Dance the Night Away

July 1978

You had to see their place to believe it. The urban mansion on Clinton Avenue was a combination of two neighboring four-story brownstones. Local legend has it that they were required to hire a team of architects to guarantee the structural integrity of the building when they were knocking down weight-bearing walls to create the large dancing area on the parlor floor. The ceiling rose twenty feet above the surface, as a narrow mezzanine rimmed the cavernous space where the second floor used to be. Speakers originally designed for Studio 54 were strategically placed to create a total body surround sound effect. At full blast, the throbbing beat got your molecules moving even if all you were doing was standing around sipping on the drink you’d just picked up at the open bar. Conversation on the dance floor was out of the question, unless you could shout like a carnival barker with a six-foot megaphone.

Maxine and Kiyoshi had built the perfect shrine to the disco era. Their parties were legendary. The embossed invitations typically called for a 9:00 pm start time, but the festivities didn’t really get going until after midnight. The last of the boogie crew were typically hitting the streets at 11:00 the following morning. The term “heavy sweater” was coined for such a place. Continue reading “Dance the Night Away”

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Subway Noir

I walked left off lower Broadway onto Stone Street. The sign on the window said MTA Customer Service Center. The room looked like my old public school gym, without the basketball hoops. Four telephone company tables, each surrounded by clunky metal chairs. Arranged far enough away from the Plexiglass windows to allow for people to get on line.

There was no one on line. There were a few old folks hangin’ out at the tables. Some of ‘em were looking at their smartphones. Others were rummaging through plastic bags. One was reading a hardcover book.

The guy at the Information Table said to me, “You look like you’re here for the first time.”

I said, “Isn’t everybody? Senior MetroCards are for life, no?”

“The Cards are for life, but some people don’t use computers.”

I contemplated this incomplete haiku as I stepped to Window 1 and handed in my paperwork. Continue reading “Subway Noir”