Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The night I danced on Broadway.

     It's true.  I did.  I had a trip scheduled to NYC about ten years ago, and it happened to coincide with my wife's birthday.  I could take her along, according to company policy, so that's what I did.  I worked the trade show one day and took a vacation day the next so we could tour the city together.  I should mention it was November 2001, and the tourists were still staying away from the city after the attacks of September 11.  I'm not cavalier about terrorist threats, but if you let your fears keep you from doing the things you would normally do, then the terrorists actually accomplish their goal. I refused to let that happen and in fact, this was my second trip back to NYC, the first one just a week after the attack, while the towers were still smoldering, but I digress, this story is about the time I danced on Broadway.

      I had the whole evening planned, we were going to cocktail first, go to an early play, and catch dinner at a great restaurant after.  I chose to see Cabaret, as it was playing in the remodeled space that used to be the infamous Studio 54.  They had it set up as a small bistro with tables that sat four, and we got an aisle table facing the stage only a few rows back. The seats were fantastic.
Studio 54 in it's prime.
We had dressed for our big Theater night out, with Char in an elegant dress, and with me in a black silk shirt and tan pants.  We settled in and I took the seat directly next to the aisle.  The show was great, and we were thoroughly enjoying it, and thinking that it couldn't get much better than this, when suddenly, it did.  It was right after intermission, the show had started back up and the Master of Ceremonies came walking down our aisle, and selected me, to go onto the stage as a dance partner.  Now, I don't consider myself a great dancer, but I don't really shy away from the stage either, so I accepted the offer.  For the next minute or so I danced across the stage with the Master of Ceremonies from Cabaret and I didn't do half bad.  I always end the telling of this story with the fact that the narrator in Cabaret is a purposely asexual character, but is played by a man, so yes I danced on Broadway, but it was with a guy, but oh how those bright lights beckoned.  Knowing that my time on stage was short, I hammed it up a little, and even goosed the actor as we danced.  To say it was a fun experience, is so underrating it, and I highly recommend the experience if you ever get the chance.  The play finished, and we were off to dinner.

     I had chose Gotham Bar and Grill at 12 East 12th Street in Greenwich Village for our fine dining experience.  I'm lucky that Char likes to dine as much as I do so she seemed to appreciate the choice.
Gotham's interior
The Chef Alfred Portale was just hitting his stride with this place, so we got to get in, and have a great meal.  That year he was won a James Beard award personally, and the following year, it won the Outstanding Restaurant award nationally from the same Beard Foundation.  I had timed that one just right, as I can say that I took my wife to the best restaurant, not only in the City, but in the World that night, oh and yes, it was that good.  We had at least a five course meal with creative cocktails, and great wine, and we waddled out of there after a 2 plus hour dinner. The meal was a great follow up to the evening we were having thus far, and I was showing my wife the time of her life.  If only it were to end as well as it had started, but that's not the way our evenings work, I'm bound to step in a little something most times we go out, and this night, memorable as it was, was not going to be any different....

     Do you know the problem with a city that never sleeps?  It gives you too many hours to get into trouble.  We had finished our meal and were walking in the neighborhood, and it seemed too early to head back to our uptown hotel,  so my wife asked what I would normally do on a regular trip to the city.
The exterior of Hogs and Heifers
Now a smarter man, would have said, " I like to wander the neighborhood and get the feel of it" or " I like to sit in the park and people watch" or if I was really thinking " I generally go back to my hotel and call you, cuz that's when I really miss you". But no, I am honest with my wife about my adventures when I travel, so I suggested a walk to a quaint bar I know, called Hogs and Heifers.  It's a nondescript place with a particle board bar and the bartenders there wear halter tops and cowboy boots.  They insult you with bullhorns or squirt you with the soda gun.  It was frequented then by bikers and meat workers and at any time, girls are invited to dance on the bar. 
The famous collection at H& H's. 
The bartenders do a couple of numbers on there regularly, and dance to "The Devil went Down to Georgia" when it is played on the jukebox.  Girls can dance for free, but if you dance more than once, the expectation, by the crowd, is that you will make a donation to the wall behind the bar.  On it are thousands of brassieres from countless unknown and famous women (even Julia Roberts and Drew Barrymore) and every one of them were thrown from atop the bar.  It's your choice how you choose to donate, but trust me, if you try that trick where you pull your bra out of your sleeve, you will be quickly booed off the bar.  It should be noted now, that I normally travel during the week when the bar is tamer, and I've spent several nights at Hogs and Heifers where no-one save the bartenders, danced.  This was not the case that night.  As we entered the bar, there was a women's softball team on the bar, 8 wide, topless and bent over showing their thongs.  I got our beers and turned around to a wife with her arms crossed and a look that told me immediately that we wouldn't even be staying to finish them.  We exited immediately, cabbed it back to the hotel, and spent an icy night together.  Hog's and Heifers is many things, to many people, but apparently it is not foreplay.  My wife, to this day, refers to it as "Pigs and Whores".   I still maintain that if she got to know the bar first she would have come to know it's charm, like I did, but she disagrees.  Sometimes, timing is everything and you don't get a second chance to make a good impression.  Incidentally if some of this bar sounds familiar to you it's probably because you saw the movie "Coyote Ugly" that did a great job of capturing the look, the staff, and the feel of this place, but then named the movie after a competitors bar.  The locals know the story well.

     So that was the night I danced on Broadway, truly memorable from beginning to end.  All of it is true, and true to my nature, Coyote Ugly, as it might be.  If you get to the city, I highly recommend catching a Broadway show, dining at the Gotham Bar and Grill and even finishing up at Hogs and Heifers, but try and pick a slow night. 


Kim Constantino said...

What an amazing evening you had! Great seats at a great show, and that restaurant experience..! How lucky to get in like you did, with the chef cooking at his award winning level but BEFORE he won so you could actually get a table and afford one too. I would love that!
BUT....I would have to say I completely and whole-heartedly agree with Char on the end of your evening. Not a good idea! Glad she forgave you! LOL! Great blog.

cdyarger said...

I went reluctantly to this "establishment" with Bill, with the idea in mind that only a few girls dance on the bar, and most remove their bras under their shirts. Imagine my surprise when there were 8 TOPLESS girls with nothing but thongs on dancing on the bar. And by the way, we could not get near the bar to get drinks for the first ten minutes of our VERY SHORT visit there. Needless to say, I would not recommend the place. However, the evening leading up to this was wonderful, and I do still have fond memories of that! I love you honey!