One night I went hunting for some place to dance.
First stop was Virgilio’s, a small club in a
narrow alley. Half indoors and with a star-tickler
of a kapok tree in the half outdoors side, Virgilio’s is a local’s choice. Plus, Alex the bartender is
always at the ready with my favorite bottled water. But the band was taking a break, so I paid for my water and split.
I stopped in at the fabled Green Parrot, a low slung clapboard structure with rafters hung with beads and bras. The music, while fiercely performed by a meth-fueled violinist, was impossible to dance to. The song finished and the fiddler said, “I’m gonna take a short break. Don’t go nowhere.”
I went next door to Bobalu’s, a bar like a gas station spilling onto the sidewalk, a flapping tarp overhead, a four piece band of lumpy men with straggly hair belting out a marvelous beat. Bobalu’s dance floor is a sloping patch of cement and one wrong step can jettison one, but I gave it a go. At the end of the song the band said, “We’re going to take a short break, we’ll be back in a few days.”
I set off down Duval, to the wild end, where stagnant diesel and cigar fumes never dissipate and the lurching crowd seldom disperses. At the corner of Caroline sits a building of three stories, making it a skyscraper. Ground floor is The Bull, second floor is The Whistle, and under the stars is the top floor, with the Garden of Eden. This place is ‘clothing optional’. I climbed the stairs and a glance through the entrance revealed titties wobbling and wieners hanging out; meanwhile my bottle of water was confiscated.
The Garden of Eden is an uncovered roof surrounded by a low wall and potted plants, and crowded with dancing bodies. Some clad, some not, many in half-way stages.
Two men with blonde afros and dark glasses struggled out of clothes, and then naked, except for bandanas and sunglasses they spun around, helicoptering their tootsie rolls.
A big girl in nothing but pink leggings impossibly circumnavigating an ass jutting behind her like the flatbed of a pickup truck, twisted to the techno, entertaining an enormous fellow who watched her, languidly leaning against a potted plant. A torrential rain descended and everyone was kicked out.
The rain was mostly over as I wended to my car. I passed a man with a sack of beer and his friend with a bowler hat and a guitar in a bag on his back. Sack o’ Beer said, “I noticed you earlier at Bobalu’s, you were dancing up a storm. Have a beer.”
Bowler Hat unzipped his guitar and serenaded with songs he claimed he’d composed the day before; they were lovely. Soon we had quite a gathering of others also winding down from the upsurge of the night, and in no particular hurry to go home.
Sack o’ Beer offered a hand, “Shall we?”