Eat & Drink // P.M.-Dawn: Get Down for Standing Rock at Café Bourbon Street

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

It was difficult to approach Thanksgiving in a normal way amid updates on the Dakota Access Pipeline protests near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Law enforcement officials reportedly deployed water hoses and tear gas against Native Americans and others during the week of the holiday.

I'm grateful I had an opportunity to support the protesters in a small way that weekend, thanks to Max Wheeler, Emily McDermott and Jes Bodimer, who organized the Get Down for Standing Rock dance party at Café Bourbon Street. Profits from ticket sales, which amounted to more than $1,200 by the night's end, were donated to support protesters' legal fees. Physical items such as winter clothes and gas cards were also requested.

While I admired the cause, I must admit I was a bit out of my element at the gathering. Everyone was very friendly, but pretty engrossed in their own cliques in the intimate setting. I'm certain I was older than most of the attendees, and I was self-conscious about my appearance; I felt pretty ordinary as I took in some of the more interesting-looking people with colorful, asymmetrical haircuts and leather jackets. However, I didn't feel judged.

Luckily, I met a fellow Cincinnatian, Robert, who was selling myriad zines near the front door. I bought one that he wrote: "Real Punx Don't Talk to Cops." Inside, he explained why he didn't feel protected by police and offered a compelling essay on his community's experience successfully - and peacefully - driving a group of verbally abusive white nationalists out of Cincy's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood without law enforcement.

Afterward, I spent most of my time at the bar, regretting the rum and pineapple drink the bartender provided when I asked for a recommendation. I tried a cheese-and-potato pierogi - a tasty and cheap item popular among patrons - and watched a bit of "Cowboys vs Dinosaurs" on the TV. "It's based on a true story," one inebriated man informed me.

I had a pleasant conversation with Bodimer, who DJ'd after giving an impassioned speech about Standing Rock. She and DJ Galen Tipton provided sets I was pleasantly surprised I enjoyed given my lack of knowledge about EDM. I rarely pass up an opportunity to dance, but I decided to sit back and watch others. I admired their carefree commitment. I could tell they were having a great time.

By midnight, the lights were out and the bar was full. Everyone screamed when Bodimer played "Tomboy" by Princess Nokia, an artist I was excited to learn more about after an initial Google search.

I left thirty minutes later, appreciative of another chance to meet people with different tastes and talents, and imbued with a feeling of solidarity with the indigenous people of Standing Rock, with whom I wish I could stand in person.