The Classy Meet-up Dancing Bar

There’s an outdoor dancing venue behind an Italian restaurant in downtown Pleasanton, a city which sits near a major crossroads of two freeways, north/south 680 and east /west 580, a few dozen miles east of San Francisco. The people come from all over on Thursday nights from 6:00 to 10:00 in the summer for live music and dancing — Oakland, the central valley, the peninsula, local towns, everywhere.
It’s a great place for people watching. Where else can you see all ages, genders, races, creeds, and colors? Men in hats and fancy suits or dress jeans and button down shirts, women in everything from jeans with bling to strapless leather dresses and five-inch stilettos? Cougars with their hot young boyfriends, old men with their hot young girlfriends, who can barely stand in their towering heels.
Of course some of us are older and just there to dance. I still have to dress up, but stilettos would make me six foot, two, assuming I could even balance with them on. My age group calls them the death-wish shoe, since we would break our necks if we attempted them. The two inch chunky heels on my sandals will do just fine.
Many of my friends have moved on from the venue, ever since the owner jacked up the cover charge year after year, to the current price of $15 per head. Still, for live music, as in a twelve-piece band, that’s not bad. The wine comes in real stemware, and the floor is cement, so the owner must pay a fortune in replacement glassware. He has big burly football-player-looking bouncers at every door and behind every dainty bartender.
Yes, you will pay for that drink, sir, and leave a tip, too. I am watching you.
The food is okay, but the service gets sketchy after eight. There are so many bodies jammed in the place that the waiter is lucky to even remember you, another blond on the dance floor drinking white wine. Plus the bartenders sometimes bring the drinks to help out the waiters. Once I got into a verbal altercation with a woman over some bottled water. I had just paid for it along with a glass of wine. The bartender brought the wine and water together. The woman grabbed the bottle right off the tray, saying hers had never been delivered. I was parched from dancing. The woman made the mistake of not opening it and taking a drink. She left it on the table to go dance. I stole it back and had half of it gone before she came back to the table, looking like she had been wronged by the devil.
“The waiter is bringing you a bottle,” I said.
I’d sought him out and told him our table was short one water. He eventually brought it.
It gets weird sometimes. Another night a meet-up woman knocked over my white wine with her purse (yes, there are fifty purses piled up on the meet-up table, so don’t set down you drink until it’s at least half gone). She had no intention of doing anything about it, but I was standing right there and said something. This is my least favorite part of the night.
But if you can pee before the band takes a break or wait until after they start back up, and if you can drink your drink as soon as you get it and never leave it behind while you dance, you can maneuver through a night of chaos that is Barone’s.
The meet-up tables with the yellow smiley-face balloons make up our little oasis in a sea of crazy. Familiar faces, men who will dance, people who are happy to see you even though they don’t know your last name, this is my kind of escapism. I get to shake my booty and my cares away for three hours and then go back to my life. I try to leave before the super drunken folk come onto the floor. Once I stayed to the end. A large inebriated woman stepped backward and skewered my foot with her red stiletto.
“Oh, sorry!” she said, giggling.
The bruise on the top of my foot hurt for two weeks.
The bathrooms have a bouncer. He tells you which restroom to use, since there is a men’s side of high-class porta potties and a women’s side. In the porta potties, with huge mirrors, pictures, soap and running water, I meet the most interesting people. Yes, they sometimes look me up and down, trying to guess my age. I give them a big smile and ask them if they are having fun. They decide I am no threat to them and smile back.
How could I be a threat? I am twice as old as the women strutting their stuff and letting it all hang out as they parade around the place. They are here to find a man, go home with him, and get him to pay for the next time when they come back.
I am here to dance with the meet-up people.
That’s my story anyway, and I’m sticking to it.

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