05 August 2006


Barn Dance

I never attended a barn dance. I think they were before my time, but they were a part of the pioneer and rural American experience for several generations, in many if not most parts of the country. I figure that what actually transpired at these get togethers wasn't exactly as they're recorded in the popular histories of books and movies, but I also think we can have a sense of what they were like.

The variables that are likely hard to characterize are the ones that have been suppressed as much as possible. The ones that have to do with smoking and drinking and screwing and various sorts of cavorting and carousing: The activities that those who run small towns and counties don't want to publicize, that those who run the churches that would like to run small towns and counties don't want others to know about, that those who write histories for primary and secondary school children don't want read about, etc.

When we were at the Oyster Ridge Music Festival (see below), I had a sense of "this is what a barn dance was like." Or, "this is what a barn dance is like in 2006 in Kemmerer, Wyoming." Displace time, and you still have the right elements: people, music, performers, liquid lubrication of some form, kids, animals (supposedly against the rules at ORMF, but there were a few critters around). Those elements lead to dancing, laughing, smiling, listening, watching, getting close, furtive glances, winks, nods, hellos, how'd'y'dos, etc. Easier for straight people than for us homos, but there, nonetheless.

All leading to who-knows-what later, when the music stops and the mellow sets in and the pleasure of your other one's company in the context of a joyous evening, sets in.

So did anybody realize y'all were "different"?

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