I try to get Ames and Mauro to join in a bike ride with my friend Sam Dryden, but there are some late risers. So just Tracy and I follow Sam up the canyon created by Boulder Creek (I guess), then head up Poorman. We climb a steep, unpaved road that allows us a view of snowcapped peaks by the continental divide and, below, the plains of Boulder. Tracy and I end up walking our bikes up the last stretch — we do have a show later.
The show is at a Chautauqua, a great, big, barn-like structure that is a remnant of a movement that peaked in the early 20th century. Apparently, the movement — once a circuit of 12,000(!) mostly rural venues — was a way for far-flung settlements across the country to catch up on "culture." Speakers, dance companies, musical groups, lecturers, and vaguely edifying entertainments made the rounds; it was hugely successful. The public thirst for "culture" translated as a means to better oneself — an expression of Protestant and Victorian values that still inform the world of the arts. (It's pretty common to think that that arts and culture — high culture, not skateboarding — are good for you, edifying, enriching.)
I personally don't subscribe to this idea. I don't think the arts makes one a better person at all — maybe a better bullshitter. Everyone knows that a Harvard grad can be just as crooked as a toothless lout in a West Virginia holler. All that education doesn't make one a better person.
But I digress. Most of the circuit consisted of tents — one for the main hall, and smaller ones for dining and lodging. In a way these were like month-long rock festivals. In this Boulder edition, there were permanent structures, a beautiful community hall, dining hall, and a whole community of cabins for the temporary residents to says in.
Todd usually goes over security issues with the local staff before shows. This often includes negotiating how much dancing in the aisles will be allowed, when, and at what point in the set. It works amazingly well, most nights, as it tends to short-circuit the natural tendency of security, the promoters, and theater owners to exert too much control. We let them know we are concerned with safety and fire codes, but want to find a way for the audience members to express themselves.
Tonight, Todd calmly says that by the 6th song or so, they should expect the audience to be getting up and dancing. The promoter is shocked, and counters that people in this venue really don't dance. It's not prohibited, it's just not what happens here. He seems absolutely certain that the audience will remain seated.
Todd bets him $200 that the entire audience will be up by song 7 (I think — I might have the number wrong). The promoter immediately and confidently accepts.
The show begins, and sure enough, by the 7th song Todd walks over to the promoter, who silently hands him the money.