“Do you think they’ll come?” I ask? “Will our being here scare them off?”
They’ll be here,” Deb replied. “They party every year on the anniversary of the first Beau Brummels Band concert they attended sometime in the 1960s.”
“Are you sure that isn’t just an urban legend?” asked Mike, Deb’s husband. “I don’t think it’s real.”
“Have more faith.” This from Deb.
We are at the abandoned big red party barn just outside of Petaluma. The barn is rumored to be haunted by the band that used to play there and the people who danced and partied with them.
It’s nearly dark. We sneak in, climb the creaking stairs to the second floor, and wait. Four mounted deer heads watch from the wall behind the drum set. They witnessed the first party – and all those that followed. But they aren’t talking.
Cobwebs trail from the deer’s horns. Dust covers the musty couches and chairs. I sneeze. An empty Champagne bottle sits on a side table. No living person has climbed these stairs for a very long time.
Marc, my husband, walks around the room. He stops and fiddles with some wires, and suddenly we have light from a thousand small bulbs strung around the room. He smiles.
We aren’t spring chickens ourselves. Two of us are retired. Three of us are eligible for Medicare. We remember the music of the 1960s. We may have been children, but we were there. And now we’re waiting for the party to start.
They come slowly, gliding up the stairs. The band comes first. The drummer sits behind his drum set centered between the deer heads. The other three band member come next. One is wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt and a fedora. He takes his place in front of the drums and plugs in his bass guitar. The other two guitar players take their places at left and right.
Others drift in until the room is full. A woman with very short blonde hair talks and laughs with her big black dog on a couch near the stairs. A man wearing a fringed scarf and a Panama hat sits at a table near the center of the room. Two women are at a cocktail table near me, sharing a bottle of Proseco and enjoying the evening. A woman wearing a home-died, layered, fringed skirt and boots comes up the stairs with her partner, wearing tie-die. An ethereal woman with long white hair floats up the stairs with grace. She is beautiful. They’re all slightly transparent.
The air fills with a funky miasma of patchouli and musk, incense and pot.
The music starts. The band covers songs from Beau Brummels Band, Jefferson Airplane, the Beatles, and more. The barn is rocking. The deer heads watch. Some ghosts smoke pot and just sit there being mellow. Some sing along with the band.
The woman and the dog dance, the dog wagging his tail and grinning. A man gets up to dance. A woman wearing a tank top and tight jeans sways to the music. Everyone dances together. No partner, no problem. Move to the music. Grove to the vibes.
They don’t seem to notice that they have living guests. Or if they notice, they don’t care. One of them asks Deb to dance. She declines. I wished he had asked me. I would have danced. I am delighted with the scene unfolding before us.
After a couple hours the band stops playing. The guests start to drift down the stairs; some fading fast, some still translucent. We living guests walk down, our footsteps ringing on the stairs.
They rock once a year. They live on – long live rock and roll.