Men in tights and the women who watch them
posted by: gretchen
When Nini, my sister-in-law, and I stepped off the elevator and into the crowd at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, we didn’t know which way to go.
We had just left my car on the eighth floor roof of the parking garage. The fact I had to drive up the equivalent of the most extreme curly slide in the world should indicate how intensely busy the DCPA was this past Saturday night. I was feeling a bit turned around and food-intoxicated from the massive Prime Rib dinner I had just devoured over on 16th Street. For our Girl’s Night Out we chose a restaurant where the menus are not laminated and napkins don’t pop out of a magic silver box.
The crowd was diverse and happy to be out on such a beautifully mild February night. Neither of us had been to any performances at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, so we decided to pick people out of the crowd who looked like they were going to the ballet, as opposed to going to cage fighting. We’d follow them. A group of rouged ladies in long furry coats seemed promising, so we hooked on to the train of Chanel in the air and followed them to a building which featured large posters of violins. No leaping tights in sight. I found a smiling employee who was happy to point us in the right direction of Coppelia, the ballet we were going to see. It was at the opposite end of the complex.
Once safely inside the correct building, we could finally relax. The beauty of the opera house was nearly overwhelming. Our seats were close to the stage, but there was such an intimate, hushed feel to the room that there couldn’t be a bad seat anywhere in the house. I’ve never been closer to an entire percussion section, even in high school. I liked debaters. Perhaps I looked like a rube, but I examined every square inch of the room – the curving balconies of warm wood, the russet-red reclining seats, the shape and soothing glow of the simple star-like chandelier high above us.
Between the two of us, Nini and I have nine children ages ten and under. I can’t speak for her, but it isn’t often when I am the slack-jawed kid who thinks this place is so cool! I had to resist the urge to shake the elderly gentleman in front of us, saying, “Did ya see the lights drop down Mister? Did ya? How much you think that curtain weighs? More than a T-Rex? Can I go potty?”
The music began. When the conductor’s head peeked over the divider, Nini giggled. I think she was feeling it, too.
Coppelia is a light-hearted story of romance with a comic mix-up of mistaken identities. The hero of the story, Franz, is engaged to a perfectly lovely and limber Swanhilda. But he spies Coppelia on a balcony and instantly falls in love with her. There is one problem with his new crush. She isn’t who, or what, she appears to be. Don’t worry, though. If you are thinking of seeing Coppelia, be assured it is not an 18th century Three’s Company, although they have their version of the Regal Beagle.
The dancers were astonishingly talented. Nini later confessed to wondering if she could do what they did, but realized she can’t. That’s part of the fun of going to the ballet – to hear the music, to appreciate the art of the dance, and to be delighted by the whimsical sets. You are so aware you cannot do what they do. You wish you could, and then you mentally inventory your children to see if you have a three-year-old daughter to sign up for lessons on Monday.
In between acts, Nini and I discussed how we did our hair. She watched a YouTube tutorial to get her ‘do. I pulled a straightening iron out of the back of my bathroom cupboard. We caught up each other’s lives, talked about our kids and our husbands. I am married to her brother. That provides hours of discussion fodder in itself.
Once the curtain dropped after heaps of applause and a standing ovation for the principal dancers, we reluctantly exited the theater. We played a rousing game of Will It Be This Elevator? After being told no over a dozen times, we jumped on an already-crowded car for the trip to the eighth level of the parking garage.
Finally up and outside, we turned the corner to the lot. I noticed a car with its lights on. It was my car. The iPod was on, playing music for the crushed french fries in the carpet. Nini and I looked at each other and laughed. We got in and buckled our seatbelts as if we were actually going somewhere. I said a little prayer. The engine started. I have rarely been more relieved.
We had a great time, but home and its own tiny dancers were waiting.
Tell us about one of your favorite “Girl’s Night Out” memories!