Jan. 27th, 2017
Flight: UA 1696
Trump is in office and the guy who sits next to me (the last passenger to board) is clearly a Rancher. You should know I am not much of a talker on planes so I was thrilled when the seat next to me sat empty for the entire boarding process until now. He looks every bit the part of the Rancher with his Texas gallon hat, cowboy boots, worn joins and a bedazzled belt buckle. Yep, he also comes equipped with his recently acquired gigantic Super Bowl ring and equipped with lots of stories and bragging rights too.
I mean this was an impressive piece of jewelry and a big excuse to talk Sports. Little did he know he was sitting next to a Show Queen who knows more about the national figure skating finals then who is competing in the Super Bowl next week. The only thing I know is that Lady Gaga is the half time show. Back to my seatmate – it quickly becomes clear that the Rancher wants to talk and being a night-time flight I sense he wants to pull up the virtual bar stool and continue his buzz from the terminal. As you might imagine I clamp up and can’t stop thinking “oh shit this is going to be a long flight”, “Man up Larry and tell him I need to rest or get some work done”. But with some sense of curiosity and two glasses of wine later I choose to listen and I am grateful, grateful to chat with someone I wouldn’t ordinarily mix with, grateful I am not conjuring up my go-to self-defense mechanism known as isolation. But my inner dilemma is that I know at some point I am going to have to “come out” to him. Come out that I am gay but also come out that I voted for HILLARY, #Imstillwithher. This scenario plays out often with strangers asking – Where is your wife? Are you married? Kids? Of course some people just get it immediately, how could you not with my all black attire, designer sneakers and Louis Vuitton bag.
As the conversation continued I learned that the Rancher sells beef, Wagyu beef to be exact, I learn that the largest markets for beef are Las Vegas (of course with all of those buffets) and then NYC. He considers himself an entrepreneur and he clearly lets me know that he has millions in the bank. As the conversation winds it way to politics I learn that he wasn’t originally for Trump but then he got swept up by the “Drain the Swamp” motto and has been pro-Trump ever since. How I am going to relate to this man? One word – DANCE. Yes he finally asked me a question and we finally got the chance to chat about dance. Yes I did come out to him as a gay man, a Hillary supporter and as a choreographer (a word most people have a hard time pronouncing). And that was the universal hook, DANCE. His wife is a huge fan of all the TV dance shows and I knew that when he asked for my business card what he was really asking was “can I get him tickets to Hamilton?”
It is also because of dance that I find myself on this plane in the first place. I’m going to Seattle to see a dance I created on the young, contemporary company, Whim Whim . It just so happens that the dance I made, titled “Line Dance” deals with all these same emotions I feel in seat 3B – maybe you have felt them too – feeling alone, feeling left out, feeling lost in conformity.
For dinner we both had the chicken barbecue (but of course). And afterwards I did finally man up and put my headphones on, with music as my backdrop I actually thought “It was nice chatting with a Trump supporter” I know I’m not winning any blog fans by admitting that but I do think it’s important to hear the other side, to listen, to try to relate to something, there has to be something universal about our lives. To me dance is universal and my greatest pleasure in life is being with dancers. As we arrive at the gate 30 minutes early I recognize that I am also grateful to have met my Rancher friend and grateful to have dance as my common denominator.
Stay tuned for upcoming flights to Palm Springs, Denver and then at the end of the month to AFRICA.
Dance photos by Bamberg Fine Art