Scene & Herd - Visiting Dick Lane ...

OK, commence giggling

Much to the disappointment of the metro area's drug addicts, last Saturday evening's Festival of Speed in East Point had nothing whatsoever to do with illegal stimulants. No, sir/madam, the Festival of Speed was a cycling-themed party in East Point at the Dick Lane Velodrome.

I'll tell you about the festival, but first, a vocabulary lesson. A velodrome is a cycling track. There are only 22 velodromes in the United States and three in the Southeast. A velodrome should never be confused with a Velamint, which is a sugar-free confection that gives you minty-fresh breath.

Like, say, several car race tracks, the Dick Lane Velodrome is an outdoor, tight oval track, consisting of two long straights connected by two steeply banked sharp turns. Velodromes are much smaller, however, than car race tracks. DLV's track is 323 meters around.

The main source of entertainment, of course, was cycling. There were 14 sets of races featuring men, women and children. Among the men and women were several national champs, world champs and Olympians including Iona Winter, Tony Scott, Kent Bostock, Anton Quist, Steve Hill and Stephen Alfred.

My two favorite events were the pro Miss and Out race and the Keirin. Miss and Out is an elimination race. As the pack of riders races around the track, the rider who finishes last at the end of each lap is eliminated. Because someone is eliminated on each lap, there's suspense throughout the race, not just at the end. When the race gets down to the final three riders, it becomes a sprint to finish. Saturday's Miss and Out featured more than 20 riders. The winner was the cocky Australian rider Jeff Hopkins. I call him cocky because as each lap was completed, Hopkins tauntingly pointed at the rider who just got eliminated. It made for good spectacle.

Keirin is a six-lap race with five to eight riders. For the first four-and-a-half laps, the cyclists trail behind a pace-setting motorcycle. With one-and-a-half laps to go, the motorcycle pulls off the track and the cyclists sprint to the finish. It's supposedly the second most popular spectator sport in Japan. The Keirin winner was Arlington, Va.'s Anton Quist, who's got more championships to his name than I could list here.

I wanna give a special shout-out to the event's musical entertainment, a funky group playing in the track infield called Ultimate Band. The group's national anthem was easily the most enjoyable I've heard in ages, not only because it was sung well, but because of the new lyrics ("who brought stripes and bright stars," "the ramparts we washed," and "for the land of free"). To top it off, when the band finished the national anthem, it immediately segued into "Brick House." I'm so hiring them for my next party.

Party with a purpose: Many of Atlanta's bars, restaurants and party promoters have responded to the Hurricane Katrina humanitarian crisis in the best way they know how: by throwing events whose revenue goes (all, or in part) to charity. Last Thursday evening, I attended two such events.

First, I stopped by Eleven50 for Give Back, a fundraiser party whose announcement boasted "Celebrity Appearances Coordinated by Dallas Austin." Among the celebrities whose appearances Austin was slated to coordinate were Big Boi, T-Boz, Farnsworth Bentley (a man who has achieved the new American dream — parlaying his proximity to other people's celebrity into his own celebrity).

I would have enjoyed selling T-Boz on the idea of hiring a certain male newspaper columnist to join her group (TAC has a nice ring to it, don't you think?), but sadly it was not to be since I didn't actually see any celebs when I was there. I'm not saying there weren't any there. I'm simply saying that between 11:15 p.m. and 12:15 a.m., none were evident to me as I did laps around the club looking for them. That's not to say I had a bad time. On the contrary, the music was good and the professional sexy dancers were, well, sexy.

After Eleven50, I headed over to the Metro for Reaching Out, a charity drag show to benefit the victims of Katrina. On the way to the Metro, I witnessed the most interesting pick-up I think I've ever seen. As a pretty woman was crossing Peachtree while chatting on her cell phone, a Mercedes SUV stopped by the crosswalk and the driver rolled down the window. The woman walked up and started flirting with the guy and, within seconds, was giving him her phone number. All the while, she never got off her phone.

Over to the Metro. I didn't stay long as I was exhausted from all that celebrity-hunting. I did, however, stay long enough to enjoy Taylor St. Martin do a great drag version of "I Hope You Dance" in a pretty black dress that showed off his lovely shoulders. After St. Martin's performance, a tattooed, shirtless man in low-fitting denim crouched on the stage with a bucket for donations.

March of Pesetas: Last Sunday evening, I participated in the March of Dimes' Salsa for Dimes benefit at Nuevo Laredo Cantina. I was, believe it or not, one of the event's celebrity bartenders. Hey, if Farnsworth Bentley can be a celebrity, why not me?

My job as a "celebrity bartender" (just to clarify, those are sarcastic quotation marks) was to dispense beer and premixed margaritas. When someone asked me for a drink I didn't know how to make (i.e., all of them except beer and premixed margaritas), I deferred to the real bartenders standing just behind me.

I mention all of this not to brag that I'm a celebrity. On the contrary, everyone who reads this will laugh at me and, like my friends who already know about the event, will probably make a comment about how celebrity ain't what it used to be. No, I'm mentioning this to plant a weird and funny image in your head: me and WXIA/Channel 11's Wes Sarginson tending bar together at a Mexican restaurant, an experience that has replaced "sitting next to Barry Gibb on an airplane when I was 2" at the top of the list of weirdest things to ever happen to me.

For more of Andisheh's antics, visit Scene & Herd at andy2000.org.

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