I've been stalking their site since I got here and for the most part it looked like they'd rolled up that fine, fine floor and made out for the territories. Not coming back. COVID killed the radio star and the music was just gone. It's possible, you know. More than possible. You can stifle a community right past dormancy and into dead. You can. One of the most appealing things about this part of Vermont, aside from the hiking, is exactly this dance.
I danced at the Capital City Grange in Montpellier twice because I was within one hundred miles of those fine, fine floors exactly twice. It's not like Greenfield. The round trip drive to Greenfield from Weston is exactly 260 miles. That's a two and a half hour drive, three hours of dancing followed by another two and a half back home. They were worth the stretch. They are worth the stretch but I've gone and added 72 miles to the commute. That may not sound like much (subjectively) but 48 of those additional miles are VT 17 and 100B. That's an extra 35 minutes each way in broad daylight. Greenfield came off my list of possibilities and I'm sad but the promise of Montpellier more than makes up for it.
Except they're not here, are they?
This makes sense. Vermont is one of the safest COVID locations in the US (all fifty states); why would they even think about dancing just now? Even Greenfield, the mecca of contra in the northeast (imho) would have seemed dormant if not for the online events that held the community together for two years. I don't think they've opened the doors to the Guiding Star Grange just yet, but they're out there.
Montpellier has been silent until just about right now.
They are dancing tonight. I don't know if the room will be quite so crowded but imagine those dancers in N95 masks. That's what will happen tonight. I won't be there but Pete and Oliver and Will and Luke (and a good handful of other notables) will be exactly there.
The man on the right is heart stopping, heart breaking, and that guy on the left's not too shabby either. If David Kaynor was the reason I kept dancing when my feet were still tangled, Pete Sutherland is my personal touchstone of community dance. I spoke with him once at a fiddle workshop last summer, when our numbers were low and I cried in the parking lot afterward. I wanted to ask him to pull out his fiddle (I firmly believe it's attached to his body) and at the very least, sing Grateful Place. Watch this and weep with me. I'm listening now and there's no point asking the tears to stop. It's a river this morning.
I want to get in the car tonight and drive east and stand in the parking lot with my face pressed to a window. I want to acquire a new dress (the only thing I've got left are my shoes). I want to listen but I don't know that I can. I'm not sure I'd ever stop crying.
But that's hope right there, isn't it? I think so. Eleven years ago, when I was more isolated than I'd ever been, I watched the dance at the Clearwater festival and the very next Saturday Elizabeth and I walked onto a dance floor in Southern Connecticut and just like that, most of the isolation evaporated.
I ache. How can hope be so tangled in the net of despair?
Wait for me. Please wait for me. Dance tonight. Be safe tonight so that some night, not too far in the future, we can walk through those doors together.
Wait for me.