A Dance With Spalding Gray



100 e 14th st ny 10003

Neighborhood: East Village

When I was in college, I spent an entire night dancing at the Palladium in New York City with Spalding Gray. We danced and danced to every song- danceable or not. I didn’t know who he was but my friends did and he was a very cool older man who seemed to still like the things I’d assumed you stopped liking when you turned gray.

I had been in a fashion show at the Palladium that night and I still had on my long white Mary McFaddon dress while bopping around to Madonna’s “Express Yourself.” My friends and I were new to the city and looking back it seems perfect that Spalding Gray was one of the first ambassadors to guide us into the mysteries of New York. He treated me like a grown up and was a perfect gentleman. More than anything, he reminded me of the shy art majors I was at NYU with. At the end of the night, my girlfriends and I walked him home before heading back to our apartment on Second Avenue — the first of many apartments during my time in New York.

That old apartment is gone — burned down. The Palladium is now NYU dorms. All that thumping house and lit staircases — razed to house the students who were babies or not even born when the dance hall was king. And this week I know for sure that Mr. Spalding Gray is gone too.

Years later I saw and read his work and wished I’d asked him clever questions when we met instead of just jumping up and down to George Michael.

I’m gone too. Over a decade of parties, boyfriends, school and false career starts awaited me in New York after we left Mr. Gray at his home. I am not anywhere close to being the un-jaded newcomer that I was.

I have left. I drive a green Honda in Los Angeles traffic and think about my own brief but unforgettable experience with depression. I didn’t know what it was or how many pills there would be for it back when I was spinning around in my white gown with Mr. Gray.

And I didn’t know that not everyone could simply take up jogging, fall in love and grow out of the depression like I did. I didn’t know that some people stayed trapped in the grief, no matter how good their lives got around them.

I always assumed I’d run into him again. New York is like that — you don’t worry so much about exchanging information because you live by the city’s serendipity. But I never did, and for a long time, I forgot all about it. Now I feel a loss I don’t really have the right to because it is not sadness for the tragic death of a talented man — a good man — I feel. It is more about the loss of everything that changes and passes. From legendary clubs, to my own unaccounted-for twenties. And then there is my feeling that I didn’t so much leave New York as get spat out by it. Anyway, I danced one night in the nineties in New York City with Mr. Spalding Gray and he never got tired or missed a beat.

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§ One Response to “A Dance With Spalding Gray”

  • wow, just came across this, had him on my mind a lot last few days, preparing a storytelling perf. and i mention his influence and meeting him. just went into another site to find something and found you, thanks, all these years later for a gorgeous piece, i have not been totally spat out of ny yet, but getting close, high rise city, they’re knocking down beloved places, it’s like one big tall bldg. circus, very sad, still good people here but harder and harder to live especially if you’re a creative ‘type’ — thank you for your beautiful story. i loved him.

    enjoy l a, glad you’re not depressed. he tried, he really did and did well for a long, long time.

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