Friday, April 27, 2012

American Fun, The Stompers

by Dick Mac

1978 was a banner year for music in my life.  Sure, there had been years when more songs, better sings were released; but this was the year I became a regular visitor to clubs.  Not discotheques, clubs that showcased local musicians.  For a couple of years I spent my free time and all my money going out to see bands.

I had returned Boston, living in Mission Hill, and visiting clubs like The Rat, Cantone's, Streets, Sp()ce, and others.  I got to know which local bands I liked and which I liked even more.  Some might tell you that I wouldn't know a good band if I saw one.  I liked all the bands, some more than others.  And I liked flirting with the musicians -- some more than others.

As an evening would progress, and the bourbon would take more of a hold on me, I would become bolder and more brazen (yes, like a hussy).

It was a pretty wild scene and there wasn't much animosity towards homosexuals.  I wouldn't call the punk movement a bastion of gay liberation; but you could be queer and not be chased out of the shows.

One night, I was particularly drunk.  Not falling down and not puking, but borderline obnoxious.  I knew, or was acquainted with, many of the people in attendance at a private party in a recording studio.  There had been a big show somewhere, possibly a theater and not a club, and a number of bands had played, and we all ended-up at this party in the nether-reaches of Cambridge.

I introduced myself to a guy around my age, in his early twenties, good-looking, laughing and mingling.  He had big rock star hair and a leather jacket.  The music was loud, but not nightclub loud, and we could talk.  He was a bit stand-offish, but not rude, and the conversation was jovial.  We chatted with a couple of people he knew and a couple of people I knew and everything seemed fine.

People started dancing.  A song I liked came on and I asked him if he wanted to dance.

I was used to being in social situations where it was not unusual to see two men together.  Many of the people I met on the scene were bisexual and the exclusively straight guys were generally unmoved by other people's sexual orientation.

When he asked me to repeat what I'd said, I asked him again if he wanted to dance.

Wrong question!

He got really angry and asked (yelled at me) "what do you think I'm a queer?"

"No," I said, matter-of-factly.  What  I didn't tell him was that if I thought he was a queer I wouldn't be flirting with him because his being straight (or bi-) made the proposition much more exciting.

Things seemed to be escalating into a hostile, possibly violent situation, rapidly.  His friends started moving around us as if they were sizing me up, and the guy I had been flirting with was now screaming at me.  I knew I could hold my own if he started swinging, but if the three of them jumped me I was going to be in trouble.

I was plotting my defense and my first shot when a hand touched my shoulder pulling me gently but firmly backwards away, and the owner of the hand stepped between us.  He said something briefly to the other guys that quieted them down.

He and I walked in the opposite direction.  I don't remember what he said to me, but he just saved me from possibly having to fight three guys, and I was very happy and grateful.  He was nice, and he was kind, and the upshot of his instructions to me was that I should stay away from those guys.

I did.

The guy who rescued me was Sal Baglio, lead singer of The Stompers, who had performed at the show earlier.  I don't know if he cared one way or another about the cause of the conflict, or if he knew the three guys; I just know he defused a potentially bad situation.  I often wonder if he remembers the incident.

I made my way to a different part of the party and I never spoke to him again.  Ever.  And I only ever saw him when The Stompers played.  We never had another interaction again, but he made an impression on me that I have never forgotten.

I was a fan of The Stompers before that night, and then I become am a bigger fan!

I have always loved this song:

The Stompers Official Site

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