Segregation is Alive and Well
Disclaimer for this post: Everything you're about to read is my opinion and strictly how I feel personally. You are, of course, entitled to your own thoughts and feelings about the topic I'm about to discuss - and I and the rest of the city will know which side you belong to based upon your reaction. You can run, but you can't hide. Dallas is segregated.
And I'm not talking black and white. No. I'm talking Dallas is one, enormous college campus, separating the greek life from the non-greek life.
Of course, the greek life mention is just a metaphor. Tons of frat dudes and sorority girls hang out in Deep Ellum, I'm sure. And vice versa with non-greeks hanging in Uptown. But to stick strictly to the metaphor here,
This city is split into two social arenas: the fratters in Uptown and the non-fratters in Deep Ellum.
I've lived here since moving back after college in 2009. I grew up in the northern suburbs where I was surrounded by new money and bitches who got nose jobs and boob jobs as high school graduation presents. I was weary upon moving back, having never lived as a legal adult in the heart of the city before, but I was up for the challenge and a new adventure.
At first, it was okay. I stuck to Uptown because what the fuck did I know? I was freshly graduated, having come away from a college campus full of domestic drafts and late night pizza and was still figuring out how the hell to style my hair. So, back then, Uptown didn't bother me as much. I dealt with it. I embraced it. I was ignorant to the world outside of those few streets, so I wasn't bothered to discover the unknown.
But, as the years passed (really like A year), I grew tired of Uptown and its typical, predictable, boring antics. I needed to shake up my world. I needed to put my cooler, edgier outfits on and venture somewhere they'd be appreciated - somewhere down south in the land of hipsters, AKA Deep Ellum.
I don't know how you referred to non-fratters on your college campus, but I know them as "GDIs" - and I was one for my last half of university. It stands for God Damn Independent. They don't need no stinkin' greek life - they fend for themselves just fine and they like it that way. They discovered microbreweries long before you did and they're so non-conformist that they're conformists among themselves. YA DIG?
Where Uptown offers you college-like bars with stereotypical tunes blaring (i.e. the likes of Elton John, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel), Deep Ellum dares you to experience real, live music at one of its popular live music venues with bands only the elite of the elite know of and probably late-night with until 5am every weekend.
Here's what I'm ultimately driving at: I don't fit in, anywhere.
What does a girl do when she dons designer jeans but with a boutique, fringe kimono and Michael Kors heels but also an American Apparel mid-length crop tank who has a double pierce in one ear but no tattoos and who refuses to drink any sort of domestic light beer not because she's trying to be cool but because she really thinks it tastes like cat piss and who isn't particularly turned on by men in polos and sperrys and probably isn't feminine and boring enough for them anyway, but also knows that, at the end of the day, she won't be able to seriously consider marrying that super bearded man with 106 tattoos and no college degree but who loves facial hair and burly men more than she loves her own dog probably but is maybe not alternative and edgy enough to date the latter?
WHAT. WHAT IS SHE TO DO?
My entire life, for as long as I can remember, I've been a "floater." I've never had a group. I've never belonged to one set of people. I've always had a small handful of best friends who have other, separate-from-us best friends of their own. I've never felt comfortable in skinny jeans and standard pumps and I've never taken a fireball shot, but I also don't play a musical instrument, refuse to ever date a musician, and do believe in a thing as too many tattoos. I can hold my own in a seedy, dive bar and can do just the same at a loud, bright, overly social bar. I can wear J.Crew and sip on vodka/waters, and I can also wear American Apparel and sling back IPAs. I LITERALLY was in a sorority for 2 years and then out of a sorority for 2 years. That's how in the middle I am. Do you catch my drift here? Are you picking up what I'm putting down? CAN YOU SMELL WHAT THE ROCK IS COOKING?
I'm not saying either lifestyle is wrong - in fact, I'm envious of those who fit seamlessly into one or the other. It's myself and other floaters I feel for and who I am urging to band together. But banding together begs the question: where in the fuck do we hang out? We're not edgy enough to be considered a part of the elite of Deep Ellum, but we're definitely not "Dallas" enough to blend into the Uptown crowd. What land do the in-betweeners claim as their own? The literal middle area that is Knox/Henderson? Not Lakewood - it's much too much too close to the Deep Ellum scene.
Is every city this way? I find that hard to believe. I think the layout of Dallas naturally lends itself to this type of segregation. In larger cities like, for example, Chicago, it's all just compacted into one, huge space. Ya know where the coolest place is to go out? The city. Ya know who has awesome draft beers and pool tables? The city. Ya know which bar has a killer dance floor? That one place in the city next to that other place in the city. The social scene there is one, big, united front.
Dallas is not this way. At times, it feels way too reminiscent of the Sharks and Jets debacle of West Side Story, minus the whole wanting to live in America thing. But if you mention one area of town to the other area of town, it's not unheard of to get reactions such as this:
I'm surprised there haven't been full-blown turf wars between the Uptowners and the Deep Ellumers, but then again, maybe there have been and I've been too busy hiding away in my apartment on a Friday night, rocking back and forth with Cece pondering where the hell I'd even go if I wanted to go out.
We'll figure it out one of these days, I hope. We'll finally understand where we feel most comfortable and have the most fun. But, in the meantime, I'll just be floatin' around town, popping up at completely contradictory spots as often as I can until I have that golden Goldilocks moment of juuuuuuuuust right.