When someone asks you to come along to watch gay square dancers in Halloween costumes, how can you say no? We had been dying to see our friend Gary call a square dance, so we tagged along to Atlanta for the weekend.
The drive from Asheville to Atlanta was beautiful. The leaves are still changing colors and reaching their peak in the mountains and the lower elevations, so we left cold, rainy Asheville and drove down into warmer, sunny parts of North Carolina and Georgia. We stopped at the Tallulah Point Overlook and took in the sights of the Tallulah Gorge, which the Great Wallenda crossed on a tight rope in 1970. Then we stopped at Jaemor Farm Market, which was surrounded by an apple orchard and fields of corn. A corn maze beckoned, but we were there for their fried apple pies and apple fritters. I went one step further and had the apple cider. You know what they say: "A fried apple a day keeps the doctor away." Or something like that.
We stayed at the beautiful W Hotel in Atlanta, which is hip and trendy in the phoniest way. It made me miss L.A. No one does hip, trendy and phony like Los Angeles. We checked in, then headed off to dinner, a costume change, then the square dance. Michael and I wore our western shirts from Drysdale's in Tulsa, so we felt appropriately attired to watch a hoe-down. Gary was decked out as a pregnant nun, and a good number of the dancers were in costume as well.
How to describe the square dance? Michael can attest that once it got started, I actually got a little choked up. Maybe because it had been such an oppressive week politically and economically, with the whole world seemingly lining up to hate the gays. But the wild abandon and the camaraderie of the dancers really got to me. It was a mixed crowd of gays, lesbians and straights, so sometimes men were leading and sometimes women were leading, and when Gary called for the girls or boys to do something specific, you always got a mixed bag of genders. And everyone was smiling and hugging and having such a good time, I totally lost it. Why can't the world just get along and square dance?
Michael was completely disgusted/baffled by my emotional meltdown, but I chalk it up to just about the only thing that can make me cry: triumph of the human spirit. Sure, the world is crumbling down around us, but you can't crush the human spirit. We will dance and we will sing and we will triumph.
Clearly, I needed a drink. So after the square dance festivities, we headed out to a bar called the Three Legged Cowboy. Yup, it's a gay country and western dance bar. So Michael and I got to watch everyone line dancing and two-stepping. I've actually seen this sort of thing before at gay bars in Dallas and even Los Angeles. In fact, I think I've only ever seen men two-stepping together. I should watch mixed couples do it some time. Anyway, it's really fun to watch. I particularly like the fast, centrifugal force kind of spinning and the death-defying fancy footwork. Plus, it's hard not to enjoy watching good looking guys in jeans, boots and cowboy hats. Gary has promised to teach us how to do it. Which, to me, means one thing: shoe shopping.
On Sunday, we headed back towards Asheville, but stopped first at an outlet mall outside of Atlanta. I've been needing a Restoration Hardware and Kenneth Cole fix, so it was nice to be back among familiar shopping venues. Then we headed off to Helen, GA, which we had read about a few weeks ago as a town that celebrates Octoberfest all month long. Well, how could they not? Helen is a little German town in the mountains. It was really adorable, with all the chalet and village style of architecture. It was touristy with a capital T, but it was still cute and I was kind of glad that such a place exists. It was very similar to Solvang in California, but on a bigger scale. We shopped a little, had dinner, then began the final leg back to Asheville.
It was a fun weekend. And I sort of like tagging along with locals doing their thing, instead of trying to plan my own experience. It's somehow more authentic. Now, everybody bow to your partner!