Dancing Through Downtown

Carrie stopped suddenly as we walked into the club a couple of nights ago, a perplexed look on her face.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I don’t know.  Something’s just different about the place tonight.”

Sherri Ross, left, is the driving force behind the Birmingham Dance Walk events. She led the first outing last June while accompanied by Jennifers Dome and Howell and Shilpa Reddy.

A high-pitched peal of laughter came from the direction of the lounge.

I sighed.  “Sherri Ross is in the house.”

“You know that from the laughter?”

“The laughter only confirms it.  Nobody has ever accused Sherri of being quiet and reserved.  But as you noticed just now, an establishment gives off a certain unmistakable vibe while it is being rossed.”

Carrie laughed as she took my arm and we navigated to the lounge, which was bustling.  I’m always gratified to see the place like this, full of motion and the sound of conversation, most of which was drowned out by Sherri holding court at her table over a plate of broiled scallops with Brussels sprouts and a Kir Royale.

Karri Bentley and Jennifer Howell were among the enthusiastic participants in the first Birmingham Dance Walk last June.

I waved to Mandy Shunnarah at the bar, but she was too transfixed while watching Baxter make a Screaming Viking to notice.  The bartender glanced up and nodded my way while slicing a bruised cucumber with a knife held at a precise 43-degree angle.  Forty-two or 44 degrees will render the beverage nonpotable, Baxter contends.

On the bandstand, Mandi Rae and Westover Water were setting up for their first set.  Chloe Carstairs chatted with Alden SpeakeAndrew Sims, Devon Laney, and Rickey White were laughing nearby.  Emsworth delivered two gluten-free entrees to the table where Kelly Burns and Katie Rogers were talking botany.

Carrie and I took seats at the bar, planning to order once Baxter finished his performance for Mandy.  We had allowed ourselves to become engrossed in the show when a delighted squeal immediately behind us drew our attention back toward the room.

“I am so glad to see you guys!” Sherri said as she squeezed both of us into a hug.  “Are you coming to the dance walk Saturday?”

Scott Pierce carries the dance walkers' music while rocking a vintage 1982 World's Fair t-shirt.

“That will be our endeavor,” I replied.  “How are the plans coming?”

“Everything’s almost together.  The prep work is tedious, but it’s fun, and we’re excited about getting people there.”

An irrepressible extrovert, Sherri may be Birmingham’s most enthusiastic cheerleader.  She organized the Magic City’s first dance walk last June for no reason other than she thought it would be fun and followed it with a sequel in October.  Railroad Park hosted those, but Saturday’s event is set for 1 p.m. in downtown’s loft district on Second Avenue North, likely starting at Urban Standard.

“Did you come up with the idea yourself?” Carrie asked.

“No, it started with a TV anchor out of New York,” Sherri answered.  “He saw this guy strutting his stuff down the street, and that gave him the idea.  Everybody walks, and dancing is one of everybody’s favorite things, so he put them together and had the first dance walk.  It went viral, and people started doing them all over the place.  I don’t know how many cities sustain them, but I want ours to keep going.”

“Anything special planned for this one?” I asked.

“Not really,” Sherri said with a shrug.  “This time we will stop in certain places and just dance – that was Jennifer’s idea.  Oh, and the sweet and beautiful Melissa of Sojourns Fair Trade has offered to have fresh fruit and hot herbal tea waiting for us at her shop on Third when we’re done!  Isn’t that sweet of her?”

“Indeed it is.  What do you know about the rumors floating around that some sort of dragon will be appearing at the dance walk?”

Sherri wrinkled her nose and winked.  “I can’t confirm or deny anything about that.  Say, where is Millicent tonight?  I wanted to make sure she knows about the dance walk.”

“She’s off tonight, on a date with a lawyer.  Steve.”

“Ooooooo.  Good for her.  Steve…anybody we know?

“I don’t think so.  I haven’t met the guy myself.  Interesting story, though, from what Currie told me.  Apparently Wade Smith and Sarah Miller came in the other night wearing some kind of unconventional headgear and refused to check it with Millicent.  She insisted, Wade got upset, and he started carrying on about how she would have to face his primal fury, or something like that.

“He made a phone call, and this character Steve showed up, Currie said, making all sorts of veiled threats about what would happen if Millicent didn’t stop harassing his client.  She suggested they discuss the matter over drinks, Steve told Wade and Sarah to grow up and give Millicent their caps, and he’s taking her out tonight.”

No rules, just dancing and walking.

“Sweet!” Sherri said.  “When you see her, tell her to bring Steve to the dance walk.  We’ll all dance through downtown together!”

As the Duchess of Birmingham left us to join Amanda Garvich-Cook and Paula Reid, Mandy placed an empty glass on the bar.  “Bloody Mary,” she said to Baxter.

“You’re chasing a Screaming Viking with a Bloody Mary?” Carrie asked her.

“Sure.  This way I get my healthy serving of vegetables.”



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