Shoulda realized when I saw the address. Signing up for TSA pre-check, mostly online, but they need my fingerprints and first-borne male child. The former I carry with me, the latter saves lives in Denver.
2021 Amidon Avenue, Wichita. The TSA fingerprint place occupies the same exact physical space that once was Mecca for a generation in Wichita who will go to bed (early) tonight comfortably ensconced in the precipice of middle age.
Back then it was Pogo’s, Wichita’s destination disco.
I often find myself defending disco to the younger generations who can’t get past the polyester and platforms. Haters gonna hate. Precipice approachers gonna own their disco. Those of us who came of age in the late ‘70s didn’t choose it. The music and the culture just sprung up around us. And as young people are wont to do, we embraced it.
(INSERT TIME TRAVEL NOISES AND EFFECTS HERE)
Dozens of us lined up on the sidewalk to get in. Girls in rabbit fur waist jackets. Guys in platform heels, skin-hugging polyester shirts. Bouncers on the left. I turned 18 six months after graduating from Heights, but was getting in on a fake ID long before that. On the right, coat check girls.
Pay the cover charge, walk up a half dozen steps, blue (or was it red?) shag carpet on the floor and on the walls and after a few steps it just sorta swallows you up. The entrance opens to a dark, cavernous warehouse-sized space.
It’s dark, but the bars are lit. Two of them flank the entire space. In keeping with the times, the architecture is split level. Bars and tables up top, with a game room for those not inclined to shake their groove thing. The deejay booth on the lower level.
And then you hear the music. Continuous, uninterrupted music. The songs change, but the beat is constant, deafening, throbbing. An ocean of bodies – a generation of Cold War babies coming of age on a lighted dance floor, bound together by 127 beats per minute and feathered hair. You feel it in your bloodstream.
Pitchers and pitchers... and pitchers... of Lite Beer from Miller (Tastes great, less filling).
Not one, but two (maybe three?) mirrored disco balls, reflect the rotating spotlights. The dance floor takes up nearly the entire lower level, colors changing with the beat of the music. It was exhilarating, pseudo-sophistication. Travolta and the Bee Gees got it right. It’s a fever.
Satisfaction came in a chain reaction. I never found Ms. Right at Pogo’s, just Ms. Right Now. We’d close it down and pour ourselves across the street to another Wichita icon – Kings X restaurant, for 3 a.m. chicken fried steak.
I felt compelled to mention to the millennial TSA fingerprinter that she’s working in hallowed space that means a lot to those of us aging gracefully. She was polite, but I’m not sure she got it. When I walked out, I lingered for a while on the sidewalk and reminisced. It was a gorgeous day in the city where I came of age.
Rain. Shine. Don’t mind. We’re ridin’ on the groove line tonight.