AWO Brings Texas Home to Moscow
For those in the know, AWO stands for American Women’s Organization, and here in Moscow, along with the IWO or International Women’s Organization, they stir up a lot of dust as they party for charity, organize holiday craft fairs for charity, and, generally, just have a good time for charity. A Saturday night in October brought me into the AWO party zone when they had their Rockin’ Russki Roundup at the Holiday Inn near the Belorussky train station.
Could an evening in Moscow have been any stranger than one with more than a hundred Texans, and others who wished they were, partying it up in the ballroom of the Holiday Inn just like back in Dallas, or Austin, or anywhere in the U.S., where beer and margaritas with a shaker of salt are in supply. I was overdressed – I wore a dress. The women looked great in their tight jeans, white shirts and vests topped off with that Texas cowboy hat that anyone can look good in with the right ‘attitude.’ Well, not everyone. I heard a rumour that the local help at the party were attired in cowboy outfits that had been specially shipped in from Texas. They were dressed right, but they weren’t actin’ right! They looked like they were unhappy participants at a Halloween party. Imagine cowboys in from riding the range who are mighty uncomfortable around strangers. Not a smile from any of them as they moved among us, clearing our dishes away before we were finished, handing out our margaritas that packed a vodka-shot wallop, or solemnly watching the Texans doing energetic line dances. I felt like tickling one of the pseudo-cowboys just to see if I could get a smile!
No matter, the Rockin Russki Roundup was a great success, with a lottery for a Texas- style framed photo of a beautiful woman and her horse, a group sing of Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville” that really brought down the house, and substantial money raised for charity, which is what all of the above was about.
In my early days in Moscow, I nosed around and found the AWO coffee mornings. In those days, they were held at the apartments of members who volunteered to host these events. This is what got me to go. Living in a slightly hovel-esque apartment, I wanted to see how the other half was living in Moscow. And so I set off to my first AWO coffee. It took me awhile to find the apartment, but I knew I had arrived when I heard a dull roar coming out of a half-opened apartment door several flights up. The roar got louder and when I opened the door, I was confronted with dozens and dozens of laughing, screaming (well, yelling over the party din), American women whooping it up in their bare feet (it was a muddy winter day). It was an amazing sight to someone who thought she had come to Russia to be the only expat American woman in town. Silly me – there were thousands of us here! And from the attitude of the AWO’ers we were all going to have a really good time in Moscow. And it looks like we still are, judging from the Hoedown at the Holiday Inn.