I didn't even ask who was performing when I agreed to provide transportation for a friend and his buddy to go to a music concert at the NorVa on Monday, June 9th in exchange for my free admission. My tastes in music are pretty elastic and I love a social gathering, so the type of music performed that night was pretty inconsequential: I was going to have a good time!
We got there early and had time to kill before they got started. My first and only other visit to the NorVa earlier this year was when we arrived late and the place was packed. This time I was able to wander about and really look around. I don't know why, but I love architecture. Old, new, modern, ancient…it all fascinates me. Maybe it has to do with being the direct descendant of several historically influential builders and architects including Truman O. Angell.
One of the friends I went there with called me over with admonishing glances, to state matter-of-factly that what I was doing would make people think I was either crazy or high. I gave it a moments consideration and realized that tracing the outline of the old brick walls in the dark and standing by myself, head thrown back scruitinzing the celiing might look a bit conspicuous.
I shrugged, but agreed with an aknowledging nod to refrain from further embarrassment to my friends. I mozied over to the bar where the two male bartenders gave each other sideways glances at each other. I knew they'd been watching my solo antics and probably wondered if it was safe to sell me a drink.
I smiled as I explained that I was the designated driver, bored and interested in architecture after taking a college course on the subject. They relaxed and indulged my questions about the history of the building. While they didn't know too much they gave me enough info. to satisfy my immediate curiosity and when I got home I Googled it.
Apparently it was once an Opera House turned into a sports store where a first baseman for the Richmond Colts named Jake Wells stopped in to buy sport equipment one day and liked the architecture so well that he bought the building and turned it into a Vaudeville Theater. During it's time (starting in 1899) Peter Pan (played by Maud Adams) flew across the stage and teams of real horses walked on treadmills for "Ben-Hur". Other performers included dancer Fred Astaire, country legend Will Rogers and patriotic composer John Philip Sousa.
According to the traditions of the day, the upper third balcony was reserved for blacks and had it's own entrance and box office. The second level (containing 12 box seating) and lower level were reserved for whites. Altogether it seated 1,650. Chinese food from a neighboring resturant was served on the second floor roof garden before and after performances.
After changing hands a few times, the NorVa was renovated in 1998 to become the music venue as we know it now. The name NorVa comes from suqashing together the city and state of location: Norfolk and VA. Many bands love playing there not only for it's high-end acoustics and lighting equipment; but apparently backstage they have a hot tub, a sauna, a rec room and an indoor basketball court! Wow~ Maybe that's why Rolling Stones magazine named the NorVa one of the nation's top 5 rock clubs.
Anyway. The band playing that night, Disco Biscuits, was an interesting combination of jazz and rock twisted with techno and lots of solo guitar and occasional unexpected vocals. They consider themselves a "trance-fusion" Jam Band. All that mattered to me was that it was lively and you could dance to it.
My mistake for the evening was wearing sandals with a heel. A tall heel. It may look sexy to dance in heels, but quite honestly it quickly goes from hot and sexy to just plain painful. And I was clearly the only girl there who didn't have the sense to wear regular shoes or as the vast majority wore: flip-flops. Lovely. I love being the odd one out. Ha~
Several sober and many half drunk girls sympathized with me as I sat out a few songs to detach the killer shoes from my feet at a table, or while sitting on the counter in the girls bathroom soaking my feet in the sink with water that never got quite cold enough. Let's hope I remember next time that sex appeal is null and void when you're limping and your face is twisted with agony.
Upon arriving, I'd given my phone to my friend with deep pockets, since -of course- my jean pockets were as impractical as my shoes. It's amazing how men's clothing is sometimes almost ugly because it's so functional and not the least bit fashionable. Conversely, women's clothing is so geared to the visual effects on the body, it's quite worthless for anything else.
At one point I had a bit of a scare when I saw on the somewhat garbage littered floor in front of me, in the crush of heavy feet and moving legs- my phone! Or actually, after checking with my friend, a phone that looked just like mine.
I could have left it there. It wasn't my phone. It wasn't my problem. Someone else would be screwed when they discovered it was gone, and started hunting for it when the sweaty masses left, by which time it would probably be irreversibly damaged: death by stomping.
Despite efforts to have a more foot-loose and careless attitude, I will always be a goody-goody. I like that about myself though. I always want to be the kind of person I would want to be friends with. And that means caring about the feelings, trials and concerns of complete strangers. I nearly got knocked over picking it up, but after a few of the guys in front of me saw that I was hunting around their feet for the other two parts they helped.
This particular phone when dropped always breaks into three pieces: the battery door snaps off and the card jumps out. With about four of us looking around in the flashing strobe light/dark, we found all the parts. I thanked my help profusely and triumphantly put it back together. I wondered if these guys would have helped me search the dirty floor if they knew it wasn't even my phone. I'd like to think so.
My friend took it to the front for the lost and found, and I enjoyed imagining the relief and gratitude of whoever would be reunited with their troublesome piece of expensive plastic.
I believe in good Karma. Whenever possible, I try to throw a little altruism on the allegorical scales weighing my actions and choices, hopefully helping to balance out my times of thoughtlessness or carelessness. I love that every day is an opportunity to do something better. A fresh start. A chance to help others and show generosity. Eventually, no matter how small or trivial it may seem, what goes around comes back around and I want that cycle of kindness to be frequent in my life.
Aside from almost eating the ground a few times sliding around in my impractical shoes, the rest of the night was pretty uneventful. I jammed to the music, drank a ton of water and amused myself watching the other people dance, interact and enjoy themselves. I ended the evening with sore feet and the slightly giddy feeling that only doing an anonymous good deed can cause.
It was a good night.
[MySpace Posted Wednesday, June 25, 2008]