WHY did no one tell me that this place existed?!?!?!?! I went out Friday night to a place of wonder and amazement! … And rib sandwiches. I have discovered the American Legion! Yo, I’m ‘bout to be up in here e-ver-y weekend! E-ver-y weekend? E-ver-y weekend! (Okay, that’s an exaggeration but I love Katt Williams.)
So, my girl Nichole comes to town, and we decide to go out Friday night. She tells me that she has SO much fun at this place, and that it’s full of old people, but it is just a great place to go chill and have a good time. Okay, I’ll try anything once, so I’m all in. We get in the car and start to drive. Nichole is telling me about how much fun we are going to have, and how she has this favorite song that she hopes they play. She is almost sure they will play it, because it is a club favorite. She starts to sing some nonsense about “I’ve got my money…and I’ve got my whiskey!” I just look at her with a blank stare. As we approach the area where this ‘place’ is, I notice that there is smoke in the area. Why is there smoke….? We park on the street in front of a funeral home (hey, I know these people! This is the Black folks’ funeral home!) and get out of the car to cross over to The American Legion. As soon as I exit the car, I figure out what the smoke is about – there are three different entrepreneurs with barbeque shops open in front of the American Legion. Wow, seriously? There’s enough of a market for ribs and sausage sandwiches that all three of y’all can make money? Wow.
….Them ribs sho’ nuff smell good, though…
So we get into the club, and they ask for ID. It’s a 30 and up club, you see. No children. After they ID us we pay the cover: $5. Five. Damn. Dollars! WHY did no one tell me that this place existed?!?!! We walk past the little old man at the door and enter the club proper. There are several elements of this place that remind me of all the other clubs I used to go to: chairs, tables, bar, kitchen…. But this place has card tables, and folding chairs, and there are decorations from Party City hanging from the ceiling. There are Christmas lights over the bar. The kitchen is serving fish, wings and gizzards. Gizzards. With fries. And the bar – Oh, the bar!!! My girl goes up to the bar to get a drink – Grey Goose and cranberry for her, tonic for me. She comes back with two highball glasses of damn near clear liquid. I ask her if she has any cranberry juice in the glass at all. She says that she asked the bartender lady for more cranberry, and her response was “hell no!” with a laugh. My drink is totally clear – hers is tinged with pink. I ask how much for the drinks. She says $7.00. I offer her the $7 and she says “No, $7 for both”. Two drinks. Seven. Damn. Dollars. WHY did no one tell me this place existed?!?!
And now, for the real entertainment. The people! I LOVE the people! Let me describe some of the characters we see here:
Military Man: this is the dude that is walking around in a bomber jacket and slacks, with an army cap on his tiny grey afro that has every medal he ever won – in all 3 wars – on it. He still has the stance of a career army man, and he is somewhere between 60 and 80 years old. There were 3 guys in here like this.
Scat Cat: this is the fake jazz musician guy with the black slacks and super ‘smedium’ shirt on, along with a black fedora and some dark shades. You know good and dayum well he can’t see a thing in this dark-assed club with those shades on. Attention all other men who do this – you are not cool.
Faded Flower: this is the woman who is wearing her favorite outfit from 1979. She used to be the queen of the disco, and dammit, she’s still got it! Her pants are so tight that no gynecologist would approve, and her heels are impossibly high. Imagine Beyonce’, with a pooch stomach and a bad wig. Her top is low cut and backless, simultaneously emphasizing her “orange-in-the-bottom-of-a-sock” boobs and her back fat. All of her dances include a bent-knee pelvic thrust.
Your Auntie: this is the woman that has buried two husbands and now really just don’t give a damn what you got to say about her and ‘her ways’. She is loud, she is wearing blue eye shadow and an outfit with no blue in it, and she has on flip flop wedges and Capri pants. She is dressed for comfort – fashion be damned. And she lives on the dance floor. When her song comes on, you can hear her shouting “Heeeyyyyy!!!” holding up her drink in one hand, with her head bowed.
Silver Fox: this woman really DOES still have it, and she knows it. She walked in and two dudes tried to buy her a drink. She knows all the dance steps to all the shuffles that are being done on the dance floor. She is wearing an age-appropriate but sexy outfit. Hair – done. Toes – done. Makeup – flawless. If I am still single at 50, I am TOTALLY going to be this woman.
