Another Saturday night and I have no one
I have money because I just got paid
Now how I wish I had someone to talk to
I’m in a terrible state
Another Saturday Night – Sam Cooke
I’m lucky. One of the best small music clubs in the country is ten minutes from my house. The Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach has great drinks, a great sound system, and such an immaculate reputation that over the past two years it’s hosted everyone from the Foo Fighters, Lady Gaga, and The Rolling Stones for events. private to Lukas Nelson, Buddy Guy and tonight’s feature “A Bowie Celebration: Bowie Alumni play Diamond Dogs and Ziggy Stardust.”
I originally bought eight tickets for this show, planning to use four and sell the rest. That was months ago, and plans are changing. My friends who planned to go were in Hawaii. My significant other had his children tonight. As usual, I was cooking. Thus, all tickets were on sale, but only six sold out.
The show was called for 9 p.m. Dinner and after dinner drinks by the fire were prepared at 10pm. As I drove the 3 miles home, it occurred to me that in just five more minutes I could be at the Belly Up and catch the last part of Bowie’s show. They would surely play the good stuff in the end.
I was inside the gate at 10:20. Security at the gate wasn’t expecting anyone else. The show had been going on for over an hour. They quickly rallied and found a scanner. My ticket was scanned without any problem. The guy who walked in right behind me was a different story. He didn’t have a ticket and the event was sold out. I told him I had extra, all I wanted was a beer. It was the best case conversion of an otherwise wasted ticket tonight. He was able to see the last hour of the show and I was not thirsty.
If you follow my writing, you know that I published a story analyzing the effects, if any, of the Coronavirus on Coachella, and by extension the entire spring live music season. Here’s that story that’s now nostalgic as Coachella has canceled yet again, this time scraping the spring 2021 dates:
I was really curious to know what this event would look like from the inside. Answer: Like all the other events I’ve seen at Belly Up. I walked into a packed room. The band had just released Space Oddity, and the crowd was hopping.
Here’s something else: half the room was bald or grey, no one had a mask on – the only sign of some sort of facial protection was a few hipster beards. The girls were as affectionate as ever with their dates and absolutely no one was following the CDC’s recommendation to stand six feet from the person next to you. I followed my own protocol to protect myself from the Coronavirus: start with a well-honed immune system and continuously disinfect with whiskey. It’s not for everyone, but it sure is fun.
At the end of the show, I was completely satisfied and had only really seen the second half. If he comes to your town, go see him. All Bowie, all fun.
As for the fear of crowd-borne disease or community spread: I’m pretty sure there’s half the room left to go somewhere private and swap all kinds of genetic material. No one was hiding around with disinfectant wipes. Most of us drank from glasses that maybe saw a three minute run through a high speed washer behind the bar, but those glasses were then touched by the bartender and server at minimum.
We haven’t had many people testing positive in San Diego County yet. It might change the behavior. But, while text messages are flying to my phone with people sending articles and comments about whether or not Coachella is canceled (yes, if the county or state steps in so they can collect their insurance under force majeure theory), I saw something else. People are tired of the daily deluge of bad news. It’s the same loop all day, every day. Tomorrow, who knows, maybe Julian Assange will move to Northern Ireland and write a play with Mick Mulvaney. Everything is the same until it’s not.
When the country starts to change, pay attention. There is certainly fear about this virus. But, pushback happens. I saw it tonight: yes, I could catch the virus, but I could also have the night of my life. You could stay cooped up at home with your 30-year-old supply of Costco toilet paper, or you could live your life understanding that there’s only one way for all of us. Bowie wrote the ending: Let’s Dance.
The universe always sends messages. It helps to listen. The band finished strong, with Heroes.
Even if nothing, nothing will keep us together
We can beat them, forever and ever
Oh we can be heroes just for one day
Heroes — David Bowie