Morning Gloryville

Back in August, I went back to my old stomping grounds of San Francisco for a work conference. There, in addition to all the other oddball things that were – let’s be honest – par for the course for the city (10:00 pm runs for banana creme pie, elaborate mini golf in a bar, Japanese karaoke … the usual), I found something truly extraordinary. Prepare, friends, for a gem of the universe called Morning Gloryville.

This (because don’t tell me you’ve guessed what it is — you haven’t) is a sparkle-filled, legging-wearing, high energy dance party. Oh, and one detail: It starts at 6:30 in the morning.

6:30 IN THE MORNING. Normal people are sleeping at this hour. Or at the very least showering and putting on makeup. They are not dancing.

But at Morning Gloryville, they are. My friend Lindsay and I arrived in a cab, stressed and thinking we were late, only to be greeted by a cheery woman in pigtails. “You’re here!” she gleefully exclaimed when we got out of the car. She gave us both hugs. I thought Lindsay knew her. Nope.

Inside, a shirtless man with angel wings checked us in. “You need more glitter,” he said, looking at me. He gave me a sheet of gold stars to stick on to my face.

The interior was a huge warehouse filled with fresh-squeezed juice, homemade muffins, and at least a hundred and quite possibly more people dancing. Everyone is in crazy colors and things like zebra patterns, and everyone is rocking out. Heads nodding, hands jiving, legs pumping. A woman is hula hooping in the corner, and a man has climbed atop a spotlight box in the center of the room and is in his own zone. Everywhere there are balloons, and everywhere there is glitter. It is amazing. It’s not even like a real place.

Morning Gloryville … Pf. Whoever thought of that, serious props. And oh, one other thing: Please come to DC. Government workers need dancing, too.

Tara Trinity and the Beat Beat Beat of the Rain

My friend Tara Trinity is truly one-of-kind. I honestly know no one like her. She’s vivacious, supremely talented, and game for anything. Literally anything. This girl has more fun than anyone I know. She loves her life.

We’re friends because we’re both loud, restless, and high energy. We’re easily bored. We love to dance. We love meeting new people.

Tara called me one Sunday afternoon and asked if I wanted to come with her to the middle of nowhere in Virginia to drop off her son at his father’s. I went. It was a beautiful afternoon. We blasted merengue from the car with the sun roof open. Afterward, I convinced Tara to go to a klezmer dance lesson with me at the DC JCC. Dance lessons are free every Sunday night. This, in my view, is a serious find. I love dancing. I love music. I could even go so far as to say I love klezmer. It’s high energy, it’s emotional … You get to clap and stomp your feet. I mean really this is the ideal activity for someone like me.

In any case, Tara was not especially excited about going, but she went, because that’s exactly how Tara is: She’s never one to turn down an opportunity to do something new. And obviously, being the very talented artist she is, she was far better at it than I was.

Afterward, we found it was raining outside. Tara drove us home. We joke we’re secret best friends because we’re more or less neighbors. We sat in the car talking when we got to my house. “Oh! I have something you should listen to,” said Tara. She had met these English boys in Miami and they had sent her a playlist of a bunch of Euro house (of course – this would happen to Tara). On it was a Zwette remix of a Tom ODell song that would in a span of two weeks garner more plays than any other song I had listened to that year.

“Isn’t it good?” She asked. We sat in the car, listening to the song. The rain pattered quietly against the windshield, like the beat of the music.

I don’t see Tara as often I should, especially given that we live right by each other, but when I do see her, it’s always amazing. There are always magical moments like that. She has such joie de vivre. It’s infectious. I could only be so lucky to live my life to the extent that she lives hers. She is a very special friend.

An Open Rehearsal for Some of D.C.’s Secret Best

An Open Rehearsal for Some of D.C.’s Secret Best

A couple of weeks ago, Brian took me to an open rehearsal for Humble Fire in the Jamjar basement in Mt. Pleasant. Jamjar, if you don’t know, is one of the many DIY/DIT venues in D.C., and Humble Fire uses … Continue reading

Blues and Beet Gazpacho

Brian Farrow knows everyone in this city. Last week I won tickets to see Shakespeare Theatre’s performance of Noel Coward’s Private Lives, which, side note, was wittily interpreted and had me laughing throughout (Second side note: What kind of couple dissolves imminent fights by playacting as if they were Tunisian harlots, gentile aristocrats, and lions? Not sure, but I love it. Also, if all fights could end with a snappy piano rendition of “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” that would be bomb.), and afterward, Brian, who had been my guest, invited me to a house party in Mt. Pleasant.

If you haven’t figured this out yet, Mt. Pleasant hosts a substantial number of house parties. All of them are great. You should always go.

This one was at Brian’s friend Sitali’s house. Sitali is another musician. He had invited Robert Lighthouse and some other musicians over to play some blues.

I love the blues. My dad spent a lot of time in New Orleans, and we often had the blues playing in our house when I was growing up. When I was 17, I formed a one-girl blues band that sometimes included my eight-year-old neighbor. It was called Sugarpie Stanton and her Kingbiscuit Swingers. The name was a lot flashier than the band itself, I’m sorry to say.

Anyway, point being, when I heard this was not just any house show but a blues house show we were going to, I was pretty excited.

When I walked in, I was handed a square cup of beet gazpacho. There were trays of ribs, pickled watermelon, and giant s’mores out back. We sat around on the porch a while chatting and playing the kazoo. I carry one around in my purse, because that’s the type of quirky person I am.

After a bit we went inside. The guys were going to start jamming. A bunch of us crowded into the living room, where there was a keyboard, a mandolin, and four or five guitars. In the middle of the room was an empty one-armed rocking chair, and someone indicated that I sit there. The bluesmen started playing: The Swedish guitarist Robert Lighthouse; trumpeter and keyboardist Joe Brotherton; a man named Wayne on the washboard; and my friend Brian playing the bass line on the guitar and later the mandolin.

Man was it good. There is nothing like a jam session in a hot, humid night to set you straight.

The best part was the trumpeter tossed me a shaker egg to play along. Do you know how long I’ve wanting to play with a band? It’s a dream of mine. And to sit with those storied blues musicians, shaking that shaker egg and rocking back and forth in that one-armed rocking chair … That was incredible, surreal. Sometimes you wonder if the heat makes you a bit delusional.

Later, when we walked out, it was misting and it started to drizzle. Brian had borrowed the mandolin and began to make up a song.

We walked along the sidewalk, a little bit giddy. On nights like these you feel a bit like children, partly because it’s raining and what person in their right mind skips in the rain without an umbrella, and partly because of the night itself, because at 1:00 in the morning you’re so filled with wonder and just … love … for this world, this life, the things you do and the things you discover, that you feel like you’re coming into your own again.

We waited for the bus at the top of the hill. In the bus shelter, we sang one of my favorite songs, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” You can hear me almost laughing. So much happiness packed into a single night.