Reverend Brother Pastor Deacon Doctor Doug: this dude is in the club with his BEST shiny suit on. There were several iterations of this cat rolling around on the dance floor. They all had on some color that does not occur in nature, with shoes to match. Not a natural fiber in the bunch. And hats! With matching bands or feathers! I love it!!!
The Pimp: Dressed exactly like Reverend Brother Pastor, but his hat has fur on it, with a feather, cocked to the side.
Slick Willy: Remember that dude on “Good Times” that used to have watches and belts and stuff inside his coat? Yeah, he was there too. I didn’t get to see inside the coat, but I KNOW he had something in it.
All of these characters are out on the dance floor – and that was the next wonder of the night. Everybody is dancing! There are no guys holding up the walls. Well, let me take that back. There were plenty of guys in their late 30’s and early 40’s that were standing on the wall. They were wearing jeans and t-shirts, and sneakers, and getting totally outclassed by the older gents. These old men were PLAYAS! They’d step up to a woman (emphasis on the STEP UP) and ask her to dance. Then they’d grab her hand and lead her to the floor, and commence to doing whatever their personal favorite step was.
Here’s an astute observation about people in the clubs. They all will wear the clothes, hairstyle and makeup of the era in which they felt the most attractive. And they will do the dances from that era as well. You can almost tell how old they are by what they are wearing. Army dude – 75. Scat Cat – 60. Faded Flower – 59. Silver Fox – timeless (I SO wanna be her one day)!
Now back to the dancing: The reason that my friend even found out about this place is that the Orlando City Steppers practice their step routines here. So we were able to see some great dancing… as long as a ‘special’ song wasn’t on. And by special song, I mean a song that had a dance to go with it – which was every third song. You want to feel outgunned? Watch a bunch of women twice your age break it down on the dance floor doing that Mary J. Blige line dance that you could never learn. And if you didn’t know the dance, the dance floor was a very dangerous place to be. These folks weren’t playing about their shuffles and line dances. ‘Go hard or stay home’ was the name of the game. We got up for the Cupid Shuffle and then promptly sat our little selves down again. Sidebar – why did they have a smoothed out version of the Cupid Shuffle that I had never heard before? They’re holding out on us!
The music was a revelation in this place. It was that good R&B music that made you want to move in your chair. They did play my girl’s song. In fact, they played it twice. Back to back. Entire song. You know how in the younger clubs, they may play the first 2 minutes of a song and then mix/fade into something else? Not here. Here, they play the entire 12-inch LP version of every song. I had no idea there were that many verses to some of these songs! LOL! I was sitting there, just enjoying the crowd, when I heard my JAM: “Bounce! Rooooock. Skate! Rollllll. Bounce!” I perked up with a quick “Awwww shyt!” and started jookin’ in my chair. NOW the party is getting started! They followed this up with “Let the Music Play”, “Before I Let Go” and “Treat Her Like a Laaay-daaaayyyy…Ayyy-ayy-ayy-ayy-ayy!” And then they broke out the Michael Jackson: “Wanna be Starting Something”. My girl and I were singing Nephew Tommy’s version of the lyrics: “I’mma say it on the side of Michael’s house!” … And there is another lyric in this song for which I really want to know the correct words. It’s this one – see if you can figure it out:
“You’re a vegetable (you’re a vegetable). You’re a vegetable (you’re a vegetable). And they hate youuuu. You’re a vegetable. You’re on the buffet (you’re on the buffet). You’re a vegetable (you’re a vegetable). They eat off of youuuu. You’re a vegetable. Ow!!”
You know what else I loved about this place? If you wanted to have a birthday party here, apparently all you had to do was show up before everyone else and put your cake on your table. Awesome.
So we leave the club, exhausted from laughing, and that smoke is still outside. Dang…them ribs sho’ nuff smell good. So we roll over to the closest bbq spot and I order a sausage sandwich. Yo – I got a foot-long smoked sausage sandwich for $5. Five. Damn. Dollars! WHY did no one tell me about this place?!?! The next time I am jonezing for some barbecue (and I can’t get to my dad’s food quick enough) I am rolling out to the American Legion. Get me a rib sammich.
Rant Volume 21 done, and I’m out.