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Posts Tagged ‘dance’

Dance

I’m walking in town tonight. There was rain in the day, the streets are still glossed, and puddled in places. I pass an alleyway, warmly lit, and there I spy a small group of people, waiting outside a doorway. I’m curious and venture down the alley to see what’s going on. Normally, I’m afraid of the darker places in town, wary of the night creatures who, I’m told, stalk them, but there’s an air of charm about this group, something in the ease of their posture, and the soft cadence of their conversation. Others arrive, and the numbers swell. They are a polished crowd, well groomed, and fragrant. Some men wear suits and bow-ties, others wear silk shirts. The ladies wear shimmery dresses, and stockings.

The door opens, and we are washed by a cosy fug which escapes the warm interior, and dissipates into the cool of the night. There is music – an infectious rhythm, part jazz, part tango. It takes hold of one’s hip and has them swaying as if by remote control. Inside, the people dance, while a man plays piano with a magician’s skill. The waiting crowd enter, greedy for the vibe. I remain where I am, longing to join them, but I am too casually dressed. I have not shaved, and my shirt is unironed. It would be good to dance again, but I’m a mess and these are no longer my people.

I’m dreaming, of course.

So many metaphors to explore here, so many thoughts and feelings to unpick! It harkens a little to the past, visiting a dance hall in town by night, long ago. Dance, music, rhythm. I remember, it was the greatest of joys. One transcended everything, at least for the duration of the music.

Normality? Yes, the dream harkens back to a time of what was once normal, to the well groomed, fragrant crowds at their ease, seeking transcendence. Then there is the dark, and the cackling night creatures, real enough and ever-present. But they and their attendant, multifarious sufferings, are held at a safe distance by the soft cadence of a greater number of the sweetly voiced.

There is nostalgia then, or perhaps more specifically, there is the realisation of the magnitude of change, from the way we were then to the way we are now. There is a sense, too, that we no longer have access to the rhythm of the dance that drives us, or at any rate we’re no longer smart enough to gain admittance to that particular world, to the world of smooth, waxed dance-floors and infectious music. In such a place one does not step, one glides. And one does not move, one flies.

It’s true, I’ve not been ironing my shirts. I’m thinking to save electricity. But a clean, ironed shirt was once also normal. This is something else the dream is showing us, a parade of sorts, but not out of vanity, more out of respect for the company one is keeping. There is also a dignity in it. Ah, dignity! Now, that rings a bell. Let’s explore that one.

As I ponder the dream, I recall a quote I heard the previous day about how we are no longer in the business of heating our homes, but “heating our selves”. We have no longer the energy, the spirit needed to afford our own dignity, as in the metaphorical dignity of a warm home. We have bowed too long to the pressures of the manifest world, the world whose will is to strip away all dignity. So we turn the heating off and sit in a sleeping bag, or something equally grotesque. It’s an allegory for the degree to which normality has shifted, the way things have grown narrow, the multitude of ways the music, both the metaphorical and the literal, have grown faint for us.

Oh, I know,… it may just be I am the downhill side of sixty now, and slightly deaf, that the twenty-something’s can still hear, can still ride any storm, still dance to the point of rapture, and thumb their noses at the world of their parents for disgrace it has become. Like many my own age, have I merely traded my Mojo for carpet slippers and a keyboard, and dreams of a past that never actually existed? And yet,…

There is this place I pass in town, a flight of steps, and an old weathered sign with an arrow pointing optimistically upwards, to a disused, dusty attic room. “Dance”, it says. And I wonder. Shall we ever? A clean, pressed shirt, a lady in stockings, skirt split to the thigh? And we shall dance again? Shall we dance like nobody’s watching?

Without the music, without the dance, the world simply is, and what it is, is pointless. To be born into such a world is surely a mistake, for all there is is the blind, grasping will. It manifests through everything, including us if we allow it, and its name is suffering. Without the moderating influence of our desire for transcendence, that’s all we shall ever know. But we were not born to merely live. We were born to dance.

Thanks for listening.

Beautifully acted, and dramatically cut, and the line: “Be this alive, tomorrow,”

But the prize for dance goes to this couple: Be this alive, always:

Header photo courtesy of Pixabay on Pexels.com

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eyes2

So, Friday evening. The last weekend in August now, and the twinkle lights in the garden are pretty in this creeping dusk. It’s also cool out, and the sky is thick with clouds rising for a good downpour. We are sitting at the table beneath the awning, Lottie and I, with dessert, and I’m feeling like a millionaire opposite her. She’s wearing a silvery, floaty dress for dancing, also a cashmere wrap around her shoulders. I would like to have known her as a younger woman, though from what she tells me that would not have been to know the best of her, tortured as she was, and drunk for most of it.

