Saturday, September 17, 2016

Montana Woodstock: Billings and Red Lodge

I'm in Billings for three nights. The first night was just for sleeping. I drove in from South Dakota and caught some National Parks and things on the way in, so it was a late arrival. I chilled with some Domino's pizza in front of the TV.

My sloth continued through most of the next day, when I called off the housekeepers and holed up in bed, watching random TV shows and taking River out on a few walks. We particularly like the Montana convention center, right next door. It's either a very low quality convention center or it hasn't been used in years. In either case, the overgrown parking lot offers plenty of things to pee on and sniff at, and even an occasional rabbit to chase.

As the day wore on, I got hungry and drove downtown to get a burger at The Burger Dive. I saw online that it had won some Best Of... award, so I felt confident it wouldn't suck. Find out if I was right. 

After I ate, I fed River in the convention center parking lot and then I took a shower to get ready for my first of two Montana Woodstock Experiences.

The first was Thursday night in Billings.

I drove right by the place at first. From the outside it looks just like another house in the residential neighborhood. Were it not for the hippie in the doorway, I wouldn't have known to drive around the block and take another shot at parking in front.

We were in a belly dancing studio with lots of light coming in from big windows. And lots of middle eastern belly dancing decor.

It was one of the less 'free-dancey' of the communities I've visited.  I set the focus on FreeDance, and explained that my silent method of cuing was meant to inspire each person to do their own thing. But right away they fell into line and mimicked me. Some places that I visit, it takes the class through the whole first song and part of the second to even pay attention to me. Different groups have different movement cultures; some more free and some less so. Eventually, I felt the room buzzing with the spirit of FreeDance and we were transported to the farm in 1969.  And the choreography I have put together is super fun, so it wasn't like it wasn't a good class. It was awesome, and I love to be in all of the different cultures with my work. 

 It looks like I'm in a class room, but the room actually looked more like the inside of an Arabian tent. 

I spent most of Friday lounging around. I did some laundry, but I couldn't do it on the property I was staying in due to a malfunctioning door. So they told me I could go to the Motel 6 across the street and use theirs. 

I packed up the car and drove across the street. River and I played on the big lawn while we waited for the wash. At one point, I drove to Natural Grocers and restocked on coffee and water, and I picked up some beef jerky for car snacking in the middle of nowhere.

The first time through, the dryer didn't completely dry my clothes, so I had to put them in for another cycle. The cycles were only $1 each, the cheapest I've ever seen.

The drive to Red Lodge, for my class this evening, was about an hour. Time got away from me, and I left with only about a 15 minutes cushion. And as bad luck would have it, I took a wrong turn that sent me WAY out of my way, and took me about 15 minutes to recover. 

So by now, my Nav was telling me I was expected to arrive at exactly 6pm.  Which is late in my book.  That doesn't include parking and setting up River, so I put the pedal to the metal and actually went about ten miles per hour over the speed limit as much as I could. 

So I gained about ten minutes using this method and arrived in plenty of time to park, chat, get set up and chat some more.

The Red Lodge community was so talkative that I couldn't get them to be quiet long enough for me to set the focus. I didn't fight it, I just got through my spiel and started dancing. I may have overcompensated for the button-down Billings crowd and put the fear of God into this group regarding following me too closely. A few songs went by before anyone was doing any of my movements. Which is fine. But so interesting how differently different groups respond.

At the end, it was a unanimous good time. Two people were brand new to Nia and I explained that usually the class offers much more structure. But they both agreed that the FreeDancing experience was perfect. We were transported.

I was going to stop and get a burger at a place across the street that got great reviews, but when I went by, I saw that it was a bar, and I lost my appetite. I just drove back to Billings, where I was staying for the night.

In Billings, I stopped at Fuddruckers. I used to frequent the place when I lived in Ventura, CA. They claim to have the World's Greatest Hamburger.  But I beg to differ. I'll write more about it when I blog about it, and when it's up, I'll post a link to it here. 


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