The Glorious Groove in Lake Pleasant–and No Jacket Required

One of the nice things about a new relationship are the pockets of community you discover yourself a part of when your partner invites you to one of ‘her’ parties. She’s a dancer and a drummer and a contradancer–a spirit-filled woman. That leads to all sorts of interesting new things, I’ve happily found out.

Last night she took me to a party with many of her favorite people who are drummers and dancers. The party was in Lake Pleasant, down a series of short narrow streets. We could hear the music of the drums coming from outside as we arrived. I had on a jacket–my usual attire for a party of any kind–and she sneered. “Nobody wears jackets at these parties!” she said. “You’ll be the only one, and you shouldn’t wear it. I’m trying to get everyone to like you and that’s just the wrong thing to wear!”

With this I was even more determined to wear my jacket. I always think of a man in a jacket as a man in charge, a man who looks sharp. But she disagreed. So I bet her $1 that at least one other man among those dancers and drummers would have on a jacket too. We entered the party to the sounds of the beat…conga drums, about three feet long played by hands, and other drums played with sticks, pounded out the beat. There was plenty to eat and drink, and we brought a cake…and nobody had on a jacket, so i was glad that I had taken mine off in the mud room. One man shared very, very old rum, which went down so smoothly it was scary.

It was sublime music, the drums keeping the beat and on some tunes, recorded salsa music playing in the background giving the drums an accompanying backdrop. Dancing was sometimes in a circle with a man or woman taking all the eyes as they kicked back and rollicked. Then it would ease into a drumming groove, and people would reach that place…that you can only reach when you dive headlong into the beat.

Dancing like this is nothing like the dancing you do to regular music. It gets in deeper, it goes further in, and the groove is stronger, more hypnotic, more intense. The sound of those drums, and the myriad of percussion being beaten out of shakers, all culminate into a satisfying, passionate groove.

It was the right time, and the right place…and I didn’t need a jacket to feel alright.