Elvis Found Alive ... at the Elks Lodge

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I walked into the Miami Elks Lodge 948 (10301 SW 72nd St., Miami) ballroom last Saturday night, amidst a sea of silver hair, and the scent of ultra-sweet perfume. The song “Blue Velvet” blared as the 55-and-over crowd danced ever so slowly on the dance floor. “She wore bluuuuuuee…vellllvetttt….” I spotted an open bar as an overly friendly gray-haired woman approached. “Go get yourself a drink, and I’ll get you on the dance floor. My name is Cathy.” I nodded politely and ordered the same as everyone else, bourbon with a splash of soda. Thick pancake make-up, dyed black hair, and that smell permeated the room. The flyer made no mention of the senior singles club, it just said “Las Vegas Elvis impersonator.” A woman on the dance floor suddenly became short of breath as she shook her hips and clutched her own throat. Two men with toupees prevented her from falling and helped her to her seat. Another woman introduced herself and explained, “That woman you were just talking to, her husband died about six months ago. He was a great man; we named the lodge’s pool after him.” I looked over at Cathy and she smiled. Eventually the lights dimmed and everyone sat down at their tables. Elvis impersonator Joel Harris strutted onstage wearing a late-Seventies-era red Elvis jumpsuit: “Thank you.…Thank you very much.” Cameras flashed as he crooned “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” in the King's style. Harris had no backing band, just a karaoke-style CD as accompaniment. I looked around the room and decided that it was time for another drink. After the performance, I walked backstage and chatted with Joel. He has dedicated his life to two things, he said: Elvis and drag racing. “I’ve got a 1996 Chevy S-10 pickup with the 540-cubic-inch, big-block motor,” he says. “I love drag racing, and I love Elvis. I named my daughter Lisa Marie.” I thanked him and quickly exited the building. -- Jason Handelsman

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