We have a troupe rule.
Never dance at an Eagles Hall.
And this is why.
The Eagles have a policy whereby you can use the Eagles Hall for your event, but their members MUST still retain access. So it isn’t just your place; their members are still walking about. And if you know anything about the Eagles, they tend to be older gentlemen of a particular demographic…good ol’ boys ’round these parts.
The first “incident” was at a dance competition…oh…6 years ago maybe? We were not competing, but performing in a showcase on Saturday evening. The place was set up so that there was a big well-lit dance floor in the middle of an open room, with rows of chairs for the show spectators; and along the back wall, under a dropped ceiling so it was kinda cave-like, was a loooong bar area with some old low tables near it–think a stereotypical 70’s holdover dive bar and you have the image right (that image to the left is not the one we were at, but is an Eagles Club bar and is pretty close to capturing the “essence”). So here are all the spangly dancers and their fans, and under the “cave” was the dark, dank bar with old men smoking up a storm, drinking, and LEERING. Oh yes, leering. Back then, we were wearing turbans, and one man saw fit to come up to us and start ragging on “towel heads”, which I think we handled pretty well saying that not all people in turbans matched his experiences and expectations, US included. Everywhere we walked, rheumy eyes followed.
It was smoky, stinky, and creepy. We said then we would never ever dance at an Eagle’s Hall again.
But then we adopted the “we’ll try anything TWICE” rule. We realized that judging something based on ONE experience isn’t really fair, and if we have a bad experience once, we should give it one more chance. Oh what fools we were…
There was a local dance camp I used to go to every year for many years. And I was honored as could be when they asked me to guest teach one year! It was the 20th anniversary of the camp, and a Big Deal. They decided instead of the usual hafla at the campsite meeting building, we were “going into town” for a gala show. So I had my troupe come out (it’s on an island, so they took the ferry out) to perform with me at the show. And where was this show? At the EAGLES HALL!
So again, the same rules. The members must have access. But this Eagles was set up a little differently. There was a side room/ballroom where we held our dance show, and then there was a central room with tables and chairs and the full bar separate from that. Still the same cheesy/divey 70’s getup; but here we were a little separate, and though tickets were sold for anyone who wanted to come in and see the show, it was sold out pretty quickly by campers and friends.
We were greeted very kindly by one of the head honchos, who gave us a pitch about how us young folks should join the Eagles and all the benefits. It was uncomfortable, but friendly enough. We went to get ready, and found out that some creepy man (a member of the club) had asked to buy tickets for the show, and was turned down because they were sold out. He then asked if he could pay ***$100 TO STAND IN THE BUSHES AND LOOK THROUGH THE WINDOW!!!*** Of course they said no, and was asked to leave. He was later found at the window anyway, and was escorted off. Later we had to walk outside around that side of the building to get in to the show, and though no, we didn’t find him there, it was scary to walk back there no doubt.
Later, two of our girls went up to the bar to get a drink, and a man walked up behind them, slid himself between them and put an arm around each of them. I don’t remember what he said, but I can picture one dancer who still tells the story today that he used the word “Lllladies” (you know the tone) as he rubbed each of their shoulders and looked right down their cleavage. Bless their hearts, the girls who fell prey were my least confrontational of the bunch and froze in fear and then hurried away.
After our performance, the ballroom turned into an open dance space, and we were all getting our boogie on when some of the members of the club would come up and try to dance in on us. Hello? Big circle of women dancing in a closed circle into one another, and guys would come and try to “hump up” behind. We kept moving around the room to get away from them, and insinuating ourselves when other women found themselves in similar situations and didn’t have the wherewithal to know how to handle it, and finally gave up and left the open dance altogether.
Finally, some drunken 50 year old men out back tried to pick us up while we were trying to get some air and escape the madness indoors.
Aaaand, we were done.
We laugh about it now, because we have that sense of humor and no one was hurt in any way, but we will NOT be dancing at an Eagles Club again.