at the Spare Room ... it's Larry and Teri
an antique trade
combination of ennui and un-pleasure brings us back to the Spare
Room for a second straight
Teri: ranging wildly over the map to provide a service and ply
an antique trade. [photo by Anthony Mills]
Actually, it's quite a nice place and 20 years down
the track we might find ourselves here most evenings.
Our friend, however, remarks that he could never imagine
anyone in his family going to this or any bar just
to hang out and have "fun." Dad did just that. A lot.
Hell, he even owned one. So here we are, having fun and also wanting
to see if Larry and Teri are as hot as people say.
But first, curse you, Barfly magazine! Once again
we discover, interspersed among the witty bar reviews and invaluable
happy-hour prices, dollops of music schedules that aren't always
Barfly is the amusing CD-booklet-sized monthly guide to Portland
bars. But for a second straight month, errant listings have set
us up for disappointment. So please, Barfly, even if it's at the
behest of particular clubs (and it sure ain't at the behest of the
Spare Room, because no one ever seems to know or much care what's
going on even just hours in advance of any evening's festivities)
do not list a musical calendar. Because things often do change.
To wit, Larry and Teri (not Terry) is not a keyboard duo, much
to the dismay of my wife, who had fantasies of a pair of aging old
queens at dueling pianos ála Billy Joel and Elton
John going at each other with verbal barbs between bad renditions
of Stevie Wonder tunes. Instead, Larry plays guitar and Teri, the
keyboardist, is all woman.
However, the septuagenarian couples practicing arcane arts on the
dance floor seem to know exactly what's going on and, just like
that (thank you Carrie Bradshaw), for one sublime moment I'm reminded
of what life used to be about.
back at the Spare Room: for a second straight month.
That would be dancing a dying art in our culture (despite
the brief swing-dance blip of '97) and one that shouldn't be mourned.
It should be revived, even made mandatory. While Larry and Teri
range wildly over the map, Brenda Lee butting up against Brian Setzer,
they provide a service, they ply an antique trade.
It hits home during a Conway Twitty waltz ("Lost In The Feeling,"
I think it's called), and I notice the five or six couples on the
dance floor in perfect synchronization. On beat one they all step
right; on beat two they swoop gracefully back, a slow downward arcing
motion that whispers of decades flowering; on beat three it's a
step to the left. Then it's back through the cycle again and again.
Likely they have all danced together on this floor to other waltzes
in weeks past. Their casual confidence is not choreographed, it's
genetic code we youngsters are wiping out.
Dancing teaches respect and self-assuredness; it gets men comfortable
with their bodies, makes them sensitive and gives them social skills
above the louts of today who persist in calling their female counterparts
"dude." It values traits inherent in women that, by and
large, are viewed now with contempt or lasciviousness.
learning how used to be a part of growing up.
Learning how to dance used to be a part of growing up emotionally,
physically, even spiritually if you believe in the transformative
power of music. Now it is ignored by most: a convenient excuse for
not acting like a gentleman.
Larry and Teri's canned beats and restrained musical skills (our
friends especially like their voices) don't hesitate to touch on
the cheese we flat-footed lunks crave: versions of "Stray Cat
Strut" and "I Just Called To Say I Love You" in particular.
But they also provide the backdrop for dance lessons (7 to 8 p.m.,
I believe) on Thursdays and Sundays.
If you have aspirations to resurrect the dignity America once aspired
to import from the Old World, you'll take someone up on those dance
lessons. Maybe not at the Spare Room, but why not?
Maybe then you won't feel like a dope at the next wedding reception;
maybe then the quest for un-pleasure will be replaced with a simpler
calling. Better the Spare Room than no room.