Tuesday, May 25, 2010

If the spirit moves you:



My Saturday evening can be best described by the following exchange Joshua and I shared on the way home from the night's festivities.

Me: That woman you were dancing with who was really a man seemed kinda possessive. I mean, when I tried to cut in, he/she gave me a NASTY glare. 


Him: Yeah. I don't think she was there for just, you know, "fun".  She, I mean, he, was in it for the long haul, if you know what I'm sayin'. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is really all that needs to be said about Johnny's Hideaway. However, for the uninitiated, the short story on Johnny's is this-about thirty years ago, Johnny's opened up in an Atlanta strip mall, and with its parquet dance floor, disco ball, and lounge lizard lighting, quickly became known among a certain crowd as one of the city's best places to dance. And by "certain crowd", what I really mean is: a group of Johnny's fans so motley you would most definitely not be able to pick them out of a police line-up. Except for the really tan 70-something with the home-permed hairpiece. You'd know that guy was a Johnny's regular.

But first, a couple of things to get out of the way: Johnny's is not cool in the way that Halo is cool, or the way that it's cool to have drinks with the fancy people at the St. Regis Hotel. I know this, so don't feel like you have to tell me. Those places are so cool that by the time I finish this entry, they probably won't be cool anymore. Not so with Johnny's, a destination whose appeal seems predicated on its not  trying to win you over. Johnny's doesn't need your validation. It doesn't bend to the hipsters and their cruel cultural whims. Leave the facelifts to the clientele; Johnny's is just pleased to offer you a hamburger steak and vodka tonic served with a nice mixed grill of Shania Twain/Bon Jovi/Blondie/Show Tunes. Really-the music selection is random, but so right--in fact, there was only one song I couldn't dance to, not because it wasn't a good song, but because it represented an event so infuriating that I have vowed to never enjoy said song again. And I'm not saying what it is, because I wouldn't want to ruin that song for you. Yes, I am a giver. My point is, though, in Nightclub Land, where most establishments peter out and die in three years, Johnny's Hideaway stands alone. It hasn't even changed loafers.

How did we end up there, you ask? Well, I guess you could say we needed to blow off some steam; throw cool and caution to the wind, stay out all night, etcetera.  I mean, with the year we've had, we needed a grand gesture. A nice big Barbara Streisand-life's-juicy-and-the-sun's-a-ball-of-butter moment. Our fun crisis could not be solved with the usual dinner and a movie. It required a greater level of recklessness, even, than a major thrift store shopping event wherein we purchase our weight in polyester and polish off a dozen donuts. We needed a melody. We needed to shake our groove thangs to the tune of Not Giving Up. And, dear readers, what better place to shake it than Johnny's Hideaway, a refuge for the longing souls out there who still, after all these years and botched plastic surgeries, not only still believe in love, but believe they'll find it at the Hideaway?


So we gathered some friends and made a night of it, starting things off at the Buckhead Diner, where I ordered homemade potato chips with melted Maytag Blue Cheese, and a BLT: the perfect pre-cursor to a night of dancing my brains out. I am an eater who follows theme-for instance, Joshua's choice of seared tuna felt all wrong nestled up next to the smoke and faux-Vegas glitz of Johnny's. Seared tuna is what you eat before attending a gallery opening or round-table salon on Spanx and the Modern Woman. Sorry honey, but you know I'm right. In fact, if I had to do the dinner portion again I probably would have saved room for the banana cream pie, and added a tater-tot-and-pimiento-cheese-shooter.  Have I mentioned that I was in sequins?

At first, not everybody was feeling the scene at Johnny's, and we did have some bailers. Which I understand...it can be somewhat disconcerting to walk into a nightclub and see your mother's best friend and the man-child that mows your lawn locked in the kind of embrace that puts Harlequin book-covers to shame. And yes, it must be said, the joint does have a definite cougar vibe. To be clear, though, there were plenty of younger women looking for older men with deep pockets, along with a handful of middle-aged couples dancing like overly-modest teenagers. Actually, the crowd at Johnny's was pretty diverse. I won't go as far as to call it the United Nations of Dance, but there was a five-foot tall Indian man who was in it to win it. In the end, though, I suppose Johnny's is not for everybody. If the thought of Orville Redenbacher popping it like Michael Jackson weirds you out, then you're better off staying home. But if head-banging to Living on A Prayer with a couple twenty-something chiropractors from South Carolina sounds like your cup of tea, then, you've found your perfect Hideaway.

One last thing-if you go, watch out for the woman with the wool newsboy cap and SEVERAL jauntily-tied scarves who specializes in the following dance moves: Running Man, Roger Rabbit, and Dramatic Whipping Around of Hair. She is best enjoyed from a distance--what with her flailing appendages and hair acrobatics. All I'm saying is, I whipped hair with her for less than two minutes and I could not move my neck on Sunday. And yet, in all my gyrations, I'd managed to dislodge a frozen grinch-like chunk of my heart, a part that was tired and scared and broken-down. The icy rock of uncertainty. I really think I exercised it out,  dancing with my eyes closed. For someone like me, who doesn't dance to catch a man or even burn calories, dancing is about feeling the wind in my hair, moving the plot forward. You could call it liturgical movement; I prefer spirituality in sequins. Dry bones, be gone.

7 comments:

michael moebes, esq. said...

I'd much rather be at the St Regis, given the choices named above. I've only visited Johnny's when I was stuck in the back seat after several other stops, and I ended up bolting in search of a cab shortly after sitting down and looking around.

But hey, that's just me.

Inkspot Workshop said...

Boy am I ever glad you disclosed why you went there in the first place, just wish there were pics of this scene:) Hope you had fun. P.S. did hubby score some Viagra in the bathroom?

Other People's Chicken said...

Michael-I guess I should have clarified-there ARE plenty of cinematic dance partners from which to choose, but as for me and my house, we pretty much dance alone. Joshua and I don't even really dance together, because he considers it his personal mission to dance with as many wallflowers as possible.

Other People's Chicken said...

And, I don't think either of us visited the bathroom the entire night. In order to do so, you had to traverse the smoky bar and sea of non-dancing bodies. Not fun. But I have heard the V-rumors. Weird!

Amy G. said...

who needs pictures with vivid, artistically detailed descriptions like these?
You totally threw me back to one particular Saturday night on Charles St. in Baltimore... back when I was in college.

Pictures this! (St. Olaf-style)
Mormon 20-something walks into a dance venue with her multi-pierced art friend because she really wants to dance. Only, instead she spends the night holding mirrors for trannies and avoiding the colorful make out sessions in the middle of the dance floor. And eventually finding out that the real purpose of this trip was to score some crank. Ohhhh naivety! LOL!

Other People's Chicken said...

Oh, Amy-that sounds dreadful, but also hilarious, and informative. Yay to you and your being game for an out-of-your-element experience. And for using one of my favorite words: trannies.

Diann said...

What a night! Sounds like great fun. Your description of Johnny's reminds me a little of the old Crush Bar in Hollywood. One of my more eccentric co-workers at the time had his wedding there. (Olivia, his cocker spaniel, was the bridesmaid.)