But I'm here to tell you about something else. B and I spent this past weekend in Pennsylvania visiting her family. We decided to stop off and spend a day in Philadelphia on the way home. We toured through a couple of neighborhoods, including Fishtown where we had lunch at a coffee emporium called La Colombe.
It turns out La Colombe is a small chain -- there are other restaurants in New York, Washington and Chicago -- but this one is housed in an old factory building, with ceilings about 30 feet high. Most of the diners were 20-something hipsters -- the only ones over 30, besides us, were a few women with long, gray tangled hair wearing flowing cotton dresses, and guys in jeans sporting bald spots and gray ponytails.
We stayed at a Doubletree, right downtown, and were headed out to our usual sedate, mid-priced dinner when we saw, across the street at the Philadelphia Academy of Music, there was a show called So You Think You Can Dance.
"It's a TV show, right?" I said to B.
"Yeah, kind of like American Idol, except it's dancing," she offered.
So you know we'd never seen this show; didn't know anything about it. The show is not to be confused with Dancing with the Stars, which we have seen a few times.
Now, B and I do go dancing sometimes. We take ballroom lessons through adult education at our middle school. Our class consists of six gray-haired couples. About once a month we go to a dance at the American Legion. It's all very mild and proper.
Anyway, we're standing on Broad Street in Philadelphia and I looked at B, and she looked at me, and then, as if by mutual understanding, we acted on a whim and stepped inside, just to see if there were any tickets available. And sure enough, we soon found ourselves in Row E, waiting for the action to begin, hoping that we didn't do something stupid and waste our money.
This was completely uncharacteristic for us. We go to restaurants, movies and events where the other people, as we joke, are "in our demographic." But the people here were not over 60, like us. Most were under 40, many of them under 20.
Now maybe some of you have followed So You Think You Can Dance on TV. The show just finished its 12th season. But we had no idea what to expect. Still, we couldn't help getting a little excited, because the Academy of Music holds 2,500 people, and it was full of enthusiastic, sometimes screaming fans. The music started and it was LOUD. But we got used to it, and we were charmed by the young men and women who came leaping and jumping and flying across the stage.
We both liked Hailee Payne, a bleached-blonde Miley Cyrus look-alike who could do amazing things with her body. I liked Ja Ja, who looked like a cute girl-next-door type; but actually her background is the street, not the stage -- hip hop, not ballet.
This is the live show that is touring the country, after the TV show finished up its contest in September. A young woman named Gaby Diaz was the winner. She did an impressive solo tap dance on the Philadelphia stage, along with all the other acrobatic routines.
But it was a young man named Virgil Gadson who stole the show. He could dance with the best of them; he had a winning smile and his personality jumped off the stage. Virgil was the one who consistently got the most audience reaction. I was going to say applause. But applause was the least of it -- there was cheering, whistling, laughing, screaming.
It was only after the show, as we all stood up to leave, that a man in the row behind us turned to the middle-age couple next to him and asked if they knew Virgil. Apparently their cheering had given them away. The woman replied that, yes, they were his parents. You must be so proud of him, I ventured. And they nodded, their broad grins widening even more.
So we had a memorable time in Philadelphia, just because we took a chance and decided to do something we don't usually do, something beyond our comfort zone.
This is not necessarily to recommend you run off to see So You Think You Can Dance. Just to go out and do something different for a change. Go ahead, take a little chance. You might like it.
Here are Virgil and Ja Ja.