“Where do you find your life’s meaning nowadays, Lottie?”

The question is out before I can stop it. You know how I hate to spoil these quiet, expressive moments between us. Questions only draw a mask upon our faces, and then we cannot see each other properly.

She shrugs, smiles, gives a little shake of the head. The question is a stupid one, so there is no need for a serious answer. I apologise. Then I take out the device on which I carry the photographs she sent me, flash up the first of them, and I show it to her. She responds with an impish grin. I swipe through them slowly, and she responds to each with an inscrutable flick of the eyebrow.

As far as selfies go, they are each of them tasteful to the level of fine art, and I it strikes me, as I am sitting with her, how long she must have spent setting them up. These are none of them the hasty, ill-considered sexting of youth. They are more,… I don’t know what they are: part tease, part invitation, part question.

Do they mean what they seem to mean? It might seem obvious enough to you, when a woman bares her skin to a man, but then the obvious is never the wisest path with Lottie. And yet I cannot ask the question. It’s too much, too crude a thing, and would likely shatter the delight of all our wordless subtleties. I hope she can read the question in my eyes, or at least assume it. But if she can read it, and understand it, her expression, her answer is studiously withheld.

I will not defuse it for you, Rick. You must risk it.

Of course I must.

The problem facing us all is that our evolutionary purpose was long ago replaced by the acquisition of material goods. These have the disadvantage of only satisfying us for a millisecond. Beyond the next consumer fix, we do not know what we want, but that’s fine, because if we don’t know what we want, there is no danger of our failing to attain it, is there? Thus, we wonder why we lack a sense of existential purpose. Worse, there are those like me who say they seek purpose, though still without knowing what it is we want. We have the worst of both worlds then, and both of them are empty.

The voice in me says: “You have to know what you want before you can go for it, Rick.”

Sure, I thought I knew it well enough. I wanted to save the planet. I wanted to vote the Tories out. But it’s dawning on me these things are beyond my competence, when I cannot even save myself. And worse, I suspect I only attempted it to impress a girl.

Is that it, Rick? Is that all there was to it?

Lottie reads my thoughts and blushes.

We move into the garden room where she lights candles, and then we dance.

Still, the question remains between us. It’s in the tension of my arms, and it’s in my legs, and it’s in the expression with which I launch her into the turns, and against which she reacts with spirit. Tango! The dance of seduction. You have to feel it in your bones, and let it come through. Anything else would be a deceit, and she would know it. I accept it as a part of me, that it must come through. What will test me is her rejection and the degree of my disappointment.

In the story of the dance, the woman resists, until the man proves himself. Her resistance is in the tilt of her chin, the turn of her nose, the slant of her shoulder. By degrees though, her passion, and her trust wins through. Except that’s not the part Lottie plays here. From the beginning, she responds with a look and a feel that says if you want it you can have it, but you must still risk the consequences.

Even though you know not what they are.

As a younger man I would not have hesitated, and nor, I suspect, would she. Older now, we merely pause for coffee, and watch the rain. She looks at me and blows away the hair from her eyes, smiles, enjoying every minute of my lumbering discomfiture. She takes up my device which I left lying there, and she dials up a note-pad app, so she can “talk” to me.

She might indeed be the one, and the thing, I am looking for. She might be the hearth and the home, the bed and the warm breast for a pillow. She might be both the company and the purpose. Yes, I might disappear into her for ever, vanish from the world, here in her walled garden, each of us wrapped safe in the other’s eccentricity and imagination. And the strangest thing? Even if I do nothing, we still have all of this. Why then risk a busted flush on one last greedy turn of the card?

But by now the dance has moved on and Lottie has taken the lead, the truth of her being a more determined will than mine. I read it in the straightness of her back, the faint narrowing of her eyes, and in the poise of her hands as they cradle the coffee-cup. She is the feminine in its most benign, and most powerful guise. All the anger and the thwarted energy of her past life, and which she once upon a time anaesthetised with drink, is now sublimated by her strange alchemy into something ever silent but also magical, and merciful and passionate.

She slides the device across so I can see what she has written there:

“Can you bear to have me in your space, Rick? And not question it?”

“Yes.” But more than that: “It would be the finest thing, Lottie, to know that’s where you wanted to be.”

She lowers her coffee-cup, takes my hand, and reads the truth of me in the tremor of it, winks her reassurances. And that, I suppose is that.

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