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Robert Abrams
Dance Mountain
United States
Dance Mountain (1 mile above sea level or higher)
Vail, CO

Club Chelsea

by Robert Abrams
March 23, 2001
Vail, CO

The place: Club Chelsea

Where: Vail, Colorado

Address: Bridge Street

Phone: 970-476-5600

Reviewer: Robert Abrams

Date: 3-23-01

I arrived at Club Chelsea around 10:30 pm on a Friday night. The club has three rooms: a smoking room, a room for sitting and listening to live music, and a disco. The disco was very crowded by this time. The disco was mostly filled with drink while you dance college kids (probably college kids anyway), plus a few 45 types who clearly looked happy to be with a younger crowd. The predominant style of dance was bump and grind no matter what song was being played. There was quite a lot of danceable music being played by the DJ. Hustle. Cha-cha. Even some Salsa so long as you were willing to use a little creative interpretation of the rhythm. As is typical in a bump and grind club, there was almost no room to dance in any formal style. About half of the time I was there (about an hour and a half), there was enough space to really dance - so long as you kept your steps tight. The clear space on the dance floor was never more than about four and a half Royal Canadian size pancakes (10 square feet).

I went to Club Chelsea with advance intelligence that indicated it was unlikely anyone there would be dancing in partnership. I had a drink and tried to dance for myself and not let my ballroom obsession get the better of me. I was almost despairing of getting anything satisfying out of the evening when a woman dancing near me made some throwaway remark about my dancing. This gave me an invitation to dance with her. It happened that a Hustle was playing. We managed to dance a passable Hustle. The space was tight and we were right on the lip of the dance floor, but we worked our way through a variety of moves without hitting anyone, including the people who were pushing their way through the crowd with drinks in their hands bound for Heaven only knows where. I didn't get the woman's name, but she was a very attractive, youthful looking older woman. Most importantly, she was a fine dancer.

That wasn't the best part, though. After thanking me for the dance, she proceeded to critique my Hustle technique. Finding someone who can dance in partnership in a bump and grind club is a minor miracle. Finding someone who can enjoy dance and then intelligently critique it is a major miracle. She claimed that I let her go out too far, which as a leader I shouldn't do. She was probably right, but in my defense, the conditions were rather less than ideal. Precise connection takes more than one song to finetune. If I were dancing the follower's part, I would rather have the leader give me more floorcraft to keep me safe and less of everything else. But I am not complaining. As a dancer, I take critique as a sign that the other person is taking my dancing seriously, so as I said above, I was happy to get the criticism.

I spent the rest of the evening dancing for myself. I didn't dance with her again because I didn't want to be clingy, and she had come with someone. I was kind of hoping that I would accidentally get to dance with someone else, but lightning rarely strikes twice, and this evening was no exception.

The dance floor seemed to be segmented into groups of people who knew each other already, plus a couple of rouge males who would try to interact with women and would usually be rebuffed. In some cases, the attempted interactions were unsubtle. I was never taught the bump and grind/bar scene code (assuming such a thing exists). Nevertheless, judging from the behavior at Club Chelsea and elsewhere, I think it is safe to say that people who are not used to dancing in partnership often misinterpret an invitation to dance as an attempt to hit upon the woman.

That being said, if you are looking for a late night post skiing scene (on Fridays at least - I was also there on Monday night and the place was dead), Club Chelsea is a lively place to go. If you want to dance in partnership, you might get lucky, but you will be better off bringing a partner. Also consider showing up around 9 pm so that you can start when the DJ starts but before the bump and grind crowd shows up in force.

Vail has two other dance clubs: 8150 and Nick's. The scene at these places is probably similar to Club Chelsea, although I haven't been to either of them so I can't say for certain.

Musical notes jive in the air at Club Chelsea. If you look closely, you can see a woman doing her thing.

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