Last weekend, I got a call from my friend Tavi, inviting me to go dancing. I haven’t been dancing in years – I probably haven’t gone dancing since I moved to Los Angeles, and that was nearly ten years ago!
In college, I went out dancing all the time – almost every week. There’s a nightclub in Ann Arbor, Michigan (where I went to school) called Nectarine, and Friday nights were (and I presume still are) gay nights. The first few times I went, I was painfully self-conscious and uncomfortable. I felt that, as one of the biggest people in the room (if not the biggest), all eyes were on me, and not in a good way. But I kept going, always with good friends, and slowly the self-consciousness subsided and I started having a really good time. Nectarine is where I saw my first drag show – and my second, third, fourth, and so on, because they would host one every month.
When I moved out to Los Angeles, my interest in dancing waned significantly. I was intimidated – it may sound silly, but I thought there was a big difference between big city nightclubs and the one in my college town, and I didn’t think I was ready. It took me a little while to settle into Los Angeles, generally speaking – learning the landscape, finding a job, making friends, and all while staying with my aunt and uncle 45 minutes outside of town until I got my feet planted. I started establishing my life without going out to nightclubs, and I didn’t miss it. I certainly didn’t miss the self-consciousness that would have gone along with stepping into a new club scene.
So when Tavi called with the nightclub invitation, I was excited to go. I knew I wouldn’t feel self-conscious, and the good Nectarine memories far outweighed the bad. That night, I met up with Tavi, his boyfriend Antonio, and Antonio’s roommate, Brian, and we headed out.
The club we were headed to was called Club Mayan, and the evening was built around the fact that Antonio was working there that night as a go-go dancer. Club Mayan is housed within a huge old gutted theater in downtown Los Angeles that is fabulously and elaborately decorated in the style of a Mayan temple. We wandered in, and all I could think about was how fun this place would have been in its heyday, before they ripped out all the seats and slapped slapped multiple coats of paint on every surface. I snapped a couple pictures – the first is the exterior, the second is the lobby, but they don’t do the place justice:
I looked up the history of the Mayan, and, like a lot of old theaters, it has a long and fascinating history. It opened in 1927 as a Broadway-style venue for musical comedies, and then it became a movie theater. In the ’40, it was a burlesque house (it’s rumored that Marilyn Monroe performed there), and in the ’50 and ’60s, it showed Mexican and Latin American films. Then, in the ’70s, new owners turned it into an adult film theater (they even filmed some of the porno scenes in the basement), and in the late ’70s, the space was subdivided into three adult film theaters. In 1990, it was converted back into one big space and transformed into a nightclub.
It was a fun evening – except for the part where they didn’t think Tavi was wearing nice enough shoes and wouldn’t let him in (it was bullshit), so he and I had to go all the way back to Tavi’s house to grab a new pair. I wouldn’t say that the Club Mayan was my scene (but I probably can’t claim to have a scene, as I haven’t been dancing in 10 years, right?), but anything is fun when you’re with good friends. Antonio was one of five go-go dancers that rotated between a couple elevated platforms, and holy crap, Antonio is jacked. He could be covered in gray paint and stuck in the antiquities wing of any museum alongside the other Greek God sculptures. Seriously. His muscles have muscles.
Oh, and we danced! We were on the dance floor for well over an hour. The music was pretty good, and I definitely broke a sweat. I slept well that night, and I’m glad I did, because less than 12 hours after leaving the club, I was dancing again…
…in Richard Simmons’ aerobics class. The theme for that class was country music, and Richard was wearing a tank top and shorts fashioned entirely out of bandannas. Wanna see? Here’s the video from that day’s class. Keep a look out for me – I’m not sure there’s anyone lingering footage of me, but I only half paid attention while watching:
Richard’s class is around 90 minutes long, and I’d guess I danced for that long at Club Mayan… so 3 hours of dancing in a 12-hour period?
Keep it up, David!