Jailhouse Rock

"I haven't made out with anybody in 36 hours!"

Two Friday nights ago Dog Bites attended an impromptu party of a sort undoubtedly destined to become more and more trendy as our times wear on. A random selection of 33 women was brought together for an evening of whatever we could come up with, courtesy of the SFPD, in a holding tank at 850 Bryant St.

Lest you think we were a highly self-selected group of those willing to commit civil disobedience, be assured: Everyone there had been strictly obeying police orders, but had been gathered up nonetheless, at different spots around town, for this unique mixer. Our hosts for this cutting-edge social phenomenon wouldn't dream of boring us by simply throwing us together with our own kind. It's true we were all anti-war, but in the Bay Area, what does that say, really?

The event kicked off with a little light bondage as eight women standing on the sidewalk were handcuffed and escorted into the limo, a new boxy design with a fetching Sheriff's Department seal on the door. One of the women quickly slipped out of her handcuffs, allowing her to perform minor favors such as arranging other guests' hair, adjusting scarves, and feeding us the appetizer. In this unusual form of icebreaker, we were able (if not permitted) to eat whatever foodstuffs we had managed to keep on our persons after our backpacks and purses had been confiscated. The only item in this category turned out to be (ick) paper-thin slices of dried seaweed from the back pocket of a Marin "body awareness" teacher. Not a few of us politely declined.

The ride was brief and uneventful, but for the whispered rumor that our destination was to be the Alameda County Jail in far-off Santa Rita. However, it was at the Hall of Justice that we debarked in the party's antechamber, a sort of open-air coop marked off by crowd-control barriers, continuing the S/M theme. We admit to an involuntary aesthetic recoil upon noticing that six of the earlier arrivals had formed a New Age-y circle, arms laced across each other's shoulders, and were swaying and humming in unison. But we had underestimated our sisters: Crouched in the middle of them, shielded from view, was a small, feisty Latina who was informing her significant other of our plight -- er, get-together -- on her cell phone (an item strictly forbidden by party rules).

Perhaps to stimulate the juices of the het women, our enclosure was cheek-by-jowl with a pen of guy protesters. We spotted Ramu, the stately, shamanic poet of the Lower Haight, as well as Josiah, a nodding acquaintance from Dog Bites' home turf in the Mission. But we ladies soon settled down to learning how to play "snaps" from a brassy young brunette and her friend.

"You have to figure out how she knows what I'm saying," our hypervivacious co-detainee told us, and launched right in: "The name of the game is snaps. Bored I am." She snapped her fingers five times. "Stupid motherfucker. Humma humma humma!" Her companion immediately said the word she had clued, the last name of some ex-governor from Texas -- and no, we're not telling how it's done.

The staff now announced that we'd be moving to the main party site "after a cursory search."

"CAVITY SEARCH!" whooped the snapper. "All right -- some action!"

Nothing so undignified occurred, although when they took away Dog Bites' omnipresent pen we felt as naked as if it had.

Our holding tank was decorated with the cheery graffito "Jane Doe was here" and not much else. As subsequent arrivals were ushered in, yelps went out from Mills College students recognizing a colleague, although they had come to the demonstration separately. Soon the guest list was complete. A lesbian couple, both of them under 5 feet tall, clung together in an embrace that would last the entire evening. Across from them sat a blasé Frenchwoman who had declared that nothing like this would happen in France, where "we demonstrate all the time, for anything, and no one cares." A temp worker from Walnut Creek explained repeatedly to anyone who would listen her claim that she had been fired from her job for her anti-war views after calling in "absent" the day after the Iraq conflict began. In one corner, an ectomorphic Emily Dickinson vibe-alike sat literally wringing her hands and occasionally covering her face with her long, slender fingers. She said nothing whatsoever for five hours or so, after which someone tried to strike up a conversation and ascertained that she was, true to type, some sort of artist.

So here we were. Part of the fun was that we didn't know for how long. There were a few attempts at intellectual exchange:

"Violence has absolutely no place in the peace movement," breathed an earnest 19-year-old. This was briefly disputed by a pragmatic old-school rad who clearly had quite a bit of street action under her belt, but the discussion petered out. A suggestion that we all sing something thankfully fizzled as well.

Luckily we would be entertained by Erin, the class clown, who hugged the front panes of bulletproof glass to get a look at the boys in the adjoining tank.

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