From the moment we stepped out of the car last Friday night, we were three girls looking for a fight. Being in LoDo will do that do you: There's an air of misbehavior that must be half the appeal of the place. My mom's been an ER nurse for close to four decades, and she says that at least once a weekend, she gets an ambulance carrying a young man from out of state who has had maybe two drinks, then been beaten to an unrecognizable pulp. And at some point, he was hanging out in LoDo.
It's not all LoDo's fault, of course; that desire to rabble-rouse and cause trouble can hit you at any time. And it doesn't just hit men; it hits women, too. I don't think it's just my group of friends who enjoy taunting guys on the street until they look like they might actually be game to hit a woman. Fortunately, we didn't get into any fights over St. Patrick's Day weekend, but we sure tried -- and some of those fights even came to us, strictly based on how out of context we three ratty, pseudo-punk girls looked to regular LoDo patrons.
All this had me wondering: Why is it so hard for humans to function in social situations where there's no context for how they look or act? In other words, why did these bros think we were lesbians? And why did we want to fight them even before they made an inaccurate blanket statement about our sexuality?
See also: - What did you just say to me?: How to deal with adults with poor social skills - The question you're too drunk to ask: Why is Oktoberfest celebrated in September? - Blondes don't have more fun; fake Italian girls with glasses do
Sometimes when you're in love/lust/like, you find yourself at a LoDo bar you wouldn't normally set foot in, watching your boyfriend play in some insane version of a funk band. In my case, I'd dragged my two friends along to brave the situation, but as always, they were game. It was something we didn't normally do, and it was bound to be entertaining, even if it wasn't our usual kind of fun.
They had decided that since I was going to stand at the foot of the stage for the entire evening fawning over my perfect man, they were going to play make-believe at the bar. (My friends and I play make-believe a lot; sometimes we just have fake names, other times we have fake occupations and fake storylines so detailed it's hard for us to tell when we are lying.)
The girls' story for the night was that they were reality-TV scouts for a new show set to air on Spike TV next year -- basically, this angle would allow them to try to convince a patio full of drunk bros to showcase "unique talents." After about thirty minutes at this strange LoDo bar, I went out back to check on my girls. There I found them surrounded by fall-down drunkards, one gentleman almost fully into a headstand, obviously trying out for the new show.
I separated them from the wild pack of bros and we grabbed seats for some prime LoDo people-watching. This bar had live music, but I'm particularly fascinated by crowds of individuals who flock to this part of town each weekend, waiting to get into a bar with nothing but other people in it, only to have to then wait to get a drink and then wait to go to the bathroom. Waiting must be fun for people who like LoDo.
Turns out, some other drunks decided they wanted to join us and sat down at our table. One of the gentlemen, slurring through generalizations, remarked that my friend Robin was unique because she had "red hair and bangs." He simply called my look "Velma," and then stared at my friend Alex for a while, speechless, mostly because I don't think he'd ever seen a real girl with a Chelsea haircut before.
I felt like a zoo animal to this sleepy-eyed wasteoid -- but then I realized that he was a zoo animal to us, too. We were just three punks invading their space, trying to figure out what the appeal of this kind of bar life was all about. I'm sure it would have been the same for this dude if he were in our space, at a warehouse somewhere, standing in a circle watching a writhing guy on the floor scream into a microphone and calling it art.
But it had me thinking a lot about context: Social situations seem to be all about being comfortable in places you have come to understand are made for you. When I go to a DIY venue in another city to see a band play, I know that the other people around me will have a desire to talk about similar bands and record labels or share experiences from past shows and, in general, be on the same pop-culture page.
How could I go to a bar in LoDo and not expect to be questioned for wearing real glasses and a funny outfit? I couldn't. Just as I couldn't expect a dude in all green to be any less drunk than he was. We were at a bar, after all. And when we left that night and some other random guys labeled us with a homophobic slur, well, we may have just gotten into that fight we were looking for. I guess LoDo can be pretty fun sometimes.
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