~ Tuesday, July 06, 2004 ~
Home again, home again, hustley hustle.
Sometimes, going out alone to a dance I've never been to before feels like a blind date with 50 strangers, and there's not even any guarantee my "date" will pay any attention to me at all. It can take a considerable act of will to decide I look sufficiently nice and to kick myself out the door. It's a bit easier now that I only have a little time left here, because I have the added motivation of "it's now or never" to spur me onward. Inspired by Gary, Rebecca, and the aforementioned "now or never" sentiment, I went to Dance Sport for a hustle night last night, for the first time ever, even though I've sort of been planning to go all year.
I'm glad I went. The dancers I followed led me through stuff I didn't know I could do and they were actually enthusiastic about teaching an (admittedly obvious) beginner. Apparently this is where the hustle teachers go to dance or something. It was doubly pleasurable because when I walked in I was sort of intimidated by the trashy gangster aesthetic most of the guys affected in their dress (to me, they looked like the people who started fights in high school, only older...the girls, for their part, looked more discofabulous than trashy, or perhaps I'm just more inured to girls looking trashy and I don't notice it) so I was hesitant to ask any of them to put their hands on me, even in the dance framework (haha) but really, all they cared about was dancing. Either that or they were all gay. :) There wasn't even any alcohol available, which is a marked anomaly; there was only a cooler filled with orange Hi-C (or some derivative) and a plate of sliced red apples drizzled with lemon juice so they wouldn't turn brown. Yum. Besides all that, it was only $7.
I was there for over two hours--a short evening, by most standards--and I only danced six dances with five guys, but that was because of a combination of three factors: first of all, I spent some time in the beginning being afraid to ask anyone, but content to watch the couples go; secondly, I later dove into a conversation about religion and human interaction with one of my partners, a civil engineer from Brooklyn who was dressed like a pimp and, I kid you not, said, "My friends call me Suede" (he was actually really cool--he wasn't at all surprised that I'm both rabbinate-bound and female, and he had some very interesting things to say about the difference between being a congregational rabbi and being a chaplain, which he compared to commercial and domestic engineering, and then to leading and following); and thirdly, the dances there just sort of go on until the dancers want to stop, because the DJ blends one song into the next. Each of these dances must have ranged between 10 and 20 minutes (not that I noticed the passage of time). My first dance was with a guy named Miguel who smelled of cigarettes, but for once I didn't mind so much. He gave me a lesson in technique which consisted of him saying things like, "Just relax," "Keep spotting on my forehead," and "Let your arms go free," and I really *was* able to follow much more easily than usual...though most of it was certainly due to his flawless leading. He said he wanted me to be in a performance group he's starting, which I declined (that's a little too rash, even for me, and anyway, I'm about to move to Philadelphia) and then he gave me his card and I learned he's both a teacher and a "world hustle champion".
I decided to walk home afterward--it was on Broadway and 60th, so it was a nice just-over-a-half-hour walk--and I was so glowingly buzzed and so in need of evaporating (yeah, I don't quite have the cool-and-effortless thing down yet) that I really had no desire to descend into a steamy subway and stand still for 15 minutes waiting for a train. Did I mention New York is a sauna now? Half the time the air is hot and drenched, and the other half of the time, the sun's out. Because they blast the AC in the subway cars, the heat from the AC units combines with the already high air temperature to make the subway stations like garbage cans for unwanted heat. Thus, I walked up CPW, where I was greeted with some appreciative comments coming from the park bench sitters (a little weird, but I was in such a good mood that I just felt flattered instead...one guy said I should sit down and talk with him if I had time, and when I grinned and kept walking, he just laughed and said , "Okay, have a good evening!" It was all good-natured like that, and not scary) AND, as if to crown the evening, just as I reached 97th St. a surplus of fireflies flitted out over the park wall to light my path for the last six blocks. Wheeeee.
~ prattled by Miriam at 1:42 p.m. [+]
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