Standing Room Only

Standing Room Only. It’s a situation you often bump into if you are, say, riding a subway in a large city, needing to use the men’s at the intermission at a Rebels hockey game, or trying to get a double double and a honey dip at Timmy’s. Or if you are trying to get ticke

Standing Room Only. It’s a situation you often bump into if you are, say, riding a subway in a large city, needing to use the men’s at the intermission at a Rebels hockey game, or trying to get a double double and a honey dip at Timmy’s.

Or if you are trying to get tickets to an event like the Rockin’ in the Old Days reunion party, which involves a bunch of us long-time-ago bandmates getting together after quite a number of decades (four) to play music of the day and pretend we are young again.

Standing Room Only. That’s what the club, Fratters, is reporting.

Apparently many of our peers want to party but not in the upright position. What I mean is, they don’t really care for the thought of buying a ticket and then having to stand for four hours whilst the bands SAM and Gaetz Ave. Dance Band do their thing, and everybody else is sitting comfortably at tables and booths and on floors.

And I don’t blame them.

Thing is, Standing Room Only is really just a way to get into the gig and then, as they say in France, “Bob’s your uncle!” You don’t really have to stand for all four sets of 1960s and ’70s music and mayhem. A party person can move around, dance, schmooze, sit down in the washroom, sit on other people’s laps.

Besides, the night will ebb and flow and since many of the attendees are of the baby boomer generation, there will no doubt be occasional empty chairs at various times throughout the evening when people go out to their cars and motorhomes to have a nap so they can party until close to midnight.

Some of my awesome-est memories involve Standing Room Only. The Best Hall of Them All, for instance: Varsity Hall at Sylvan Lake. Of course, we were a tad younger then, but for those of us lucky enough to spend a good part of our teens and 20s in the magical dark recesses of that wooden palace, standing was the mode of choice. It was often packed enough that you either had to stand or dance and, for guys, that was often pretty much the same thing. Varsity Hall had benches all around the outer walls and a waist-high wooden fence and railing around the hot zone — the dance floor. And if memory serves (and it usually serves me adult beverages) very few Varsity Hallers would ever be sitting along the wall benches for long. With the best bands in the land up on the stage and a floor full of prospective partners, it was nearly impossible to sit. And when the band inevitably broke into one of the most popular tunes of the day — Higher and Higher by Jackie Wilson — the Standing Room Only crowd would flood to the dance floor. It was also the song that for some reason begat the tradition of having the braver (and bigger) guys hoist their female dance partners onto their shoulders and “dance” like there was no tomorrow.

Being an optimistic five feet tall at the time and being sometimes lucky enough to be on the stage playing the song instead of attempting to “dance” to it, I never did participate in having a female sit on my shoulders at Varsity Hall (or anywhere else), which no doubt would have had tragic consequences.

But I can clearly remember a sea of girls perched on shoulders rockin’ and boppin’ around the crowded dance floor like some sort of celebration parade.

Which it was really, and which is the kind of groovy vibe we hope we can create at the Rockin’ in the Old Days party next weekend. Although we only expect those under the age of 50 to put their partner on their shoulders when we play Higher and Higher.

A much different place and time only a few years ago, I was in the U.S. of A. at a Holiday Inn across the street from the Staples Center coliseum in the City of Angels. Thing is, I’d never seen a professional basketball game, having, as I may have mentioned, grown up short I had not developed an abiding interest in a game where the recommended participant height is somewhere around eight feet (12 metres).

But since nothing else seemed to be going on (a common problem in Los Angeles), and since the Lakers happened to be playing that very night, and since people like Beyonce and Jennifer Aniston often sit court side at Lakers games, I decided I’d better add a NBA game to my non-bucket list of things I never thought I’d do.

Standing Room Only. That’s what the sign said when I sauntered over to get a ticket.

Why not, I thought.

What I didn’t realize was that Standing Room Only at Staples Center meant standing behind the seats at the very top of a massive structure that holds 18,000 people!

It took me most of the first half to climb up past Row 780 to the SRO section. And then it took me till the end of intermission to get my breath back enough to actually stand up.

OK, so the players looked like ants — in fact, I’m still not sure if there actually was a basketball game going on somewhere down there — and if Beyonce or Jennifer happened to be there, they certainly weren’t within 10 km of Standing Room Only.

Thing is, we Standers had a great time up there, watching an actual NBA game on giant TV screens, scarfing hot dogs and beverages and feeling pretty lucky just being there.

As for the Rockin’ in the Old Days, I know many of us will be running on memories and adrenalin, and we’ll be partying like it was 1969. Even if it’s Standing Room Only.

Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, award-winning author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate. His books can be found at Chapters, Coles and Sunworks in Red Deer.

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