There’s a dance bar in Akron I’ve been to a few times with friends during epic nights out on the town. It has a second floor with railings that looks down over the dancing college students below. Up there you’re a VIP, free to dance among the superior people who are so close to the music they can touch it with sweaty limbs. In other words, this is where the DJ spins his sweet ass shit and the girls go crazy.
After a few drinks, I’ve been known to map out this bar in my brain the same way a team of specialists might map out a bank in a heist movie. There are two ways up to the top floor, but they are both heavily guarded by bouncers. Last week, when my friends and I were in town, there were two of them. One was in his thirties and probably on steroids. He looked like he could rip my arms off and slap me across the face with them. The other was in his early twenties and well groomed with hair that had been sprayed to perfection. He looked like he could say mean things and make me cry. Neither was to be screwed with.
By the time we arrived, we had already visited three other bars and it was getting late. The club was in full swing. It was like that party scene in the Matrix: Reloaded with seven times the amount of hipsters. One flexible, redhead girl was bending over backwards so far you could have had a conversation with her upside down face while her body continued to attack every guy it could. I was afraid she’d never be able to shape shift back into human form.
Everyone in my party took to the floor except for me. Since entering the building, my eyes were fixed upwards. I sat at the bar gazing at the second floor with childlike wonder. There were pretty girls dancing everywhere like angels, floating above the pathetic mortals who were grinding away on the floor below. It was the Paradiso to my Inferno. The In-N-Out to my Burger King. And with just the right amount of alcohol, I had all the confidence in the world that I could make this dream a reality.
“I have to get up there.” I announced.
“Go for it.” Said the question-mark-shaped redhead as her midriff ordered another drink.
I approached the steroid bouncer with the confidence I had drank fifteen minutes before.
“I’d like to dance upstairs please.” I announced.
“Girls only.” He grunted.
“I don’t think you heard me right, good sir.” I explained. “I’m just here to dance.”
The bouncer glared at me with eyeballs of steel and I inched back a few steps before he tried to eat my face (which I assumed was his signature move). I walked back to the bar, defeated, and ordered up another dirty martini in hopes that the olives would be able to compensate for the balls I just lost.
The redheaded giraffe woman was now sharing a Spider-Man kiss with a stranger, so I was on my own. I was even more determined to climb my way up to the next floor because somebody had told me I couldn’t.
Before I could order another drink, an opportunity presented itself. One of the friends I came with (we’ll call her Jess) was flirting with the well-groomed bouncer on the other side of the room. She was doing a great job because it left his staircase completely open for an Eric strike.
I casually walked over by the flirtatious distraction and positioned myself to lunge past the guard like a tipsy ninja. His back was turned to me so I winked at Jess and pointed towards the stairwell doorway. She seemed confused for a couple reasons.
1. Because she had no idea that my goal of the night was to dance on the top floor of the bar.
2. Because I was actually winking and pointing towards the men’s room which was located inconveniently next to the only path to completing my goal.
With a mad dash, I ran into what I thought was the stairwell, only to find that I was surrounded by drunk, urinating men who didn’t seem happy that I had burst into their private quarters yelling, “huzaah!!”. When I realized my mistake, I left the bathroom and was still able to sneak up the stairs while Jess and the bouncer were deep in flirt.
The second floor was just about as amazing as I had imagined. I was the only man other than the DJ hanging out within a sea of beautiful ladies, but they were of no interest to me. The only thing I was taking home that night was my pride.
As I walked in slow motion across the second floor, I thought of boundaries I had broken. There was once a sexist ceiling that prohibited men from rising to the top. It was a ceiling that kept me confined to the bottom. It was a ceiling I broke for underprivileged men everywhere.
Or maybe it was the other way around. Perhaps women were only allowed upstairs because of what they looked like on the outside. They were sent to dance, suspended high above the crowd as some sort of living bar decoration used to drag more men into the doors of the establishment so that they may window shop for a mate as though they were buying a fancy car from a display room.
As my chubby, hairy body danced above everyone, I could see the look of horror on the faces of the young men and women who were trying hard not to spit up their beverages.
I thought about walking down the stairs at the end of the night and staring the steroid bouncer in the face. He’d bow his head and get down on one knee.
“Oh brave young man.” He’d exclaim. “DJs will play songs of the day you broke down the walls of sex and class in this bar through your dance moves.”
In reality everyone was too drunk to notice my achievement.
“I just danced up there.” I bragged to the steroid bouncer when I came back down.
“Don’t ever do that again.” He demanded.
But by that point I had already forgotten what we were talking about. There was a glow stick juggler on the other side of the room claiming he was the best in the bar and I had something else to prove.