Hal Wastes His Wages Swan Lake

“Hey Hal – ya wanna head down to the bar tonight and watch the Yankee game?””No way, man – I got tickets to Swan Lake, baby!!! WOO-HOOOOO!”

(High fives and chest bumps exchanged.)

Of course you’d immediately assume that the girlfriend dragged me to the Metropolitan Opera House to see the American Ballet Theatre’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s beloved masterpiece, but in all honesty I was actually pretty excited about it myself. As much as I deserve to be pigeonholed as some plebian palooka who pubcrawls his way around Hoboken, every now and then I enjoy crossing the bridge or going through the tunnel to partake in more patrician pursuits. In other words, I dig the ballet.

You’ve got to respect the precise talent and unfathomable devotion it takes to become a ballet dancer. And if you’re impressed by a well-executed 4-6-3 double play or a pro-right tight-end pass, then you’ll be amazed by the tightness and skill exhibited on stage by these dancers. And I’m not talking about the gyrating skanks and bling-laden hoodlums you’ll see at the MTV Beach House, but disciplined, classically trained professionals who can convincingly prove their performance is an art.

The guys can do some amazing things, leaping and spinning with apparent effortlessness – all while smuggling produce in the front of their pants. (They’re more obvious than Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap). And the women are magnificently exquisite. I was particularly taken by Irina Dvorovenko’s performance as Odette. The last time I was that impressed by a Russian dancer, she was on the pole at my buddy’s bachelor party (it should go without saying that I don’t expect any of these quotes to appear on a forthcoming poster for the American Ballet Theatre).

In addition to the tremendous display of dancing talent, I certainly enjoy the music. In fact, you’ll normally find my FM dial set to 96.3, and I listen to WQXR so often during the day that I actually get some of Jeff Spurgeon’s nerdy little jokes. Whether my devotion to a classical music station is indicative of my own sophistication or a general dearth of quality radio in the New York metro market, I do not know. But I’ll take classical over K-Rock (if you take out the hyphen, it spells krock, as in crock, as in crock of sh… eh, I think you get my point), and even “The Q” can be a little too predictable. (If they say they have Zeppelin coming up next, I guarantee that you could name four songs and have it be one of them).

Am I claiming to be part of the social elite? Certainly not – I’m just showing you the softer side of Hal. I even got a little choked up when Odette and Siegfried took their final plunge at the end of the ballet, forever uniting themselves in the afterlife. It’s similar to Capone weeping over Pagliacci in The Untouchables, or little Alex’s penchant for “the glorious 9th by Ludwig van” in A Clockwork Orange – even the knuckle-draggers of the world can acknowledge culture from time to time.

But keep in mind, my last column was about protesting the ban on Ladies Night and defending my right to wear a skirt in a bar …

(Author’s note: The fact that I’m wearing skirts in bars and attending the ballet is mere coincidence and should not be read into, so let me nip that in the bud – I’m all man, baby!!!)

Chris Halleron lives in Jersey City and tends bar at Duffy’s in Hoboken. His column appears every other week in the Current. He spends a lot of his time either in front of or behind the bar in Hoboken, where his tolerance for liquor grows stronger as his tolerance for society is eroded on a daily basis. Feel free to drop him a line at c_halleron@yahoo.com.

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