Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sturgis

There i was, blazing down a dirt road in a cowboy truck, giving the one-finger wave to the ranchers who passed by, watching baby cows storm the ditches where they'd busted loose of their pens. Ahead in the distance was Bear Butte, a Lakota sacred ground; below it a hundred thousand bikers' campers and tents and Harleys sat under a yellow grey haze of heat and hedonism.

How did i get out there, thirty miles yet from civilization, in a ripped up pink tank top and ass-short shorts?

There i was, rum and vodka and all manner of biker-loved boozed dripping down my legs; smiling for pictures while Steven Tyler crooned on the stage nearby. Old men in black leather vests taking my picture and me smiling like i did this all the time. I wasn't taking off my top on command like some of the other chicks, but the ripped-up shirt was almost the same anydamnway...

How did i get here, behind this bar, winking for tips?

I've been working at the Buffalo Chip Campground this week, during the biggest party South Dakota has ever thrown -- the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. There have been weird things to report all week, but tonight, during the full moon, has to be the weirdest succession of events thus far. And it's only Wednesday.

It started off pretty normal, as far as the Chip goes. We bartenders (including my baby sis, working alongside me all the while) counted out the money for our cash registers and made our way to the bars we'd be working at. Tonight ours was next to the stage where Aerosmith was set to go on around 10:30. Only about four hours to lube up the crowd with Jaeger Bombs, shots of tequila and a boatload of Miller Lites before the band went on stage.

Things were going along quite nicely when lightning started streaking across the sky -- parallel to the ground in mad flashes. The chicks in leather bras and dudes in leather vests couldn't have cared less that their parade was getting rained on. Aerosmith -- fucking Aerosmith, man -- was about to go on stage. So they waited it out in the wet, howling at the full moon when it finally came back out, dancing in the rain and drinking more than anyone really ever should.

The band had rocked about half of their set when all of a sudden Steven Tyler's mouth was moving, but nothing was coming out. Some wires had gotten crossed backstage, and since our bar was directly connected to backstage, both Steven's mic and our bar lights went out at the same time. That wasn't about to stop the old rocker from rocking it, so he headed out onto the wet stage to party with the crowd and dance around. Until he fell off the end of it.

The crowd erupted into cheers, thinking the sixty-something old guy was trying to crowd surf. I wonder who it was who first noticed the blood coming from the back of his head. In a matter of a few minutes, Steven was whisked off on a stretcher, under the cover of someone's camp tent so no one could take pictures, into an ambulance bound for Rapid City. Since it's just a few hours hence, there's no word yet on how he's doing, but the word from the dustbowl is he broke his head open, and busted his collar bone.

So the show was over, and our bar was doused in blackness. We stayed open a bit longer, fishing cold Miller Lites from the trough of icy water one by one and holding them up to the light of the street lamp near the bar to make sure they were the right ones. A series of three unfortunate events -- the thunderstorm, Tyler's fall, and the lights going out were just about all the excitement i could take for the night.

But things just kept getting weirder. While we were counting out our money, the ladies in the business office noticed that one of the Hawaiian Tropic models who double as bartenders alongside us at the Chip had been stealing money in the form of pocketing cash for beers. Or at least that was the word on the street.

Then at the gas station, where my sis and i were stuffing our starved faces with nasty nachos, a woman came in blabbing about how the US Marshals were escorting her home, because the Hells Angels had threatened to kill her when she tried to extract her friend from their clubhouse. Apparently the friend was being kept there against her will -- a 21 year old naive bimbo who thought it might be cool to hang with the Angels during Bike Week was now getting the scare of her life. We rode in the wake of the Marshals all the way to Rapid City -- 35 miles from where they'd started.

Really though, how did i get here?

It's four in the morning in South Dakota and i am tired. And i don't think i can take any more surprises tonight.

1 comment:

Canadian Bald Guy said...

Wow.

I don't even know what to say to a post like that...except maybe, "Wow".

Any pics of you in the ripped-up shirt?

Sorry...just kidding...heh.

I'm looking forward to hearing more Sturgis stories. Are you there for the entire week?

And just how DID you get down there??