In Raleigh, a local landmark closed this week. Pantana Bob’s bar, commonly known as PB’s, had none of the ambiance or sanitation of the Glenwood South and warehouse district establishments. Instead it had sticky floors, disgusting bathrooms and a few dusty beer signs on the walls. But it had two things that few other bars in town had, really cheap beer and a really close proximity to campus.
For 25 years, PBs was part of the NC State University student experience. Since it closed it’s doors for the last time this week, I thought I’d share a story.
I went to PB’s one night with a group of girlfriends. I had just enough plastic cups full of cheap, domestic beer to feel chatty. The place was packed shoulder to shoulder when the DJ came over the microphone and said that they were giving away two tickets to a concert the next night. I don’t even remember what concert it was now, but I remember I wanted to go. The DJ announced they were going to have a competition for the tickets and were looking for four volunteers.
Before I even have time to change my mind, my friends pushed me towards the bar and I climbed on top of it. As soon as I stood up and looked down at the sea of inebriated people below me, I started to regret my decision.
The music started and the DJ announced that each of the four contestants would have their turn to dance to the music. At the end, the crowd would vote on the best dancer.
I wanted to get down at this point because I was none of the following:
a. a good dancer
b. drunk enough not to care that I wasn’t a good dancer
So I stood there, watching as each of my competitors gyrated and shook their booties to the song chosen for them. They were sexy dancing all over the place and I was completely regretting my decision to participate.
Then something wonderful happened. It was my turn to dance and what song does the DJ choose for me?
The Devil Went Down to Georgia by the Charlie Daniels Band. In that moment, something washed over me. Something brave.
I then proceed to spend the next few minutes clogging my little heart out. I did the complete opposite of sexy dancing. Stomping and stepping all over the end of that bar, I tried my hardest not to make eye contact with anyone or fall off.
My parents took clogging lessons when they were newlyweds. Growing up, my mom taught me all of the basic steps, including some of the fancier kick steps. I don’t know the formal names because I learned all of this barefoot on our back deck. I would practice all the time because it combined my favorite childhood activities of being loud and making spastic movements with my body.
And so, there on that bar I performed my first public clogging routine. All three of my competitors watched me in amused disgust. Clearly the point of the sexy dancing contest had been lost on me. What a loser.
But when it came time for the beer fueled crowd to vote on a winner, the DJ went down the line. Holding his hand over each girl as she reveled in the spotlight, egging them on to cheer louder.
When he got all the way to the end, and put his hand over my head, the loudest cheer of all went up. Two coveted tickets to a concert I don’t even remember were mine. I’d earned them by sacrificing every last cool point I had, but with my dignity still intact.
The doors at PB’s are now locked forever, but they say that if you put your ear against the door on a moonlit night, sometimes you can hear the echos of an undergrad stomping her heels with wild abandon on the sticky bar.