From my stool at the bar, I gazed out
over the heads of the seated audience to the wooden dance floor
across the room.
The atmosphere was festive, yet
elegant, looking much like an upper-class Mardi Gras party
without the masks and costumes. The guests were animated, their
jabber and twaddle rippling up through sounds of the music like
day school children at recess. The men were dressed for the
opera or an aristocratic gathering at the Bowery. The women were
gussied up as if they were anticipating an audience with the
Miss Bluebell returned and climbed on
the stool next to me. As if on cue, the house-lights dimmed and
the dancing couples returned to their seats. An expectant hush
filled the darkened hall.
Miss Bluebell shook out a cigarette
from the pack she retrieved from her purse and placed it between
her lips. I grabbed at her golden Dupont to offer her a light.
A loud gasp, random tittering, cries
of surprise and delight surged from the center of the room as
the rectangular dance floor began to ascend. Miss Bluebell
returned my smile remembering the scene from the rehearsals that
afternoon. The audience seemed as astonished as I had been.
Everyone was swept up in a thrill of expectancy. The magic of
the evening had begun even before first note of the overture
Music swelled from out of nowhere. All
heads turned to right-hand corner of the ceiling to an open
enclosure where the musicians sat. The dimly lit alcove hung
from the rafters like the over-sized gondola from a blimp. For
the third time that day I was open mouthed and astounded: a live
orchestra was floating high over the spectators, not down in a
pit or off to the side like in Vegas. What would they think of
Five minutes later, the overture
reached its crescendo and slid into silence. Blackout. Two
heartbeats later, an electric guitar backed by a simple beat of
the drums sliced through the darkness like the cry of a lone fox
on a moonless night.
A sudden explosion of light and music;
the curtain parted and a flurry of sequins and rhinestones burst
out over the audience in a tidal wave of flesh and feathers. The
audience went wild.
Goose pimples erupted up over my arms
and the back of my neck; my stomach lurched as if the floor had
dropped out from under us. I let out an audible gasp. Miss
Bluebell patted my knee as if she sensed my wonder. All
skepticism, any doubt concerning the decision that had landed me
here, disappeared. The magic of the Lido had me fast in its
hold, thrilled me far beyond anything I had experienced in Las
Vegas or Lake Tahoe. Fate had truly set me down in the land of
From the back of the room the girls
seemed to be dancing on top of the heads of the audience.
Totally unique. In Vegas, the production took place in front of
the public, not in its midst. Here, with the major portion of
the stage in the middle of the room, the atmosphere became more
imposing, more attainable, even overwhelming when the dancers
stampeded over the raised stage in a rush of color and sparkle.
The audience was close enough to reach out and touch something
normally out of bounds.
When the boy dancers made their entrance, Miss Bluebell leaned over to me and began pointing out the parts I would soon be dancing. My excitement waned. As impressive as the initial effect had been, the dance routines were about as exciting as American underwear. I prayed something a little more demanding would present itself further into the show.