THE GIN MILL

When I was in college, my bff Sara and I haunted the local dive… which was literally underground and aptly named The Cellar.  Our undergraduate budgets didn’t allow for lavish evening entertainment, so we made do with 25-cent beers and double-bubble nights, swilling well-gin cocktails until we were sufficiently hammered to tolerate the throngs of disco divas at the local club across the street.

Not much stood in our way of a good time.  We trekked out in sub-zero temperatures in platform shoes and skin-tight jeans, daring any passerby to thwart our quest for fun.  There wasn’t much to be had of it, especially in the middle of the Illinois cornbelt, but what little we found we maximized.

It usually involved ridiculing the spandex-clad and, in my case, slamdancing into the carefully coiffed Farrah Fawcetts, sending their scrawny glitter bodies careening across the dance floor.  What do you mean we had to listen to KC and the fucking Sunshine Band?  Only occasionally would the dj relent and play some homogenized punk music, most of which would send the dancers off the the floor to stare in resentment while I pogoed.

Sara was more diplomatic.  She danced to all variety of music, swaying with her cocktail in hand and her giant 70’s perm bouncing in time under the disco ball.  By the evening’s end, there was usually a line of drooling men waiting to escort her home.  Unless the gentleman was exceptionally hot, she graciously declined the offers with the explanation that she had to get her unruly friend back to the dorm before she caused any serious harm.

But that was only an excuse to get away from the dreary ISU hangouts and head into Bloomington where our rock and roll Mecca waited for us.  Otherwise known as the Red Lion Inn, it was a dingy nightclub frequented by local and quasi-national bands and the scene of many a howling night’s fun.  There were no disco dancers, light shows or coke spoons, although the smell of reefer did on occasion waft from the ladies’ room.

Here we were free to dance as we pleased until the overhead lights were switched on and we remembered we weren’t as free as we surmised.  There were classes to attend in the morning and papers to write in the evening.  We left grudgingly in the early morning light, accompanied by the twitter of birds which we quickly came to resent.  Why did they have to herald the end of our night of fun?  Morning came too quickly.

… prompting the men to act too boldly.  Again they fluttered around Sara, this time begging to take not only her home to their bed, but her unruly friend as well.

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8 Responses to “THE GIN MILL”

  1. Very amusing Kimmie . I now see you under a different light . xx

  2. It was tough crossing from the Poison Apple to the Red Lion, the dress codes were radically different then. But I have no doubt you were gleeful in the slam dancing motions.

  3. I actually saw REO Speedwagon at “The Red Lion” in Champaign in 1975….reading your story brought back great memories of “Rockin” out !

    Thanks Kimmie !

    • We saw some excellent bands in the Bloomington RL: Tantrum, Boyzz from Illinoizz, Eargasm… Some were good, others forgettable. The Lazy J Saloon was a good spot for music, too. I saw Ruby Starr there. She was amazing. She performed cartwheels onstage… in a miniskirt, no less. 😀

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