Nod-Head Bouncy-Dancing

Friday night I went to see Fat Freddy’s Drop, and then, sort of by accident, Katchafire, both of which are NZ dub bands. I didn’t even know what dub was until I got here, but over the summer I randomly saw Ladi 6 and liked her a lot.
When a bunch of friends invited me to see Fat Freddy’s playing a hometown show, even though I don’t really understand reggae and I didn’t totally understand ska back in the 90s and I still don’t really understand dub, I went along. My friend Danica has seen my dance action a couple of times and warned me to wear flat shoes (hi, has she met me?) because, and I quote: “It’s not so much jerky dancing like you do at the club, but more nodding-head bouncy-dancing.”

“Don’t worry,” I emailed back. “I can do jerky or I can do bouncy. I swing both ways.

There were a ton of people there when we finally made it to the venue and I wondered if we were going to be able to see anything, but fortunately I was with women who had no compunction whatsoever about elbowing their way past the ravening hordes and depositing themselves right in the front row. When the band finally came out…ooh, girl, each one of those boys was hotter than the last. I was all over the lead singer Dallas with gorgeous face and very soulful voice but then I looked over at the unstoppably awesome trumpet player who was all wearing an old-man suit with a cap and vest and 70s tie, and then the trombonist (I love trombonists) was full on wearing a golf outfit that involved bright yellow pants—so in terms of eye candy your friend Chiara was a very happy little octopus indeed. Two guys and a girl were making out right next to me before the music even started and everyone was talking and laughing and in a great mood.

The music was cool too, and very good for nod-head bouncy-dancing, which I commenced as soon as the first ten-minute song started and did not stop until they ended their second encore. Crazy fuzzy hair, red singlet top and worn out tennies, just dancing dancing dancing. It was too crowded to really break out the proto-bellydance moves so I contented myself with some low key chest drops and modified double mayas and did what everyone else was doing: nod nod nod bounce bounce bounce as the lights washed around the room and Dallas sang gently to us in his sweet soft voice.

Two encores later this little delicate flower was ready to go home but Danica and Shirely were all “Get in the cab! Get in the cab!” and so I got in the cab and we trucked over to Cuba Street to see the tail end of the Katchafire show, which was at the oddly-named San Francisco Bath House. It’s oddly named not because San Francisco Bath House is a weird name to give a bar–it’s a fine name to give a bar–but because San Francisco Bath House is not, in fact, a gay bar. Despite its floral paisley sign outside. I explained this to Rob when he and Anna were here and every time we passed that sign I think it blew his mind a little more. Paisley. San Francisco. Bath House.

“Are you sure?” he’d say.

“Well, I did go to the lesbian rock fest there in November, but yeah, I’m pretty sure.”

“Do they…just not KNOW?”

“Oh, they know. And I’m sure gay folks totally go there to see shows or whatever. But it’s not…well, the name’s a bit misleading, I grant you.”

“It’s messing up my gaydar.”

“You’re just going to have to take my word for it.”

There were another ton of people at this bar and there was nothing for it but to elbow up to the front row again and to continue nod-head bouncy-dancing. Katchafire did like five Bob Marley covers just for fun (Bob Marley is HUGE here; it’s like being in college all over again, although mercifully without the midnight drum circles outside my dorm room every night) and everyone, everyone, knew all the words and was swaying around with their hands in the air singing and having the best time. I was so simply happy to be out with people I like in my red singlet top, dancing with Danica, dancing with Shirley, knowing all the words. Everything is going to be all right, yeah, everything is going to be all right.

After the show was over I hung out at the bar for a little while longer and some very flattering and ego-boosting silliness ensued involving a Boy Of Inappropriate Age (as Mo might say) suggestively dancing with me and possibly kind of feeling me up and a whole passel of other inappropriately-aged boys breakdancing in front of me as if I were their fuzzy-headed queen and they were my adoring subjects seeking only to please me with their rhythmical popping and locking. At one point they all started wrestling homoerotically (San Francisco. Bath House.) but I tore myself away and caught the last night bus home, texting to my friends how awesome they are and how great going out with them is, thinking about how I love music and dancing and flirting and fun. I’ve spent the rest of the weekend getting ready for a hafla in a couple of weeks and starting my first coin bra and eating sushi and going to the movies and going to lunch, thoroughly enjoying myself and getting a little sleepy in the process. South Island in two weeks, Australia in a month, and then it will have been a year since I came away.

What a good time I had. What a good life I have. You see why I have to stay?


  1. SOundslike so much fun!! I need you to stay so I can live vicariously through your stories!!

  2. I’m so glad you’re having a good time. But we miss you. You would have enjoyed my birthday party tremendously. Lots of loud, inappropriate-for-dinner-but-hilarious-anyway conversation and yummy food. I am dying to go dancing. We are making tentative plans to go to Taiwan to teach some workshops (yeah, Baby!) at some undefined point in the future and are talking about how we need to manage a side trip to New Zealand.

  3. what an awesomely fun weekend! btw, a friend just sent me the sweetest little mirror with an octopus on it, and i thought of you, of course. because you, too, are a sweet little octopus.

  4. sounds awesome! I saw this today and was like…who do I know that likes octopi? And then I realized, I don’t really know in real life anyone.

  5. > Bob Marley is HUGE here

    He is, he is. Have you noticed that a lot of people refer to him as “uncle Bob”?