If this sounds like the punch line of a bad joke, read on. It is, in fact, the twisted hilarity that began an exciting, spontaneous evening on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.
Each Wednesday and Thursday from 9 p.m. until close, the nightclub The Gay 90s boasts amateur and professional drag shows for the 18-and-over crowd. Last Thursday, I ventured north to the Cities to see the extravaganza.
My friend and I elected to dress psuedo-drag; I was somewhere between Avril Lavigne and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, while Holly donned a stunning mesh top that made me forget we were just pretending to be each other's escorts. My Cavalier reverberated with an appropriate 90s mix, and our gender-blurred excitement increased as we approached our destination.
The club looked safe and well-attended; even the bouncers (pudgy men in nondescript t-shirts) looked affable. The vertical "The Gay 90s" sign hummed in welcome, but the surest sign that we were in the right place was pacing down the sidewalk as we approached.
Her flowing hair and tight black, rhinestone dress screamed femininity, whereas her 6' 4" stature and linebacker shoulders said otherwise. Hearing her deep baritone chuckle sold the deal: Holly and I had arrived.
I reached in my jacket and felt around my school ID, my debit card, my keys and my empty wallet. The sinking realization hit me. My driver's license was not in my wallet. I'd driven all that way and the only drag I would be able to experience would be dragging my sorry self home.
After a few pathetic attempts of haggling with the bouncers, I turned apologetically to Holly and began to trudge back to my car. A dumb blonde mistake had ruined our evening, and I was on the verge of frustrated tears.
Luckily, Holly pointed out that we'd already paid for parking, so we began walking down Hennepin Avenue to see what we could find. Within 30 minutes, we laughed ourselves to tears a dozen times.
First, a man in an electric wheelchair zoomed past us in the middle of the road, cutting off cars, keeping up with traffic and making motor noises with his mouth as if to advertise his own insanity.
Soon thereafter, a buggy-toting horse expressed his disdain for the avenue in the middle of the street, and the proceeding cars driving through his steaming disdain cursed from their cars. We even ran into three strapping anonymous Ole men emerging from a concert and briefly formed a merry band of people-watchers, enjoying the sights and sounds of the city.
Hennepin Avenue offers a foray of places to eat and things to see. Several venues for concerts, theatrical performances and comedians are all within mere blocks of one another.
Restaurants ranging from the familiar (Olive Garden and Famous Dave's) to the very unique (Nye's Polonaise Room and Auriga) provide a variety of dining opportunities.
With bars, clubs, and movie theatres galore, plus an odd collection of drunks and crazies, this single street can be a great destination for any Oles looking to experience the Minneapolis nightlife.
Holly and I eventually returned home after being propositioned by some persistent gentlemen natives, but not before stopping at Perkins to celebrate a successful evening with French toast and milkshakes.
There are several morals to this story. First, always keep your driver's license in your wallet. Second, bring male counterparts or pepper spray if you must wear a short skirt. Third and most important, explore the untapped wilderness of the Cities whenever the opportunity presents itself.
It is easy at St. Olaf, where many fun activities abound, to shy away from spur-of-the-moment trips that entail gas money and late nights. However, with so many adventures to be found on the city blocks of Minneapolis, it is a trip worth making.
You may see transvestites, horses and people in motorized carts, or you may just find a low-key way to spend time with some friends. Whatever it is you're looking for, you can find it on Hennepin Avenue.