Friday, June 19, 2009

Dancing with myself… in front of the mirror.

What else is that mirror there for?

One of the things I always wanted to enjoy in Africa was the dancing. Note: I have extremely limited dancing skills. Not a lot has changed in that domain since I got to Africa, but the difference here is that it just doesn’t matter.

I went out tonight with all my co-workers from the Youth Center. Makala has one club in town. And that’s all you need. The club has the required mirror. In the US, only ballerinas get the advantage of checking themselves out while dancing. Otherwise, you look like a tool. Here, not only is it acceptable to watch yourself dance in the full-length mirror, it’s expected. Don’t have any friends, or a partner to dance with? Head towards the mirror. It can also be useful if you don’t want to dance with persistent men. Point to the mirror, as though indicating that you’re already taken. I have done this.

Here it seems kids start dancing a little after the time they start walking. Brooke told me a story once of watching a friend go wild on the dance floor, and thinking he must have been drunk. Nope, he’s a Muslim non-drinker. People here just enjoy moving in whatever way they feel. No one passes a judgment on how you look, contrary to the US. Even one of my co-workers, who is a mother of five, was out on the floor with us. (True, she left the eight-month-old at home.)

So when we went out tonight, not only did I embrace the mirror, but the club had just washed down the dance floor with some slippery substance. It made for some out-of-control (literally) moves. The icing on the cake is that I’m doing all this in the same outfit I’ve been wearing for three days. Not entirely my choice, and I won’t get into the turn of logistical events that led to this level of high fashion, but, again, people here just don’t care. Lots of people wear the same thing for days in row! And at the club, they’re glad to see you—performing your dirty-clothed, uncoordinated moves, with or without the benefit of the mirror.