Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dancing in the Dark

This past Monday, I spent some quality time with my visiting teacher, who we'll call Q, for reasons that will remain obscure. Now, Q is not your typical nice little Mormon girl: she's a vegan, she sews her own very unique clothes, she laughs at my jokes about the Folsom Street Fair, and every Monday night, after FHE, she goes dancing at a goth/industrial club in San Francisco--a fact she mentioned over the pulpit in sacrament meeting. Plus, she didn't bat an eyelash when I said I wanted to come with her. In case you couldn't guess from all the above, I think she is the coolest. visiting teacher. ever.

While getting ready, I rifled through my closet, looking for black, and finally had to admit to myself that nothing in my grad-student wardrobe of button-up shirts, cardigans, jeans, and sneakers could even approximate a goth/industrial look. Besides, even if I could magically produce a corset or fishnets, what are the chances that a blue-eyed blonde who doesn't own black eyeliner, or indeed any makeup at all, could avoid looking like a total fool wearing them? Yeah. I thought so. So I went in the jeans, pink shirt, and white lacy undershirt I had been wearing to school that day. Yes, I wore pink to a place called Death Guild. I'm like that.

We showed up at the club a little too early to be cool--who starts dancing at 10 pm? Puh-leeze!--but that gave me plenty of time to explore the club, raid the pretzels at the bar, and get hit on by an 18-year-old. I may be a bitter, dried-up old maid in the Mormon world, but the San Francisco goth scene, apparently, I've still got least, to college freshmen. I'm crediting the fact that I was the only person in the club wearing a color.

I was, to be honest, slightly apprehensive about the dancing part. I have a tiny confession to those who have ever seen me dance: I wasn't joking. I typically put on a goofy grin and pretend I'm being ironic, but my dancing style really is that combination of weird white-girl Bollywood and Elaine Benes--yes, with the thumbs. So, understandably, though I love to dance, I don't usually do so in public, unless it's really dark.

I was, therefore, surprised and pleased to realize that, at this goth club, I needn't worry about my basic inability to follow a rhythm, even with the lights on: no one else could either. Looking around the room, seeing from the man in tights jumping from side to side, to the overweight woman swaying to no discernible tune, to the girl in a corset and bustle kicking up her heels, to the shirtless man humping a wall (I didn't want the mental image either, trust me), I quickly lost all traces of self-consciousness about my dancing.

I had nowhere near the stamina of even the corseted girls, though, embarrassingly enough, and by around 1 AM, I was feeling that, since the Spirit had clearly gone to bed, I should too. (Knowing that my grandma sometimes reads this blog, I won't elaborate on that whole Spirit thing, but let's just say that around midnight, Q leaned over to me and whispered, in heavily accented tones, "De-bau-che-ry!") Q still had the energy to dance, and so, reluctant to drag her away from her favorite hobby, I simply wandered upstairs, found a couch, and fell asleep, with Nine Inch Nails blaring. When security woke me up half an hour later--"No sleeping here, missy! Move along!"--I was groggy and confused, and so simply moved to a different couch and fell asleep again, sitting up this time. I'm pretty sure the security guard, after waking me again, didn't believe my protests that "it's just way past my bedtime!" He was quite obviously relieved to see that Q would be driving me home.

On that drive home, I told Q that if she gave me a spiritual thought, we could count this for visiting teaching in October. She thought for a minute, and then said, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Amen, Q. A lot about that club, and that lifestyle, leaves a nasty taste in my mouth, but what I really want to take away is this: I have never felt so free and unjudged on a dance floor, or indeed anywhere, in my life. I clearly and obviously didn't fit in, and yet nobody, the whole night, looked askance at my pink shirt, or my obviously un-goth appearance, or my dry-heave-set-to-music dancing. I can't express how fun and free that feeling was--a little slice of heaven, in a highly unexpected place. Thanks, Q. Let's go again sometime.


lanada said...

currently experiencing twinges of jealousy. no way will i ever get a visiting teacher that cool.

Misaneroth said...

My high school had (and still has) a small but noticeable goth population. One year for "Spirit Week", the organizers decided to have a "dress in black" day to coerce the goths into participating in the activities they otherwise shunned and derided. Black day came around, most of the school looked like a funeral, and all the goths were wearing pink instead.

Th. said...


I'm glad to know that about goths. I've wanted to believe it about them, but I'm nothing like the anthropologist you are.

Guber said...

Yeah, I haven't told Grandma that I maintain (that word used in the loosest sense, of course) a blog. Gutsy move, Hannah.

Anonymous said...

sounds like a really interesting way to spend an evening!! good for you.

carina said...


I ran across your page by complete accident... I had to leave a comment on your blog! I'm in the SF Singles ward and used to go to Death Guild and House of Usher from 1992-1997...If I know your visiting teacher I can lend her some stripey tights and eyeliner..Please e-mail me through my Myspace page. Would love to connect.