Last night, I joined my friends Kathy and Mark, and their friends Bill and Joyce, at the Alta, Iowa,* Fireman’s Ball. I wore hairspray and lip gloss. It’s the closest I’ve come to a date in 2 years.
We had a great time and a considerable amount of beer.** Since I drink less than one bottle of beer a month, 5 or 6 cups of watery Bud Light draft had me feeling pretty happy. The best part of the evening was watching the dance floor. It was usually pretty crowded, but apart from the come-and-goers, there were about 8 couples that were going to get the most from their $10 cover. Few, if any, were much younger than me, and most were a bit older, including one couple who were both wearing what may well have been their original saddle shoes. The man had a slight old-age hump and the woman’s hair had that intensity of color that only comes from applying hair dye over white hair. Together, they tore that dance floor apart!
There were four bands. Bands number 1, 3, and 4 were quite good, playing the mix of oldies and country that you’d expect at a n.w. Iowa dance. Band number 2, now, that was my favorite. A drummer, two guitars, and a lead singer, the members were all either just out of high school or in their senior year. They could really play, but their play list mostly emptied the dance floor — except for that core of dedicated dancers. The band’s name was Saving Reality*** and their first song was Foxy Lady. After a few moments of puzzlement, four couples gamely line danced to a Hendrix cover. The band followed that with Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla, to which no one danced but I headbanged a bit and maybe played a little air guitar**** (I was on beer #6. Or, okay, possibly 7).
Next, Saving Reality played Moonchild, which, it turns out, can back a surprisingly nice two-step. Their next song was ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man, which filled the dance floor until the extended drum solo. Everyone eventually stopped dancing except for the saddle-shoed couple, which continued to swing dance faster and faster and faster….I truly was becoming a bit alarmed about the man’s heart when they finally had to stop to breathe. But the drum solo only outlasted them by about 30 seconds!
So that’s the night life in n.w Iowa. Today, I’m going to return to my placid, non lip glossed life. Knit a bit. Read a novel. Bake a tamale pie. Go to bed at ten. But Kathy, Mark, Bill, Joyce, and I, we’ll always have the Alta, Iowa, Firemen’s Ball.
*Seven miles from Storm Lake. Population, 1900.
**I got home after midnight. Most Saturday nights, what I’m doing after midnight is groggily climbing out of bed to let one of the dogs out.
*** I can just imagine them sitting around the barn coming up with a suitably vague, alternative-esque name
****this may help explain why no one asked me to dance all evening.*****
*****Damnit! What a waste of lip gloss.