On my way in, I pass a group of stoners heading out. There's a predictable number of tie-dye-wearing longhairs spinning out on the dance floor, but there's also a fair turnout of white-collar, beeper-on-the-belt types nodding their heads at the tables. I get a drink and sit down.
Up onstage are three guitarists (one of them barefoot), a keyboard player, and two drummers, one behind a kit, the other playing congas. They groove from a Bob Marley song to Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane" and then play three Grateful Dead tunes. No pause, no "between songs" patter just a layered stream of improvisational groove.
An old friend appears, and we chat for a bit. She gets up to dance; I look around and sip a yummy Leopold raspberry thingy. When she returns, I ask how long she's been coming. She thinks for a minute and says, "Since Steve had parties at his house and they'd play in the basement." How long ago was that? "Oh, shit." She leans both palms against the table and puts her head down to think. "Ten years."
Wow. These guys have been together for ten years? No, she says. Different members come and go and then she's off to the dance floor, catching a hug on the way. As I drink more of my raspberry thingy, another friend comes by, surprised to see me. I'm surprised, too, by the number of people I know here folks I don't run into nearly enough. And they ain't all hippies, either.