The one who is like unto a Gnome once again delights and astounds with her ability to post consistently and compellingly. Her latest is a series on the Best _____ of 2009. Looking over the list of prompts, there are more'n a few which don't really apply ("best restaurant moment" comes to mind), but today's I can do. Today's is "2009: Best Night Out", and for me that night is without hesitation the Halloween Burlesque Show.
I was not, I must admit, very enthusiastic about the event to begin with. Though I have in the past tried to enjoy nightlife, it just turns out not to be my scene. I try to be a good sport, of course, but with no particular prediliction for dance and a high level of social anxiety in the company of strangers, the experience amounts to awkwardness and expensive drinks. So when it came to be that my Halloween plans were usurped by this "Burlesque Show", it was a little disappointing; I had hoped for no more than the company of good friends, a pumpkin, booze, and candy. Instead: loud music, strangers, downtown.
A week or two later it's Halloween and having enjoyed the Strange Adventures (local comic book store) party the day before my spirits are somewhat lifted. My costume (scientist) is more than a little lame, but at this point I have financial resources totalling fewer than zero dollars and a labcoat, so what else am I to do. At some point I make the best decision I could possibly have made and elect to bring my digital SLR to the party.
There's a series of minor miscommunications and we're off to more than a bit of a late start. There isn't a lineup when we arrive, so we needn't have worried. A friend of a friend has brought a cigar as part of his costume (early-to-mid 20th century gangster). I have a puff or two, feel a little guilty and reaffirm my commitment never to take up cigarettes. We watch the passers by for neat costumes, lo and behold there's a woman in the princess Leia slave bikini. The same homeless dude canvasses the queue four or five times for change. I don't have any and feel bad at least the first two.
The doors open at last, and we are admitted to the Seahorse Tavern. There are seahorse figures carved into some of the posts with their eyes lit up red. It's an appropriate effect for the occasion, but I hope that doesn't stop them from doing it all the time. We find good seats. We buy an underwhelming amount of unspectacular beer, and it costs too much. I'll need steady hands and a good eye for the camera, so that is probably for the best.
The Burlesque troupe is largely staffed (run?) by Kings' ladies, so there are a great many familiar faces in the crowd. None of them do I really know personally, but through another friend who has accompanied us here. We hit the floor to say hello, which turns out to be another fantastic decision down the line. The first band begins to play, although there is as yet no sign of any dancers. I start looking for interesting photos in the crowd, but I take far fewer than perhaps I ought.
By and by the dancing starts, and I begin the aggravating process of calibrating my camera settings such that I get usable pictures in the dark without a tripod or too much flash. I miss a lot of really interesting action, as well as some very pretty faces. That doesn't really change as the night goes on. I'm by no means the only one taking pictures, and there are in fact a few others in the crowd with DSLRs. One is a pretty, blonde cowgirl with what looks to be a recent model Sony. She takes a fall and I get a picture as she's standing up. I don't notice until much later when I'm reviewing the album on my computer that she's very likely looking at me.
I end up in all kinds of places around the stage, some much better than others. I'm standing close to where the rest of the group has been sitting (I think I may have gone over to talk to someone, but I can't remember) when a hand taps me on the shoulder, and voices from behind request that I take a picture of the couple in front of me. I am not quite sure what to make of this request: even if I do this thing for them, will they ever see it? Regardless, the opportunity presents itself perhaps minutes later and I successfully capture a moment of true happiness, or something that looks very much like it. The light catches the girl's face and she is glowing twice over. I don't hold out much hope of finding the people who asked for this picture, but in my wildest imaginings I allow myself to think that through some chain of friends and acquaintances (the magic of facebook) these people might come to see what I have captured.
Later I end up at the very front edge of the stage, across from the Sony-wielding cowgirl. There's a break in the show and I take some pictures of her. She may have done the same, but I can't say for certain. I do recall I saw her smile, once. I'm uncertain as to the content of this exchange. I still am, I think. It felt exciting at the time, and while I can hear the chorus of voices telling me that it's no more than the shutterbug equivalent of batting eyelashes, it feels like a big step in the right direction. It feels like a step that I'm making with confidence. Tonight, I'm not the art-school dropout slowly wasting away in technical college; I'm Loud the photographer, Loud the artist, Loud the maybe-handsome-enough-to-warrant-a-second-glance? It's a feeling I haven't felt for a long time before, and won't feel for some while hence.
Some crucial shots (most notably those of the friend whom we were attending the whole event for) don't turn out right because I'm not fast enough with the dials or the button. There are certainly enough that I'm happy with, though, and I figure that anything I didn't get *someone* else must have! I'm one of the last of our party to leave: the rest have work or have to be up the next day and have been trickling out accordingly. As I leave, I scan the crowd for the cowgirl in pink, but to no avail. I have pictures, but she is one of very few individuals not tagged on facebook when I upload them.
On the walk home, I consider burlesque art: I have seen people that I actually know in intentionally, publicly sexy displays. Do I feel different because I know them? There's no hypocritical sense of revulsion (thank goodness).
The day after I post the (good) pictures on facebook I get a message from the woman in the couple whose picture I told you about four paragraphs ago. I hadn't honestly imagined that she would see it, so I can't shut up about how awesome the world can be for the next couple of days. People get tired of hearing about it. Five or six of the pictures I took are used as profile pictures on facebook. My ego swells a little, but inevitably most of them are supplanted by others. So it goes.
This was unquestionably the best night out of 2009 for me, and though one might imagine that's because I don't go out often or at all, I think that if I try to imagine the ideal night out, it looks very similar.