“Do you have a boyfriend?” asked a man clad in baby blue overalls and a striped sweater.
“Yes I do,” was my reply, shouted over a pulsating dance beat.
“And where is he tonight?” he tilted his head back to get a better look at me from under the brim of his cockeyed golf cap.
“Home.” I pushed a sweaty lock of hair behind my ear, shifted my weight from one aching foot to the other. The shoes I chose for the evening were not designed for four hours of dancing, and I was starting to feel it.
“Smart guy,” he laughed, “letting you come here alone.” And he wasn’t being facetious. Two men danced by, their faces barely an inch away from each other. “He’s a lucky guy. You don’t look Spanish, but I’d be willing to bet you have Spanish blood in you. You can move, girl.” He looked me up and down, nodded in approval, and off he went.
“Did you just get hit on in a gay club? By a boy?” Derek’s boyfriend, Vidal, slid up beside me.
“I don’t know,” I giggled. “I don’t think so. I think I was just being complimented.” I took a gulp of my third (or fourth?) Vodka and cranberry for the evening and headed back out onto the dance floor.
Because the floor was so crowded and the patrons of Rainbow Mountain were all either covered in sweat or entirely shirtless, I knew that last call was only a few minutes away and that closing time wasn’t far behind. Determined to pack as much dancing as possible into the evening, Derek and Vidal and I moved and shook and writhed and spun our way around our section of the dance floor until the beat slowed and finally stopped altogether. The throbbing strobe light gave way to the harsh and steady glow of fluorescent lighting, and the night was over.
Climbing into the back of Derek’s truck at the end of the night, pleasantly exhausted, I smiled.
“I forgot how much fun I have with you guys,” I announced, buckling the seat belt and wrapping myself in the jacket I brought along. It was true. I had forgotten. I went out with them almost every Saturday night when I was with Tom. It was always fun, but it was also an outlet, and a place to be appreciated. Although I was almost never hit on, I was told “Honey, you are fabulous” more times than I could count. And having heard that so infrequently in my relationship, it was a welcome change. I continued to go out to Rainbow Mountain for a period of time after Tom and I broke up. “You’re never going to meet a guy going to a gay club,” my friends would tell me after I filled them in on the extraordinary night I’d had. But they didn’t get it: It wasn’t about meeting men. It was about enjoying myself and the men I went with. About not worrying about meeting men, not having to worry that my outfit said “Sultry” instead of “Slutty,” not having to figure out how to say that I’m into relationships, not one night stands. But it was about watching Derek and Vidal dance together, how happy they looked under the blacklight, in a world of their own on a packed floor. Going out to Rainbow, for me, was about dancing like no one’s watching: Because, when you got down to it, no one was. Nobody there cares about me, and it’s liberating. Dancing, surrounded by mirrors, the only person I ever had to worry about impressing was me. And it always felt luscious.
Saturday night was no different. My hips carried the heavy beat all night. I pranced between Derek and Vidal in a very Dirty Dancing moment, where one of them was in front of me, and one was behind, while they called out steps. “Hungry Eyes” may as well have been playing over the speakers. Had I ever thought to check out my face in the mirror, I’m sure that I would’ve seen mascara dripping beneath my eyes, visible sweat marks in my foundation. But it felt so good.
“No shit,” Derek said over the whirr of his truck’s starting engine. “We’ve missed you, too.”
Driving along Route 209 toward home, I kept fading in and out of sleep. In the front seats, Derek and Vidal talked about the night as my eyes closed stubbornly against the cold air coming in through the open window.
“Did you have fun tonight?” Vidal asked, turning his body around in his seat to face me.
I lifted my head from its reclined position. “You have no idea what a great time I had. I danced until my thighs hurt, and I laughed all night. That, to me, is a perfect night.”
“Yeah,” Derek added, “I noticed you laughing an awful lot…”
I giggled, rested my head against the soft leather interior. “This is what I’m like when I’m happy.”