Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Guerilla Rebellion Underground Blues Supper 3

Each year Virginia Beach puts on a weekend of free Blues at Beach with about a dozen bands on a small outdoor stage sponsored by Budweiser. It’s gone from being a magnet for drunks and the local homeless to a decent event, even if the majority of bands all look and sound the same-- drummer, electric guitar, bass player, and a pudgy 50-something year old guy in a Hawaiian shirt and a big floppy hat. If you’re lucky you’ll get a harmonica player or maybe some boogie woogie piano. It’s definitely a tourist safe, Magaritaville mix of family friendly blues but when the local blues dancers tacked on 2 DJ'ed late nights for $25, the weekend turned into a good excuse to invite dance friends into town for a cheap weekend.

One year dancer Ellen Stantschew from Germany popped in between Herrang Dance Camp and a DJ tour of eastern U.S. cities to DJ the blues late nights and unfortunately was treated less than well by some of the locals. The final straw came with us laughingly walking out of an atrociously bad dinner at Uroma's Restaurant (which, not surprisingly folded soon after) and heading back to our place for Chinese take out over discussions about DJ'ing. Thus was jokingly born the Guerilla Underground Blues Summit (GUBS).

The next year the price of the late night dances jumped to $45 and 8 of my out of town DJ friends came down for the weekend, shared music, danced, enjoyed a lovely dinner prepared by Megan Adair and others, and again got crapped on by the local organizer. So, we jokingly referred to it as "The Son of GUBS" weekend. The following summer, during VBLX we upped the bar for our dinner party by bringing live music and we had 24 guests.

Heading into this year's Blues at the Beach/Dirt Cheap Blues weekend, we were surprised by phone calls and emails from as far away as Boston, Tennessee and Oregon asking if we were throwing another dinner party. I seized on the support to guilt Patty into letting me do another party. Around the same time, Duane Grover suggested GRUBS would be a better acronym for a dinner party and, with that, the even more tongue in cheek, Guerilla Rebellion Underground Blues Supper 3 was conceived.

We spent the month before preparing the menu, inviting guests and cleaning. I have to admit, I had absolutely no idea how many people to expect. We had a solid RSVP for 12 with another 10 probable and 10 more probably nots so I figured 25 and cooked for 40 so there would be leftovers. What I didn't realize was, between my house guests and I, we had 5 of the top Blues DJ's on the east coast lined up playing music for us that night-- even more importantly, everybody else in town knew it.

So, we got the 12, and the 10 probablies, and the other 10 probably nots and then we realized we were going to be looking at a very full house. At 11 o'clock, when the party was supposed to wind down, the dancing was still going full tilt. A group that had just arrived was in the kitchen making deviled eggs and another was starting some baking. Meanwhile, Corey Wright plugged in as DJ to keep the party rolling for those who weren't attending the late night.

Around 1 a.m. Patty and I were sitting on our front steps as Benny Goodman's Vibraphone Blues poured out the windows into the street (and unbeknownst to us, a ukelele jam band playing on the back patio). I smiled at my bemused but overwhelmed wife and said, "Tonight, we're THOSE neighbors, the bad ones. We're going to get the cops called on us for blasting music that was recorded over 60 years ago."

A little later another group we didn't know parked at the end of the long row of cars lining the street and walked to our door. Patty introduced us as the hosts but, to our surprise, they just shrugged and walked in (by our guess as guests 63-65). Patty smiled and said, "they were carrying dancer shoe bags; I guess they're okay."

Around 2 a.m. with the absynthe bottles emptying out things started to wind down and, to our total amazement, by 2:45 a.m. the 20 or so remaining stragglers had finished cleaning up and hauling out the trash and remnants of the previous 8 hours of celebration out before heading over to the late night for closing 2 hours.

It was a magical evening, far exceeding anything Patty and I could have ever imagined (or willingly planned for). We're not sure of everyone who was here or everything that happened. I do know we set a record for the biggest 3 layer cuddle couch of all time. So, incredible amounts of love to everyone who made the evening such a once in a lifetime happening... until next year.

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