It figures on Saturday night I would forget safety pins. It figures the top I intended to wear has small black beads for buttons that pop open if I breathe heavy, which is unavoidable because I dance hard. No safety pin combined with a shoulder shimmy spells disaster, although I heard someone not even wearing a brassiere did an exposure on teevee. Luckily for me our generous host of the wild fiesta had a stapler, and S was able to strategically place a staple through the two layers of fabric to hold the delicate embroidered and beaded top closed. I drew black lines around my eyes, dabbed on lipstick, wrapped myself up in a gold and black veil, and went into the hallway to wait for a cue.
There were nearly fifty people crammed into the sprawling L-shaped living room, little dark-haired and wide-eyed children sitting in the front row, young Goth youths leaning nonchalant against the far wall, couples speaking Spanish piled against eachother on the couches, a sea of faces.
Someone dimmed the lights and someone else started the music and someone else "hushed" and I think I actually floated into the middle of the room because I don't know how else I got there.
The rhythm is the same as the beat of your heart, thrumming through the veins arteries capillaries, a quickening and a flush to the skin. Feel it, become it. I started the song with a slow buildup, pause, expectation, and then an explosion of motion. The costume I chose was discreet with very little exposure because I knew the audience would be all cultures and all ages: a loose cottony black top with long sleeves, a long dark purple skirt that flares wildly when I spin, and a heavy big gold coin belt that drapes between my hips and my mid-thighs. I brushed my hair straight and long down my back.
There are some parts of the dance I recall; throwing my veil to the host, the pause and the breathing and the slight undulation taking up space before the fast series of spins, the faces and wonderful energy source of at least ten children sitting at my feet, the loose high spin with the violin, and immediately following another spin I like to catch the strident drum beats boomboomboombadaboom with articulation on my right hip.
I felt loose and good and comfortable despite the size of the audience, and I danced one full song and half the next before turning a slow circle with hands out palms up, and then exited down the hallway. I know I left them wanting more, but even if I had wanted to do an encore I couldn't have escaped the throng of children who followed me down the hall and mugged me before I could get into the bedroom and change clothes.
They were curious and delightful and sweet, and they ran their sticky pizza-coverd little fingers all over the jangly coin belt, patted my stomach, felt the softness of my skirt, told me "You're the most beautiful!" and "I love you!" and "You picked the perfect music!" and asked my name and wanted me to do it all again. One of them started asking for my autograph in a scratchy warbly voice, and the rest followed suit. They exhausted the supply of scratch paper on the refrigerator and I obliged with dark-lipstick kisses, lacking a pen.
Immediately behind the children in the hall came the Gothy punks all in black with dark hair and pale faces, not much more than kids themselves, and the youngest said, "I just want you to know you're beautiful and an incredible dancer and that was awesome. You could totally come dance for our band?"
Smile and nod, oh sure sweetheart.
"We have some good songs. It's got a name a word very few people know. It's called 'Exegesis,' you know what that means?"
I smiled and said, "Shall I explain it to you?" and let it sink in before asking, "You guys play at clubs around here?"
"Uh, no. We only got a few songs."
Smile graciously and nod some more as the little girls hug my legs and pull my wrists and laugh and smile with me.
And I value the praise that came from the young man from Beirut, whose mother is having a birthday party next Saturday. He said it had been
years since he had seen any dancing worth seeing, and asked me to please come perform next weekend. In true formal manner he asked the party's host, who then asked my husband, who told me later he had shrugged and told them to speak with me about it. Sure, I could do that, I said. His whole family will be there. What have I gotten myself into?
But the praise I value most comes from my sweet man, whose lovely blue eyes shine when I catch them for a quick wink as I spin around the room.