Even though by the time 'NSYNC rolled into the mainstream, in the mid-'90s, I was already riding the Lollapalooza train to Alternative Nation, I, too, reveled in the ease of being a boy-band fan. I wasn't as devoted as most 'NSYNC fans I knew, but I liked the music — oh, and the videos! — and owned some of the ubiquitous merch. But the only reason I had an 'NSYNC shirt and a tiny book called Lance in My Pocket (it's full of fun factoids about Lance, like how much he loves Looney Tunes) to begin with was because I worked at the mall. In those days, we would illegally trade merchandise between stores. I was an employee at KB Toys, and my Catholic guilt didn't allow me to participate in this store-to-store stealing — but a friend was the manager at a bulk candy store, meaning loads of candy was some of the best currency around. She had a running swap going with some of the clerks at Claire's — a premier hub for '
Fast-forward to this past weekend, when I found myself standing 500 dudes deep at Tracks. We were all there (I'm assuming) because Lance Bass was scheduled to appear on a stage at some point during the evening. The fliers for the event didn't say that he was performing or even deejaying; he was just supposed to be there, and I wasn't going to miss it. As sexy shirtless dudes with suspenders passed by and gaggles of young twenty-something bachelorettes barged through the bottleneck entranceway within the haunted-house maze that is Tracks, I sat at a table with my friend Keith, taking it all in. He pointed out that these tall tables we were hanging on to weren't normally adorned with satin tablecloths, but when Lance is in town, well, all stops are pulled out.
We sat at that table for what felt like forever, watching the endless conveyor belt of aging club kids, Hollister-wearing sassy bros and off-duty
Just before midnight, Denver Dance — Tracks's in-house version of the Fly Girls — appeared on the stage in one of the rooms, signaling that something was about to go off. They threw down a routine and quickly wrapped it up, just as Tracks co-owner Martin Chernoff wandered onto the stage to celebrate the club's 35th anniversary of existence. Oh, and then Lance appeared, too! He was carrying a cake with Chernoff's face on it, which was cool. But Lance! Lance was finally there. What I can only assume to be kind words were said about the Denver club pioneer and the anniversary, but no one could hear anything because the music booming from the other room was drowning it all out. Still, it didn't matter. There was Lance! Being Lance and looking very Lance-like.
Folks filed off the stage for a few moments before Lance reappeared, this time with his husband, Michael Turchin. The screen behind them now appropriately read "Lance," and Lance and Michael took turns smiling as we all stared at them like they were two prom kings. Lance made a motion toward the ceiling as if something was supposed to happen, but it didn't. He did it again and we all looked up. He did it a third time, and finally, confetti fell from above — because hooray! Lance. Lance and Michael said something cool about marriage equality and then shimmied their way off the stage.
Keith and I wandered back to our satin table in the corner like two losers at the loser table in the lunchroom and pondered the moment. Was it all we had wanted it to be? Was Lance as Lance as Lance could be? The answer was yes, yes he was. I went to Tracks to see if Lance Bass was a real-life human. And he is. Though my crush on Lance — the quiet one — is not as strong as it once was when I worked at the mall, it was still cool to see him.
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