"Do you want to go foam dancing with me and my friends tonight?" That sentence stared at me from my computer a few Wednesdays ago. And for about two minutes, I stared back at it. Eight years ago, when my free time consisted mostly of Saved By the Bell reruns and MTV Spring Break, there would have been no question. "I don't think so," I typed back to my 20-year-old friend.
Five hours later, I'm in a car with my friend heading to FX, the 18+ dance club in Southwest Portland. My choices on this night were slim. As a music critic, I'm naturally a snob, but I didn't really have any other plans. It's this or heading to the Lucinda Williams concert alone where I would end up drinking too much whiskey or crying, but likely both. Besides, I think I should be more open-minded about all forms of entertainment. And foam? I mean, come on, what isn't appealing about that?
The first and last time I walked into an 18+ dance club was when I was 18. I remember grinding the same girl as my fraternity brother Nate. "Now as I'm rollin' with my nigga Dre and Eastwood," he rapped along to me over the girl's head. "Fuckin' hoes, clockin' dough up to no good." Within two weeks Nate, the club and the fraternity were only a memory.
So I go and stand in line down on Front Avenue with a bunch of kids really stoked because they don't have to deal with Mr. Brownstein and his "fucking stupid algebra bullshit." I have the longest hair of any guy here and am the only one wearing a sports coat-and a five o'clock shadow. I keep eavesdropping: "Did you know that Tony can bench 275? He totally can!"
We sign insurance waivers, pay 10 bucks and we're in. About 30 kids-girls in short skirts or Daisy Dukes and boys in polos and swim trunks-are dancing under a smallish waterfall of foam. I stand around while my group starts dancing and then decide I need to go next door to the Up Front and get a drink. My friend calls me lame as I walk away from the dancing 18-year-olds to the cozy confines of a bar. Unfortunately, I forget that the bar will be filled with the least desirable characters of the evening: the 21+ dudes who hang out in all-ages clubs. And suddenly I am aware that I am one of them. I take a shot and a beer and try to join the conversation...to no avail, as I know nothing about crotch rockets.
I head back into FX and suddenly it's like Spring Break 2005 in Cancún. There's foam everywhere, all the guys have lost their shirts and the girls are wearing...bikinis. There's much grinding, especially against the soap-soaked walls of the club. One young man isn't quite dancing as much as trying to impale the object of his affection through at least two layers of clothing. He is thrusting so hard that I can hear the impact over 50 Cent's "Just a Lil Bit" bearing down from the speakers above. My friend emerges from the foam and pulls me into its epicenter, which is the only place on the dance floor that's not jam-packed with ass. I soon find out why as my world is overcome by a great whiteness.
As I try to keep rhythm to Green Day's "American Idiot," I inhale a mouthful of foam, brush up against a very beefy tattooed arm and begin to hyperventilate for the first time in my life. As I cough and sputter, swimming through the foam, attempting to create an open space to breathe as the white stuff cascades hopelessly down, I realize two things: I'm too old for this, and I'm very happy to know that.