Winter, 2002, Davio’s in The Biltmore. Buddy and his constituents holding court, heavy handed drinks, people with an easy laugh, money in their pockets, a scam in the works. It seemed like everybody was getting laid and actually enjoying it. Brown University Professeurs, seeking tenure but completely confident of their future sipped champagne cocktails in the love seats and requested songs with suggestive lyrics. The Davio’s management, happy with the flow of money into their cash register, let the evening unfold without comment. The gays and straights and rich and bohemian and uptights and East sider and West siders crushed together in a frenzy of freedom from the Same Old. It was a true Cabaret room where all castes congregated, sharing bad jokes, sing-a-longs and lousy nachos. The young and beautiful students. the Brown intellectuals, the tourists, groups staying at the hotel for a conference — Turf Masters of America, a Mortician Convention — dull herds of men from Milwaukee and Baltimore pressing against the local Madonna-Wanna tarts of North Providence, and Voila, it’s Christmas week and Davio’s has decorated the front windows with fake mistletoe and an electric Santa and Mrs. Santa, who girate randomly until I readjust them for slow dancing and suddenly, Mr and Mrs. Santa are fornicating on the stage. The crowd absorbs the peculiarity and is amused. Nobody makes a move to separate the electric Christmas couple. The night heats up with more jazz swing tunes, heaps of snow pile up against the windows behind the stage, cars in the street are stranded in sleet. They double park and come into the room for a drink, welcomed with cheers, handed half empty beer mugs.
Buddy comes to the stage to sing a tune. He is Providence, he makes Providence breath and Providence is LIVING and breathing, a shuffling city of neighbors connecting on a frigid night for the sake of the city itself. It is a City after all. Near the stage, the loveseats are heavy with human potential for misbehavior. Bizarre combinations of people are sitting on this and that lap, drinks are lapping against glass rims, women are belly dancing, men in Armani and Penney’s suits are swapping cigars, the heat of the room is a hunger smelling of raunchy perfume and rare steaks. People are eating with their fingers. The snow is a white out, the windows steamy, the room is a winter womb.
I remember those performances lovingly. I was given permission to instigate jovility. Buddy had encouraged it, the city craved it –until the Davio’s big wigs shut the party down and since then, since the “Fire” new rules and regulations have discouraged clubs and restaurants from hiring live entertainment but I will never forget the many nights I connected with each and every pair of eyes in the crowd. They were happy, if only for the moment. They are still here, unhappy again and burdoned with seriousness. Why can’t we have fun again?