Dusting off my formal clothes and thinking about frauleins

Posted 9/17/21

As we get older, we start running into various reminders that we aren’t quite what we used to be. In my case, what I used to be was slim with a full head of dark hair. Now? Um, not so much. Of …

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Dusting off my formal clothes and thinking about frauleins

Posted

As we get older, we start running into various reminders that we aren’t quite what we used to be. In my case, what I used to be was slim with a full head of dark hair. Now? Um, not so much.

Of course, I should be reminded of this every day when I look in the mirror, but you know how that goes. You kind of gloss over the daily details and go strait to rinsing after brushing your teeth. Hair combed? OK, good to go.

But last week I got a call to play a wedding with a 1940’s style dance band. I used to do wedding gigs a lot and they always required you to wear a tuxedo. I also played with a lot of jazz groups that worked steady gigs at some of the fancy hotels in Denver and had to wear a tux for those too. Not to mention various concerts with symphony orchestras. For years, having a tuxedo was part of the standard wardrobe for male professional musicians.

The first time I ever wore a tuxedo was to go to my high school prom. As every kid does, I went to a formal wear place and rented one. Of course, to me, it was a really expensive suit that you had to be careful with and treat with some kind of reverence. Especially since your damage deposit was on the line and you certainly didn’t want to lose that.

But, it wasn’t long after, when I was in college, that it became apparent that I would need to actually go out and purchase one of those things. Back in the day there were some tux shops that offered a professional discount to folks that had to wear these things for work, so you could get a pretty good deal on one. I remember vividly going in for a fitting and that my jacket size was a 38 regular. That suit lasted for about ten years, but eventually it started getting a bit worn out, plus it was getting a little snug on me. So, I bought tux #2. A 42 regular. Yeah. I know.

Well, that suit went through hundreds of shows, eventually got tossed around in the back of the car, pants snagged on something loading into some venue, and most of the buttons fell off. The last time I wore it, it looked really horrible, didn’t fit well, and I was just thankful that I sat behind a set of drums so nobody could get a good look at the poor thing. I vowed that night I would have to finally have to get a new one the next time a gig called for a tux. I think 30 years is probably a good place to draw the line on how long one suit should last, right? Hey, it’s a tuxedo. You get a traditional one and the style never changes.

So, last week I found myself at the same formal wear shop in Applewood where I rented my first tux at. I walk in and Rick, the guy who owns it, looked just like me. Long gray hair in a pony tail, gray beard and he was still a really nice guy. I told him what I needed, he took one look at me, found the right size in an instant, hemmed up the pants and I was out the door with a brand new tux in about 45 minutes. A 46 regular. Forty six?! Yeah, I’m twice the man I used to be. Almost literally.

So, that started me thinking about all the other clothes or outfits I have hanging in my closet that I used to have to wear for gigs that probably don’t fit me anymore either. And one of those is a set of wool Austrian army surplus knickers with a shirt, suspenders, knee socks and boots that I used to wear every night playing with a German themed band at the top of Keystone Mountain. Holy cow, it’s September! It’s Oktoberfest season already!

Well, fear not. You haven’t missed the biggest annual Oktoberfest event here in Golden. This coming weekend, Sept. 17, 18 & 19, you can head over to the Denver Kickers Sports Club’s Oktoberfest at 16776 W. 50th Avenue. They will have plenty of live traditional German music to polka by, dance groups, loads of German food and of course, German beer in big steins. Tickets are available in different packages, some including food and drinks, and they are really reasonable. Just go to www.denverkickersoktoberfest.com for more information. Now you can see if your lederhosen still fit.

John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multi-media production. He can be reached at jaimaging@aol.com

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