Bouts are monthly through May and mostly take place at the Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way.
(Some bouts are in Alliant's Exhibition Hall.) There are after parties, too, at various nightspots.
"Do all your first dates have to sign media waivers?" I joked as I signed paperwork at the front desk and grabbed a press pass.
We were early enough to grab seats on the floor, a row of folding chairs close enough to see the players' sweat. The crowd was thin when we arrived, but quickly reached a fever pitch of children, grannies and a man with a mohawk that required an advanced degree in structural engineering. Many fans came in costume, which made for great people watching.
By the time it was over, we'd amassed a group of eight and had long stopped following the score.
Later, Sean and I stood at my door, lit from above by the yellowish glow of my flickering porch light.
Mere feet away, his friends watched from the backseat of the car. We decided to just shake hands.
My second date fell on the coldest night of the year. The flattering cut of my little black dress was wasted under layers of wool and flannel. I was meeting Matt, a quiltasian and american dating edicate designer and linguistics nerd, at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (227 State St.) for its MMoCA Nights program, a glammed-up art opening with a DJ, drinks and a lecture. Admission is free for members and $5 for everyone else.
The exhibit, featuring work by contemporary artist Shinique Smith, was visceral and evocative. "Visceral" and "evocative" feel like naked-emperor words, the kind used by people who want to sound like they mean something without actually having to mean it, but in this case the words meant something to me.
In one piece, bits of found fabric were bundled together and hung from the ceiling, resembling not so much a hot air balloon as a child's drawing of one. Another sculpture appeared at a glance like a sad stuffed tiger, abandoned on a lonely tree stump. A third, a bundle of clothes like a runaway knapsack, was tied with a clothesline to a single high-heeled shoe, reminding me of runaway children, runaway brides and getting the hell out of Dodge.
There was a lot to talk about in the gallery itself, but when it came time for the lecture, we silenced our cell phones and our conversation, too. I'd loved the pieces in the exhibit and looked forward to the talk, but once there, I felt out of place.
I grew up in a working-class family, and I'm surprised by the anti-intellectualism that stirs within me when I hear contemporary artists discuss their work. I examined my own feelings of distrust and alienation, pondering their roots.
I turned to Matt to see what he thought of the lecture. He'd fallen asleep.
"Contra dance!" a friend exclaimed when I told her about my next date. "What's contra dance?"
Contra dance is a partnered style of folk dance similar to square dancing. Madison Contra Dance Co-op meets Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.
Five dollars will get you in the door.
My date for the evening was Andy, a quality assurance analyst for a local software company. We met for tacos before the dance - perhaps too heavy a meal before so much spinning. From the Square, we trudged through the snow to the dance hall.
It was narrow and bright with high ceilings and a live band on the balcony above. The group was large and varied, and most people seemed to be regulars. We arrived early, and a gregarious gentleman, the caller for the night, endeavored to teach us to dance. The results of this lesson were less than impressive.
Since we were both new and clueless, asain dating sites Andy and I were not permitted to dance together, instead pairing with more experienced dancers in the group. The choreography changed every 10 minutes, so just as I'd start to find my way, we'd start over with something new.
Following doesn't suit me. I'm an assertive person by nature, and I resent being led by a man. It's one of the many reasons I'm single, I suspect.
My partner changed every few steps, leaving me tossed like a rag doll from one strange man to the next, hands in my face, grabbing, pushing, pulling, spinning me around. By the third dance, I was dizzy and nearly in tears.
"I feel even worse for my date," I confessed to someone who seemed to know what he was doing.