The Chicken Box
NO, this is not a purveyor of chicken nuggets - It's a dive to celebrate the passage of rites from youth into adulthood
Copyright Vladimir Kagan, August 18, 2013
The Box, as it is and as it's always been
The generation gap is never more evident than a night spent at the Chicken Box. OMG! The music booms, the floor shakes and your head is bursting with the electronic vibrations that pulsate within this enclosed wooden box. For the uninitiated, it is a living hell; for the hordes of youngsters who gravitate to it nightly, it is bliss. They jump and gyrate to the electronic vibrations... When I first went to the Box fifty years ago, it had dirt floors, today they are wood, then it reeked of stale tobacco smoke, today it is saved by the strictly enforced none smoking rules. Miraculously, the Box has survived unscathed all these years. It has weaned my children and their children from teeny-bobbing youngsters into responsible adulthood.
The ferocious bouncer at the door carefully cards every entrant for their I.D.s (surprisingly, I passed through without difficulty.) Each lovely young nymphet is obliged to produces a picture I.D. Much to the dismay of the guardians of the door, a few of these lithe young creatures and their dates are teenagers in disguise! I know because all of my now grown-up kids snuck in with them! (The fake I.D. business still thrives!) - In addition to a hefty admission charge, the "Box" makes its money selling alcohol to its patrons. (It is an antiquated law that mandates drinking establishments can only serve booze to patrons 21 or older. None-the-less they can vote at 18 and die in our wars long before they are allowed to drink! The upside to this is that there are fewer DUI deaths than there used to be.)
Setting foot into this madhouse you are swallowed-up into a throbbing, pulsating thunder that only the young recognize as music. The lyrics are nonexistent or rapper chants that need translating into understandable sound bytes. The floor jumps under foot; it feels like walking on a rubber raft in a wavy ocean.
We were treated as VIPs by management, as my hostess is an aficionado of the music and a frequent patron of the establishment. The gyrating strobe lights were blinding and had the effect of the floor dropping out from under you. Conversation is nonexistent. (It took some eighty years for my hearing to be impaired... this generation will suffer with this predicament much, much sooner.) As conversation is impossible, all you can do is gyrate and drink. The latter is welcome music to the club's owners.
Floyd Kellogg with his bass guitar, doing a gig at the Box.
We entered the Box to canned music served up by an invisible disc jockey. However, shortly thereafter, the lights briefly dimmed, a huge thunderclap exploded, which announces the onslaught of the live band. Four people inhabit the stage, now bursting with pulsating strobe lights. The musicians are a rag-tag assemblage of disheveled young men. (Not visible, are the sound-mixers hiding behind their battery of switches, knobs, and flashing LED lights.)
Let the fun begin! The audience responds enthusiastically with clapping, screaming and bouncing. This is the signal for the band to do their stuff. In this kind of musical venue, the pianist is referred to as the Keyboarder. He stands hunched over his instrument, there is no resemblance to a piano as he hovers over his board like Wizard in the Wizard of Oz - this is his domain. A few notes later, (one can hardly call them a tune,) he jumps to his feet and frantically dashes all over the stage in search of a microphone. Once found, he howls into it with unintelligible words, (though I was told that they are rapper lyrics). The dancers go wild - now it is the lead guitarist, like a monkey on a leash, he lets loose his un-earthly sounds from an electric guitar and dashes back and forth over the little stage, gyrating up - down - sideways, beating the floor, the rafters and his poor instrument. The drummer all the while sets off huge electric booms that resonate throughout the room… It is bedlam! It is worthy to note that while the folks on the dance floor go happily deaf, the bands defends itself against their own racket by wearing earphones and earplugs!
The couples on the dance floor (they are not all couples in the traditional sense: girls with girls, solo dancers and eccentrics doing their own thing) are all mesmerized by the beat. It is unfair to use the word "dance" to describe the motion on the floor. Bodies move like Zombies to an unearthly sound. There is no passion to their dance... there are no words to coo into a partner’s ear, it is just a frenetic gyration... each participant letting off steam... (Ah, how I wished at that moment to be back with my Coc au Vin band whose Gypsy tunes inspired passionate dancing.)
Our raison d’être for being at the Box that evening was to "enjoy" Floyd Kellogg, the bass guitarist, whom I had met under quite different circumstances on a Whale watch in the Atlantic Ocean. Floyd is a charming handsome young man, self-effacing, who, just a week earlier was playing an acoustic guitar with my favorite band. He is a gifted musician, playing different gigs with many local bands. I was saddened to see this talented young man going wild.... But then again... I am an old codger! Who am I to criticize?