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Friday, February 15, 2008

Dancing in Miami

If I may boast a little bit, but last night...last night was ecstatic. I gave in. I gave in to that anxious, reverberating music of noxious nighttime and kinetic yearning. And giving in is sure to be one of two things. Either a shameful embarrassment, a meek shuffling off the dance floor when you realize how awkward things have gotten, or it's a effusive triumph mixed with the pounding rhythm of the moment with the elation of the crowd watching.

I've been in Miami for the past two days. Tons and tons to talk about. Tons and tons of things to observe, ponder, and experience. 2 nights ago, I ventured into Miami Beach wondering what all the hubbub was. Entered some cush hotel and bounded through the doors where I heard the rumba drum pounding out into the electric night. A brass horn, a golden trumpet blew its sonorous message out into the charged atmosphere. The band was Cuban as was most of the crowd. All the people in the lounge, sat at fancy dining tables. Glasses and silver forks sparkling in the brilliance of the vibe. Everyone swayed. Everyone clapped. Everyone wanted to dance, but the dining tables all held their dominion over the floor and reminded everyone of decent formality. But all heard the music call...and maybe only a drunk or two responded in full.

Last night, I decided to go to downtown Miami, explore a bit. Walked a good deal finding nothing of spectacular interest. My feet were worn out. That day was one of the most difficult with my job. UPS had sent 13 large boxes of Tshirts to the wrong store. Both Walgreen's stores were around the Little Havana area. But driving in the Miami traffic during the day is not the most stress-free of rides. I had to build a rack in one store and then turn around and lug all these heavy boxes to the other store, a good many street lights and honked horns away, and set up a rack there. Only stopping for a break to catch a nice Cuban cuisine where none of the staff spoke English. Looking around the place, I was sure I had the only blue eyes for blocks around. The busy day ended and what should I desire to do but, like I said, go exploring. My feet already felt like discarded slabs of Cuban ham that the places I ate threw out. I drove into the main heart of Miami. Near the port area where all the yachts were lining up being reflected like liquid silver in the bouncing water.

Lights and lights. And noise...not the annoying noise of busyness, but the gracious noise of life being lived at full throttle. Near this port area is this plaza and park where shops and restaurants line the docks. Crowds of people all chatting to one another in Spanish. I felt out of place, my yellow hair hanging down like cornsilk reflected almost white in the streetlamps. Almost a head taller than everyone else and oblivious to all conversation, I walked about the social scenes uncomprehendingly, pale face and hair glistening in the shadows of the gulf.
Music streamed every which way, but the largest crowd was assembled in a little arena. For the longest while, the people just sat before what looked to be a band at break. But this was a long time. Eventually the band returned. The guitars were hoisted, the drumsticks tapped, and the microphone was delicately held and then sang into. Besides the band they had this dancing girl. She was amazing. Both in looks and in movement. Her legs and hips swung to the beat of the drums. Salsa echoed throughout her limbs and you could feel the intensity of the latino beat in the momentuous sweep of her beautiful joints unified into one melodic spirit. I like women who can dance; I always have. This siren of movement was hired by the band to dance, probably to entrance the onlookers who were male. But she would hold CDs of the band and go about playing the part of a graceful advertising agent.

Aside from her, few people were dancing. Except for two or three of the people who really didn't really care about standing out. One guy in particularly, contended with the beautiful girl for the audience's attention. It was this old black man, with beard and baseball cap of the Pirates of the Caribbean. He resembled a famous relic, a notorious folk icon from my hometown, called Dancing Dave who would range the highways all dressed in white with tap shoes on and if anyone honked their horns as they drove by then he would in return give them a little jig. This guy looked just like Dancing Dave, except he was much smaller. It must have been Dancing Dave's brother. This homeless man danced all around like some aboriginal shaman before the savage drum beats of a solstice ritual. I kept musing, "I wonder what that guy's thinking. Is he insane? Surely, he must be the happiest person here."

Then every now and then various people would get up and dance, but for the most part the spectators vastly outnumbered any dancers. And all the while, I could hear that call. But I was reluctant. I would not give in. There is something highly reserved and shy about me sometimes. It's almost as though at times I am embarrassed to even being caught smiling. I just want to remain somber and solemn, mouth shut and the self bottled up. But then there is this wild man inside, and I need not explain...It's the flip side of a complex coin. How can it be that a living human being can desire solitude and yet yearn for the limelight at the same time?
The salsa and mamba continued wafted out onto the waves mirroring the hypnotic city lights. This crowd was a fun bunch. They were of all ages and races and economic types. Nobody was trying to act cool or nothing. Usually that sinks all the fun, when everyone is wondering what the other person's thinking. No, these people were enjoying themselves. This older lady began to feel the music's pulse and was down in front of the crowd her friends cheering her on.

The band moved into some early rock and played "Johnny Be Good" and it's all I could do but clutch a rail to keep myself from charging out there. Why didn't I have a friend with me so I wouldn't be that guy...the type of guy who dances when it's just him, him alone. And it would be perfectly fine if whatever friend I had with me didn't dance, but was just there to egg me on. Then the realization hit. I'm here in Miami on a Friday night. I'll never live this situation again. In the middle of a slow song, I caught myself thinking, "Alright,if they play another fast upbeat song. I'm heading out there. I'm asking that older lady to dance with me."

The next song was fast and full of vibe. I tapped on the lady's shoulder and asked her to dance. Juanita and I hit the dance floor. (Although I never really caught her name, Juanita will suffice and probably had the greatest probability of her being named that.)

Juanita didn't speak English. But she and her friends passed for less South Floridians with their paler skin and lighter hair. I twirled and spun her around to the entranced tempo of drums and the piano synthesized to sound like a brass instrument. After a few twirls and turns we were being watched exclusively by a large portion of the audience. Then the dance was over and I felt exuberant about the whole experience. Why did I ever hesitate?

I was going to rest my weary legs when it just so happened that "Sweet Home Alabama" began to play. I couldn't sit this one out. I tried to exclaim to Juanita and her friends that I was from Alabama and this meant that I had to dance during this song. Then I bounded out in from of the audience. Juanita trailing behind me. More energy was accumulating inside me, I was forgetting the soreness in my feet. All I could feel was the rhapsodic gusto of that time and place. During the song, I even displayed my driver's license and started dancing while I held it up so everyone would get the point. The others far in the back of the arena was probably wondering what I was holding up.

By the end of this song, it was all over then. I mean with my inhibition. I was clearly broken out of my shell, foxtrotting giddily ontop of it. Every song I moved, shook, jived, and cavorted in the middle of the dancefloor with Juanita by my side. The crowds eyes and smiles were upon me. More people got up to dance, they wanted to feel that electric fun, catch a wild note from the band and send them vibrantly frolicking. I even had the crowd cheer me when I would do a handspring or when I would get Juanita to step up on some steps to make her my height and then dance as if everything was natural. Juanita was a short one...that crazy lady. She even kissed me on the cheek. The music winded down and I did a one man show entertainingly jerking to the lasting piano strikes while the crowd looked on in cheers. I tell you the night was charged with glee and joy. Miami...I'm really beginning to love this place.

1 Comments:

Blogger ПАПА said...

That was some good writing, I was almost there...watching that silly, slender guy from Alabama. Glad you let your hair down. You probably made Juanita's night...she is probably still talking about it today

9:43 AM  

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