SOMETIMES LIFE imitates art in unusual ways. In our case, we hadn't even seen the art -- well, the movie -- that our lives were currently imitating.

But we were trying to. It was a chilly night recently when some friends of mine decided to see "Dances With Wolves" at the Uptown. Sharing the perverse enthusiasm of "Dance's" Kevin Costner when he volunteers for a desolate frontier posting, the five of us assembled from Germantown, Falls Church and Glen Echo into a posse at Glover Park. Squeezed into a compact covered wagon, we survived the bumpy trail into Cleveland Park. Against all odds, we found parking.

We also found a line -- a long line. Using tribal skills, we sent a scout out in search of tickets, while other braves (braving the cold) joined the fresh-air queue. We had 45 minutes till the movie started.

The wind was blowing strong; the women's coiffures were beginning to look like the unbraided, blown-dry 'do of Costner's Indian-raised girlfriend, Stands With a Fist. We initiated the ceremonial foot-stamping dance: It doesn't make you any warmer, but you can amuse a crowd hopping from foot to foot -- just call us Dances With Fools. Someone thought to ascend the hillock next to us to check under the marquee for signs of entry into the theater, as savvy as any Sioux.

Like Costner's character, we began to bond with those around us in line, and to fear intruders, as we once were. But like the endless waves of settlers Costner predicts for the frontier, the moviegoers kept on coming.

After what seemed like hours with no movement, the line started with a rumble and turned into a roar. Now resembling the movie's massive herd of eagerly awaited tatanka -- the Lakota word for buffalo -- we swept in from all sides into the spacious cinema. And after the stampede -- in one last evocation of the movie -- a good time was had by all.