Hella America!!!! Step right up, we have it all here. Mountain ranges, oceans, lakes, bears, moose, amber waves of grain, and about 350,000 people named Amber. But I would never in a million years call myself patriotic. At least not in the flag-waving sense of the word. America as an idea though, is mighty nice: Land of the free, home of the brave, and justice for all!!! ( Except for anyone who is not pale-skinned, wealthy, or the owner of a penis, of course.) But, see…When we brought our asses to this country, it was a mostly-peaceful green place of birds and fish leaping happily in streams. Then, us immigrants said “Hey, this place kinda sucks. I hate all these stupid trees. Too peaceful. Hey, I know, Let’s chop down the trees, kill all the brown people who seem to really like it here, and put up a bunch of strip malls! Lane Bryant outlet? Quiznos? Hooters? Yolo, let’s do this brah. Don’t forget, we can always import more brown people from Africa, if we run out of natives to abuse!!! Chinese people too. The Chinese people work hard, and can build our railroads while we watch the superbowl and shoot at the gay neighbors during commercial breaks. Hey, it’s cool. Jesus would totally green-light all of this!”
Suffice it to say, I find it hard to get all gobsmacked for a country which generally does a pretty shitty job of taking care of its own most marginalized people. Therefore I don’t participate in blind patriotism. However, I have had a few distinct moments where my heart has swelled up in its husk, and I’ve said “God bless america bitches! This is what the land of the free is all about!”
And so, as we creep up on our Day of Independence, I’d like to share a few heart-warming True American stories with you. The first:
Texas Rose Country Dancing @ Lake Merritt Dance Center
About a year ago, I was convinced to try Irish dancing at the Starry Plough. I assumed it would be something like Riverdance. Spirited jigs, leprechaun kicks, and other such solo moves. However, I soon learned that Irish folk Dancing is a deeply terrifying, partner-intensive clusterfuck dance of epic proportions. That said, I had a blast! Furthermore, I will never go again. I’m so spatially challenged that spent the entire evening screaming, and clutching wildly at people like I was drowning in a kiddie pool.
And so, it was with great trepidation that I agreed to join my friends at the Texas Rose Country Dancing. Would it be a repeat of Irish Dancing? Would I end up taking down a slew of cowboys? Stepping on the toes of someone named Earl, who then breaks a bottle over my head and calls me a salty goddamn dog? What other country-western stereotype disasters could I dream up?
What a relief to learn Country dancing out to be not only fun, but a perfect fit for me! I didn’t fall down, or scream once. In addition to providing an excellent tutorial on how to two-step and line dance, our instructor dispensed sage wisdom about leading and following, that could be applied to all things. “The leader drives,” explained the instructor. “The follower looks over the leader’s shoulder, and allows themselves to be led. When the two work together, it’s a harmonious movement of one organism.” (Or something like that). Brilliant! I thought. If only we could all live this way!
I danced ALOT that night. I got spun around, twirled, and booty bumped. I worked up a fine and joyful sweat. However, my favorite part of the evening was when I rested on the sidelines tossing back a cold water, and watching all of the couples glide past me as the music twanged. The venue hosts a regular queer line-dancing night, and many of the people there that evening were of the same crowd. There were people of every shape, size, sexual orientation and ethnicity. All genders and ages were represented. There were no prescribed man/woman roles. Women danced with women. Men danced with men. Men danced with women, women danced with men. Some wore fluffy dresses, others wore flannel, and others just wore regular street clothes. It didn’t matter! Nobody gave a fuck! Everyone was just having a good time to some good old American country music. (Yes, folks. I love me some classic country!) And that’s when my patriotic feelings began to rise up in me, like a 4th of July parade. “This….this is AMERICA,” I said to my friend James, as I fought back a few tears. “This is the TRUE spirit of america. Don’t you think? All these people? All types just….dancing together?”
“Yes,” he said. “I get what you’re saying.”
I don’t know what America means to you. But to me, the diversity and openness of an event like this, says everything good about America. Despite the current potential threat of our nation being governed by an orange rodeo clown, it’s these little things that keep my spirits up and faith in humanity restored. It’s these moments that make me proud to live in one of the most eclectic and colorful urban areas of the world.
Here’s a little video of a performance from that evening! These people are cute as hell. Enjoy.
Hear! Hear! This has to be the only place in the world that gives itself permission to f*up so royally and then rise up so beautifully. We are a nation of extreme contradictions. Techie douche bros and undocumented Valedictorians. Wingnut Christians and annoying oppressive Progressives. Donalds and Bernies. Black Republicans. Divine.