Dancing in the moonlight

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_D5C5045brianby Brian Clarey

The moon made itself known before the sun had even set: a strong orange disc in the southern sky, beckoning over the meager downtown cityscape.

I saw it from Battleground Avenue after crashing Ryan Saunders’ party at Gate City Growlers, where he was drumming up business for his HopFest — which is as much about urban awareness and cultural cachet as it is about beer and music.

It’s a buckshot approach to progress in the Triad, with notions like grassroots entrepreneurship and artistic democracy all wound up with dance parties and public transportation.

Not everyone is as enamored with Saunders as he is himself — “I’ve been pissing some people off lately,” he told me sheepishly — but hey: It doesn’t really matter what they’re saying about you, as long as they’re talking about you, amirite?

Earlier in the evening I sat in the back of a space at the Weatherspoon Art Museum while my old friend Harvey Robinson and his partner Carolyn de Berry talked about the creative process.

A clip from his documentary about the artist Leonardo Drew, due out later this year, raised the hairs on my arm with its insight and poignancy.

Harvey and I were young when we met, young enough that our real lives had not yet begun, and dumb enough to think we were getting old. We were just a couple of waiters on Tate Street, before I had gotten my first newspaper gig in town and Harv went off to film school, with nothing but vague plans and no clue how much work it would take to get there.

It takes 15 years to become an overnight sensation, you know.

On Battleground Avenue, as that magnificent moon hung like a lantern in the twilight, music writer Ryan Snyder fast-talked me into heading back downtown for Dance From Above, the monthly dance party he throws with a few friends that emanates from the top of the Carolina Theatre.

Up in the Crown, before all the women showed up, old-school funk from the likes of James Brown and Shorty Long played to a roomful of dudes not so patiently waiting for the next thing to happen.

I ghosted after the second DJ began painting the bricks with electric noise, early for the young folk but more than enough excitement for me. By the time I got outside, storm clouds had obscured the moonlight and lightning flashed in the night sky.