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Anybody who’s ever said that Palm Coast is a boring retirement town with nothing to do and zero nightlife (and I’ve never personally made these claims, of course …), wasn’t at the European Village last Friday night.
Ogling an older man dancing solo in the courtyard, it became clear to me that word had gotten out about the city’s free quarterly concert series. Even with units still empty in the complex, the place was packed. There was no parking. Caribbean Posse performed. Flagler Spirits’ owner Jimmy Day set up a table outside Farley’s, making shots and conversation.
European Village last weekend was what the city dreamed it would be when the plaza opened: a gathering point, crowded and loud and truly alive.
As the night went on, the older dancer kept dancing, for what felt like hours, right beside our table. He was a beast, grooving fast, his limbs flailing outside the holes in his smock t-shirt and tiny shorts.
Although I have no idea what the cucaracha actually is, I was positive this guy was its master.
“He has more confidence in his legs than I do!” Zoe joked, and right behind her, a Haitian man worked his hips and hands, completely stone-faced, intense, as if he were demonstrating to all us scrubs just exactly how it’s done.
“You see,” I said, pointing around me. “I’ll never in my life have as much fun as these people are having right now.”
And I was only partially kidding. When I dance, it’s a forced kind of spontaneity. I have every aspect of my “letting loose” planned out: how I’ll lead with a little shake-a-leg action and the second I’ll transition into the sprinkler or the moonwalk or the robot.
On the rare occasion that I step onto a dance floor, I do it for no other reason than because I understand that this is what normal people do for fun. It’s like getting your vegetables out of the way so you can have dessert — which, for me in this case, is sitting at a table near the back, making snarky observations about people less neurotic than myself.
But last week at the Village, no one seemed to care what they were “supposed” to do. Instead, they cared that it was Friday night, and that the band was killing it. They cared that people had finally found a spot in town to congregate, and that none of them were talking about the economy or taxes or elections or work.
As for the short-shorts guy, he’d started a revolution. The place was like Friday Night Fever. And you had to respect all of the dancers’ lack of reserve.
When the band finished up, the frontman yelled, “Thank you, Palm Coast!” as if he just closed a set in some massive rock arena, somewhere majestic, in a city where people are passionate and the concept of Friday night really stands for something. And as echoes reverberated off the balconies and cobblestone in that little courtyard, nestled inside this quiet, no-fun, little city, it was kind of weird. That’s what it was. The guy was a rock god.
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