I live on the west side of Atlanta in a small neighborhood bordered by a jail, a concrete recycling plant and the CSX train yards. But even surrounded by that industrial moat, there are a few businesses that serve residents' needs. There's a porn shop, a liquor store next door, and around the corner is Body Tap XXXclusive, a strip club that caters mainly to people of color (and colorful people) from far and wide. And since my next-door neighbor, Warren, has a virtual conveyor belt of cute women parading in and out of his apartment, I figured he would be the man to escort me to "the Tap" (as he and his friends call it).
There are significant differences between the Tap and other clubs that cater to a clientele whose skin tones are similar to my fishbelly white. For example, it's all about booties rather than boobies at the Tap. The ladies there have Rubenesque bodies -- at least from the waist down. I spotted a single pair of breast implants among all the natural flesh in the room, almost inverse the ratio in clubs with a predominantly white roster of dancers. Since the patrons' eyes are focused almost entirely on ass, the women (facing the other way) don't have to fake a friendly or seductive smile. They often look more bored than anything. But nobody notices because of the bouncing buttocks.
Instead of politely slipping a dollar in a garter, the patrons of the Tap throw massive quantities of money at the dancers' feet, or sprinkle it over their favorite jiggling ass. The bar handed out astounding numbers of $100 stacks of crisp $1 bills to allow the patrons to imitate music video icons. With this flow of money, the dancers don't need to perform three-song sets on stage. Instead, they work one-one-one doing "table dances" more often. There were times when there wasn't a single performer on stage. Two 20-inch brass poles stood unused during our visit. One of the dancers said, "I'm not climbing that thing. We don't get benefits." Somehow I doubt Norma Rae standing on a table with a "union" sign would get much attention there.
I headed to Piedmont Park for the Dogwood Festival on Saturday around noon. Grey clouds flew overhead and spit rain at random, but even that did not deter people from enjoying the afternoon. On my way into the park, I was handed a map by a volunteer who asked, without even a hint of an ironic smile, "Would you like to make a donation to keep the festival free?" Over at the Cultural Corner stage, I enjoyed a performance by Whoa Nelly, a bluegrass group playing some fun tunes. At first I thought the band shared little in common with rapper Nelly -- then the members sang "This Ain't No Crackhouse (It's My Home Sweet Home)." The lovely and graceful Janet Parks followed as part of a performance by City Dance Ensemble, about as far opposite as you can get from the Tap. Afterward, the ensemble did a group piece in the street as part of a preview to its May 21 show at the Rialto Center downtown.
Next to the main stage, artist Brian Olsen performed as Art in Action, painting in a frenzy with three or four brushes in each hand, to the beat of blaring music. As the painting took shape, one of the folks in the crowd yelled, "Wooooo, Albert Einstein!" I had to wonder when was the last time anyone yelled that. Others clapped and whistled. If everyday Atlantans were as enthusiastic about visual arts lacking a performance or soundtrack component, perhaps the Atlanta Arts Fest would be alive and well. But things change.
The Dogwood Festival may be threatened as well, and not from a lack of donations to keep the festival free. A fungal infection called anthracnose has been devastating the population of wild dogwoods nationwide. But according to the USDA Forest Service Southern Region, "High-value trees can be protected by mulching, pruning and watering during droughts, and applying a fungicide." I lost one of the two dogwoods in my yard last year, so I hope the park staff are keeping an eye on their trees.
Saturday night, I visited Academy Theater in Avondale Estates for Dutch Loves Bijou, an experiment in vaudeville. If the spectrum of dancing girls were a triangle, this would be on the opposite corner from the Tap and City Dance Ensemble. A live band played early jazz numbers with pep acts in between that included poetry, cross-dressing humor and burlesque striptease that was more about being artistic and clever than ass and cleavage. For a reasonable donation you can get beer and wine, and the performance follows the theater's usual Saturday night show, so I couldn't understand why there were about as many patrons in attendance as there were players on stage. Come on, people. Get out of the house!
This is why we can't have nice things.
Stop being so racist and sexist, no-hyphens.
The correct hashtag is #BlkWomynLivesMatter♀
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