Don’t know what else to call him, but if you saw him, you’ll know exactly who I’m talking about the moment you read the title.
It’s funny what you remember as you get older and the fiery nights of hope and promise of your 20’s grow ever-distant, and you increasingly search for some sort of evidence that what you do remember actually did happen. Yes, you were young, you were full of energy, and you were going to stake your place in the world and in history, and you marched diligently out into the city on as many nights as you could to prove it to others.
I’ve always liked a few songs by Tones on Tail, but invariably the more popular songs by this 80s era goth/dance band trigger not an urge to tap my toes or memories of various late-80s DC hangouts (a few favorites being the Back Alley Café, Trax, the Fifth Column, the 930 Club, etc.), but the vision of a 40-something very much out-of-place man oddly whirling solo in the middle of the dance floor with a seemingly endless energy that I in my 20s couldn’t match. Perhaps cocaine- or alcohol-fueled, the guy never seemed to talk to anybody (nor anybody to him), and he seemed to wear more than his share of checkered flannel and Dickies (and no, not in the cool “I’m a proletarian” kind of way). At first I thought perhaps he was one of those types who’d stay true to the cause till death and was deeply accepted in the way that the aging bartenders at these clubs, bars, and restaurants were, but now I tend to think not.
I never mustered the courage to talk to him, but he was a topic of conversation for us, even then. Now as I grow closer to his age, I wonder even more what he must’ve been thinking then or what his “back story” was. It wasn’t so much that he was out of place in that particular crowd, for the odd anomaly rarely registers at all; no, it was that he was consistently and obliviously out of place. I seem to recall seeing him at no less than three different clubs (the short-lived Pub Club, Poseurs, and Cagney’s, off the top of my head) over a period of at least two years. At one point, he was a veritable fixture at certain clubs on certain nights, and not seeing him was stranger than seeing him.
We’d surmised that perhaps he was recently divorced and was dancing off his loneliness, but I’d imagine that this is not the truth–that would be too easy, wouldn’t it? Maybe he honestly enjoyed the music, I really don’t know.
I know a friend who remembers this guy as clearly as I do. There must be somebody else who knows who I’m talking about. Where are you?