Wednesday Night Hop, July 3, 2019

I like my bike. Since I moved to California a year ago, my bike has been my car, and I use it for everything, from commuting to grocery shopping to going swing dancing. I often use Google Maps to navigate and estimate the length of various rides around Sacramento. And so, when Google Maps assured me that it would only take an hour and twelve minutes to bike from the Amtrak station in Santa Clara to the venue for Wednesday Night Hop in Palo Alto, I assumed that it was, you know, not lying to me.

I was wrong.

Pushing my pedals along the San Francisco Bay Trail, I encountered a headwind coming out of the west that was so strong, it slowed my usual rapid pace to what felt like two miles an hour. The predicted hour and twelve minutes stretched out into nearly two hours, mostly on unpaved gravel and dirt. My mouth was parched from the salty air. My quads ached. I had no idea how I was going to dance a single song once I finally arrived at the venue. But I had a lovely view of the Bay, bathed in the golden light of the sunset, and I saw all kinds of seagulls and ducks and flowers and even a rabbit that ran along the trail ahead of me…so I guess it wasn’t totally miserable.

The band, the Oakland Strutters, sounded great and especially excelled a maintaining a peppy energy in the room, which I tried to match with a few of my favorite pick-me-up tunes. These included “Blue Rhythm Be-Bop” by Van Alexander, “Crazy About Lester,” a Michael Gamble tune where the sax section carries an addictive melody, and “The Right Idea” by Charlie Barnet, which has both a driving rhythm and some epic solos – a winning combination in my book.

I did somehow find the energy to dance all night, and I had a blast. The people at Wednesday Night Hop are welcoming, joyful, and always ask if I would like to lead or follow, which is a testament to Doug and Lori’s good work there. It makes me excited to come back and visit soon!

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