That Time I Went Clubbing In Sweatpants
My officer thought it would be a good idea to cap off ‘shavua sadach’- an interesting week of seminars, lectures, and forums designed to allow us to think out loud about our place and purpose as IDF soldiers- by having an erev machlaka, an opportunity for us to hang out in a setting that isn’t under the flaps of a tent or at the foot of a mountain.
We’re all for it.
At 7 pm (we were supposed to leave at three but, you know, the army) we hop on a coach bus to Binyamina to, as someone who claims to have been there purports, “this place that’s mad chill and has great food.” But between everyone screaming along to David Guetta blasting through the speakers, guys busting dance moves in the aisles, others playing with the blue lights over the seats- effectively turning the bus into a mobile Givati rager- and the bus driver YELLING, as if the phone itself couldn’t hear him, about something Israeli, I realize I didn’t bring clothing or at least something that could pass off as socially appropriate for this supposed place we’re going to.
What I do have: Asics running sneakers, a white knitted shabbat kippa, baggy black Adidas sweatpants, and a navy two-sizes-too-big GAP sweatshirt that I’ve slept in all week.
This isn’t my first wardrobe malfunction- as evidenced by my gibush tznachanim interview– so I’m hoping this situation will work out like that one: no one’s going to say anything, not even look at my outfit twice.
At 9 pm we pull into the parking lot and because it’s Israel and we’re soldiers and we can get away with it, everyone simply drops their bags and starts changing in the middle of the entrance courtyard where people are chatting and mulling over cocktails.
“You guys can also use my office to change if you need” the manager tells us. “There’s also room for your bags next to my desk.”
Only in Israel.
Remember four paragraphs ago when I thought I’d get away with looking like a Jewish day school 5th grader arriving at a sleepover party? R u kidding? Of course everyone starts getting in on the rippage.
Yakir: Hey Meir, going for a run around the parking lot?
Dudi: Haha, so THIS is how people go out in America.
Shifron: Don’t ever say anything again about Israeli style. Ever.
After everyone changes into shirts and pants and other socially acceptable outfits, I head inside and legit can’t determine what or where I just walked into. It’s like a bar/dance club/ bat mitzva hall/ restaurant all in one. There’s a neon-lighted bar in the back adjoining a huge dance floor with tables lining the opposite side of the room, half of them occupied by a bunch of middle-aged after-work adults all lined up and watching a projector, indirectly directing their attention to some woman wearing a crown sitting at their helm. On a stage behind the projector is some snakeskin-shoed, I-most-likely-wink-creepily-at-people-I-don’t-know, ponytailed mediterranean hipster type passionately plucking a mandolin to a birthday montage of some woman named Danit, (probs crown lady) the pictures aptly portraying her evolvement from sabra adolescent to Israeli tiger mom, the gathered (prob her friends and family), laughing, awwww-ing, and eizeh chamuda! -ing in concert.
We were originally told we would have the place to ourselves but now the birthday party is running late. Late like they haven’t even brought out the cake, late… or haven’t even started to make themselves tired enough by dancing that they felt like it was time to start eating it, late.
The tables reserved for us are awesomely stacked with sephardic grandmother specialties- kibbeh, cigars, amba-glazed vegetables, matbucha- the whole deal. But as soon as we start digging in the house music starts blasting and the Danit crew starts dancing.
I just want you to appreciate the absurdity of this moment: I’m seated in a multipurpose simcha club eatery, morrocan cigar in-mouth, dressed like I’m about to go pick up milk from the supermarket at midnight, while a gang of chummus dipping baby boomers are currently lifting up a crowned woman on a chair whom I’ve never met and whose upbringing I just visually experienced and whose birthday I’m apparently and incidentally crashing.
What to do…
Do we stay in our seats and keep eating cuz we’re clearly not part of the party? Or do we ridicule in the ridiculousness and become the party?
Naturally we all jump onto the dance floor and jumping up and down with the rest of them. Guys are singing along, I’m busting shomer negiah dance moves with myself, and Danit’s dance crew, and Danit, are loving it.
“OH YOU’RE ALL SO CUTE, I HAVE A VERY BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER I WANT TO SET UP WITH ONE OF YOU GUYS” says one mom.
“WE’RE IN KRAVI WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR GIRLFRIENDS!!!” We laughingly yell back.
“YALLAH KULAM MECHIOT KAPAYIM L’DANIT!!!!” Booms the DJ.
“YOM HULEDET SAMEACH L’DANIT!!!!! WHOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” We all chime in.
But all this balbeli oto-ing has distracted me from the time and I realize that if I don’t leave very soon I’m going to be stuck hallely-ing with these people all night long.
Hitching a ride from a friend’s dad I thankfully make it in time for the last train home. Sitting on the train I can’t help but start cracking up cuz I still can’t get over what just happened. It was so ridiculous. It was so hilarious. It could only happen here.