As we grow closer to Halloween, we are invited to more and more events where we have the opportunity to dress as someone else. Wear another s shoes if you will, just for a few hours.
This weekend I attended a fantastic night of historic themes. Costumes were to be relevant to history of the area. I of course, did a little research and found a fantastic inspiration in the “hidden” or less talked about history of my conservative state’s “Red Light” district.
According to my research, not only was the oldest profession present here, it thrived. In fact, a much northern town closed the last establishment in the mid ‘80’s. Oh no, not 1880’s but the 1980’s. I was fascinated with the groups that were beginning to try to piece back the history lost after more proper history was chosen to preserve.
It was settled. I was going as a painted lady, a woman of the night, a girl for hire if you will. I pulled up the old photos I could find on line and collected my petticoats, velvet skirts, little boots and stockings.
The night of the event I was sure I wouldn’t be the only one with such a sassy idea. After all, it was the oldest profession, and if there was mining- there were brothels.
Little did I know I was the only one who went out on that proverbial limb. My observations of the crowd got me to thinking- No one in the room would have ever entered a brothel if we had been back in the day. I was surrounded by upstanding citizens of the community, people who if we flipped a switch and moved us all back into the 1800’s, wouldn’t have given me the time of day.
I looked around, realizing a great deal of the people here wouldn’t either. I didn’t know them, they were strangers to me, but my attire left nothing to the imagination to who or what I was dressed as. And I was treated as such. Now, no one was mean, or rude, but it was with great effort that the woman smiled and the men kept their eyes on my face. It was if I had walked through the door to 100 years prior. I was the woman in the room that everyone noticed, but pretended not to.
It was a empty feeling, a strange energy of loneliness and wondered…
Is this what every woman in this profession felt like walking into the general mercantile? I knew the answer- yes. My life tilted slightly in empathy for those who we pass on the street and ignore, the homeless, the wretch, even the occasional whore.
I went to the event focused on having a great time wearing a slightly edgy costume and having a great time. I left having a great time, loving my fantastic costume and took home a little more tolerance- Now that is a successful night.