The Campground as a Night on the Town

I’ve finally figured out how to wrap my head around why in the world people flock to crowded campgrounds where they show abject disdain for nature.

When I lived in Atlanta back in the ‘90s, my co-worker knew about not only the best gay clubs with full dance floors downtown, but also how to find your way upstairs to the drag and burlesque shows. This friend would urge me to dress in something unlike what I usually wear (as in, ”wear flattering clothes”), and we’d do ourselves up, make a plan for the night, and hit the town.

I did have a black bustier my sister had given me, which of course I modestly covered with a crisp while blouse (which my friend Chris insisted I unbutton), on top of a short black skirt. This get-up probably made me look like a waitress at a nicer strip club, but whatevs.

I must’ve stood out like a country mouse, because once, at the one standard gay bar we went to before the dance club (where the Teletubbies were being broadcast on TV above the bar: that tells you how long ago this was), I was hit on by the one straight guy playing pool. At least I’d known I’d stepped out of my normal hippy persona for the night.

My point is, that’s what I associate with “going out on the town.” I’ve danced in the middle of a crowded floor with people gyrating in cages above me; I averted my eyes from the wildly sexual choreography on stage; I laughed at the jokes the drag queens told upstairs; I chatted with people far from my usual social circle; I had breakfast at 5 am with all the Atlanta vampires out for the night.

A Night on the Country-style Town

And this is what campers are doing when they pull into campgrounds these days! Voila. Mystery solved.

Folks we’ve seen here get themselves all dolled up (they pack all their camping finery, including hanging baskets of flowers, concrete lawn statues, flags to wave from their campers (see below, which is currently directly behind our trailer), and neon lights to string around the full perimeter of their campsites.

After the set up their home base, they go socializing. A lot like I did as a pre-teen at Regency Mall in Richmond.

The children ride scooters, bikes, wagons, anything with wheels, around and around and around the campground loop, excited to show off and to see other kids.

The adults drive their decorated golf carts around the loops, too. (I’ve described this before and just can’t make myself go there again in my head). One camper here in Texas has red flames painted on her golf cart.

And they engage in the nightly dog parade. Apparently people don’t walk their dogs for exercise; they do it to show the dogs off to other campers. No worries if your dog barks at every other dog here! Making a spectacle is what camping it about!

Seriously—and not to denigrate people—I can see why people who live in really rural areas come to their “neighborhood” campgrounds. They see the same people year after year and get to catch up with them. They walk around comparing rigs. The kids play with each other, like at summer camp. It’s both a familiar atmosphere (out in the woods) but with enough difference (people right around you) to jettison you into an alternate universe, like me in the ‘90s in Atlanta.

Would I wear a bustier normally? No. Let’s hope these folks normally wouldn’t put neon lights outside all night and throw up outside their tents in the morning. I can’t even hope the same about Trump flags.

8 thoughts to “The Campground as a Night on the Town”

  1. These campgrounds seem like amusement parks that you happen to sleep at. Reminds me of the KOA with its arcade and moon bounce. Its a get away with lots of action! Not what you or I are after, but its a kind of country glitzy! Finding the country trails and lakes is the best parts for us!

    1. Small Country Campground where we stayed in Virginia for two months? Putt putt, bouncy moon walk thing, huge inflated toys in the lake – they had everything! I bet it’s tons of fun for kids.

      1. For sure, and it gives the adults time on their own to play and relax! Hope its as beautiful a day there as it is here today! I miss my hiking buddy!

  2. People ‘camp’ like that here (minus the huge campers and Trump flags). Some go to the same spot 30 or 40 years running. The kids grow up and start coming with their kids and it’s a huge family thing. Personally I can’t imagine spending that much time cheek by jowl with other people but I can understand the appeal of the other stuff.

  3. Campgrounds: Burning Man with training wheels. I mean, neon and flower baskets is a sweet beginning and they allow dogs at campgrounds.