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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rachel Quits Gogo Dancing

I was 28 years old and living in West Seattle.  It was late summer, slow season, and my reserve of funds from the holiday season were dwindling.  In true battleaxe style, I set out to rectify the situation at once, intent on finding undiscovered opportunities.  I hit Craigslist, which although is now quite creepy, at one time afforded me many wonderful jobs, including my four year residency at The Pink Door.

I found an opportunity for a casino gig, not great money but not the worst either.  And it was a simple request, dancing some choreographed gogo numbers with another girl for a cover band.  Costumes were to be provided as well as a per diem and travel.  I wrote to the gatekeeper right away including all my glitzy promotional materials, to which he responded enthusiastically and sent me his own materials.  He was a middle aged bachelor and, by all means, an accomplished musician; he had a cover band that operated out of a suburb of Seattle.  He wanted to make something spectacular and had already landed a contract at one of the many casinos that littered the desert of Eastern Washington.  I privately felt that this plan carried a whiff of desperation but hey, I wasn’t there to judge.  I just wanted the job.
Time management wasn’t one of his strong suits.  As a musician, he also was not in the know about what kind of rehearsal it took to create 2 hours worth of choreographed movement (this is something that has taken me 6 months to accomplish before).  Time passed, nothing was scheduled, he was always too busy.  Then he came by to see me one night at the Pink Door.  We were scheduled to leave for the casino in one week.
After my set, we are sitting at the bar when he asks how the choreography is coming.  I responded with my characteristic grace and charm.

“So how’s the choreography coming?”
“The choreography, is it getting good and polished?  I need you to teach it to the other girl this week.”
A long silence occurs, in which I become aware of the depth of the hole I am now in.  ”You haven’t given me a set list.  I can’t choreograph a show without the score.  I’ve been asking you for it for two months.  It takes a lot longer than a week to teach two hours of choreography to someone you still haven’t introduced me to, much less create it.”
“Well I am finalizing the other dancer tomorrow.”
“ don’t have the other dancer?”
“No, but there’s plenty of time, we don’t leave for a week.  Wait, you have to have music to choreograph?”
“Of course.”
“Are you telling me that there is no choreography for our show?”
“Correct, there is no choreography for your show.  I assumed that your lack of direction meant you were ok with regular gogo dancing.”
He is not ok with regular gogo dancing.  “WHAT?!  No!  We are not just going to have gogo dancers up there, we are going to have something polished, something visual, something spectacular!  We are not just an ordinary cover band!”

Clearly, he was exactly an ordinary cover band.  I tried to explain that there was simply not enough time to accomplish his vision.  He was very upset by now and his agitated tone was creating a fog of uncomfortable tension that was spreading to the other customers.  Like a true Southern girl, I de-escalated the situation and told him I could probably accomplish some synchronized gestures to a few of the songs.  He calmed down immediately.  I was not comforted by this.
Let me underscore something here...this was entirely my fault.  Count the assumptions I made.  I didn’t educate him on my own needs, I didn’t demand his input as essential; I merely asked him for it, and then didn’t communicate that his delay made it impossible for me to do my job.  In short, I put upon this stranger who I’d just met, a blind faith that he would provide everything that I naively believed were such obvious needs, and that he would behave to the standard that I attempted to uphold.  My knowledge of human nature failed in this moment.
Although granted, he wasn’t a basket of peaches about the whole thing either.

Fast forward to the gig.  We traveled for four and a half hours into the Washington desert to a lonely little casino.  The other dancer was a lovely young woman; we had worked incessantly to choreograph, costume, and rehearse this “show” in one week’s time.  I was used to working like this; whatever it took to make it happen, get the gig, take home the reward.  Conquest.
Dancer #2 and myself sat in front of the hotel mirror putting on our makeup.  I finished and regarded the end product with satisfaction.  I then made the mistake of looking at my 19 year old counterparts’ face to make sure we matched.

Spoiler alert, we didn’t match.  In the florescent light, I looked back and forth between us.  Don’t get me wrong, I looked young at 28.  But I didn’t look 19.  That was the moment when I realized that I was about to put on glorified underwear and dance around for a bunch of old men in front of a band of old men alongside a 19 year old.  And what had completely escaped me up to that moment was, I no longer had any desire whatsoever to do that.

Sure, I was living the dream...yesterday’s dream.  My dream, minus a decade.

WTF am I doing here...

This is not a declaration of age as a marker- age is mostly a lie sent to you by society to make you feel bad about your choices.  This is about getting so caught up in the rush of your own conquest that fully nine years could pass you by without you realizing your dearest wish has quietly morphed into something else.

And trust me when when I tell you this my friends, you do not have time to do both.

Let us choose wisely- just because it pays doesn’t make it worth your time.

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