did a grapevine to the left, then repeated the steps to the right, along with Fuck Buckle and all the others. My calves were immediately on fire.
Once we had it down, Rosa turned up the music and—Oh, lawd—I got a fit of the vapors hotter than a billy goat’s butt in a pepper patch when “Down South Shuffle” came on. Google later informed me that this Deep South line-dancing banger is by R3 featuring Big Robb. If you have a secret or not-so-secret obsession with Southern rap or anything that requires booty-poppin’, do yourself a favor and YouTube this song. It’s amazing and ridiculous.
As I stepped, I fought against my body’s natural inclination to drop it low and twerk it until I looked around and saw that others had given in to this same sensation in their loins. Together, we kicked, stepped and threw in a sassy pop of the butt when it felt right. Later, I would get the chance to shuffle again, and that time, I threw in a few spins for good measure. In my head I imagined it looking great. I chose to ignore what I actually saw in the mirror.
Michelle noticed that all the men stayed to one side while the women mingled on the opposite end of the dance floor, as if they were at a middle-school dance. So, I decided to walk up to a small group of women and ask if one of them would join me for a couples dance. A tiny woman named Jen obliged, though I got the feeling she was not that stoked to dance with me. She told me she didn’t want to lead, which meant she’d stand behind me and guide our moves, because someone once ruined her $300 pair of shoes by being terrible at dancing. Clearly, she had not ignored my moves on the floor.
I asked Rosa what it would take for me to get on everyone else’s level of urban-country goodness. She advised me to “learn the steps vanilla and, later, once you have it down, add the body rolls.” Whoops. I’d already violated that advice.
I also asked her about the difference between a straight country night and a gay one, besides the higher number of gun owners and conservative voters. At gay clubs, she said, women tend to bring the drama, fighting or storming out of the bar when an ex-girlfriend turns up.
“The guys can have 10 guys they’ve been with here and don’t care. They just want to have fun,” she said.
So, not that different from a straight country night, or any other kind of club night, for that matter, then? Bitch fights, tight tushies and cheesy pop gold? That’s the kind of country I want to party in.
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