"I'm really bothered by this low ceiling," complained 6-foot-8 Rich Gudaitis, whose height was unnoticed as he sipped scotch in a room where only those under 6 feet tall drew attention.
Gudaitis was one of 30 towering men and women at a recent Tall People's Disco Party, intended to free unusually tall people from the stares and whispers of a shoulder-high world.
The party, at the Black Horse Tavern in the District, was sponsored by the Tip-Toppers of Washington, a singles club for women who are 5 foot 10 or Taller and men who are at least 6 foot 2 in their stocking feet.
The club's new president, Barbara Dodson of Silver Spring, 5 feet, 10 1/2 inches -- a shorty by club standards -- explains that the club's 60 paying members come from as far away as "Annapolis to Lorton (Va.)" for these elevating activities.
"The girls come because they like tall men. The men come because they like tall girls," explained Marilyn Miller, a statuesque 6-foot blond. "We're one of the few singles clubs that has an even mix of girls and boys."
Bill dahlberg, a 6-foot-6 electrical engineer and coast guard officer, smiled in approval.
"I came to a dance much like this one and just became part of the group," he said. "I'm about the average height for the men in the club. I can come here and be sure that when I ask someone to dance, they won't come up to my belly button."
"By the way," Dahlberg added with a note of cynicism, "It's a myth that we all play basketball. Volleyball is our main sport.
At conventional discos, being tall is all a matter perspective, said Mark Robey, who is 6 foot 8.
"Stand up to dance and she (the woman) does one of these numbers," he said, rolling his eyes to imitate a prospective dance partner's shock at his height. "You both get embarrassed. Tall girls have it even worse."
Six-foot-tall Michelle Huber agrees.
"I never thought I was self-conscious," she said, but reluctantly added that she wears tennis shoes rather than high heels to conventional dances.
Tall Clubs International, formed in 1946, now has about 1,500 members in the U.S. and Canada. A monthly newsletter keeps members informed about ski weekends, Greek dinners, dinner dances, hay rides and volleyball tournaments.
Lola Reinsch-Bohn who, at 5 foot 11, considers herself a "shorty," has been a member for three years and has participated in many tall persons' activities.
"I always have fun when I go. These people are all ages and from every walk of life," said the former Miss Tall Cleveland. "They love to drink, dance and have fun."
The club recently celebrated the wedding of two members, who were on their honeymoon at the time of the dance. When tall woman meets tall man, lasting relationships are not uncommon, said Andy Aldama, who was wearing a "Join HIGH Society -- International Tall Clubs" button.
"I've been corresponding with a woman in Orlando for about a year," he said. "She's a Libra, and we're naturally compatible."