So I think that I have finally figured out one of the main reasons I love living in Africa so much!
Besides truly enjoying the weather, hands down it is the cultural love of dancing that makes me so happy. Here music and dancing are such a joyful part of life. I have simply not been able to dance this much since I was in under-grad university a long, long time ago.
Africans embrace dance in a way that I have not experienced any where else in the World that I have been lucky enough to travel to. For me it is a match made in heaven.
Last night we headed out to a Dance Battle held at Alliance Francaise were we got to enjoy as spectators incredible dancers of all ages take on each other in various styles of dance to a wide variety of music. The contestants ranged from 9 or 10 years old to 40’s. No one was considered too young or old to compete – you gotta love that attitude and spirit!
Sheila (heavy purse & all) and I arrived early enough to score excellent stage front seats which just happened to be behind the judges table. Of course before the event even started there was great music being played and we simply could not sit still. With the arrival of Erin, lets just say our urge to dance and maybe misbehave a little grew. So as we sat in our seats, singing alone, chair dancing and generally just laughing like crazy fools we no doubt drew a little attention.
In fact several times one of the judges turned around and told me that I should go enter my name as a dance battle contestant. Yay, that would have been something to watch! Me humiliating myself in front of a hundred people. I can see it now. Politely declining each time she mentioned it, I tried to sit still to no avail. And let me clarify here, I was not the only one of the trio who was acting like a silly fool. Spirits were definitely high among our trio.
More than couple times during the battle rounds we were in fits of laughter so hard our cheeks and bellies hurt! One particular episode was the results of two male dancers who faced off against each other both wearing bright red shoes. One was the guy in his 40’s, the other a young guy in his early 20’s. It was definitely one of the rounds that will be stuck in all of our memories for a while to come and I will not disclose the reasons for our mirth in order to protect the pride of those involved. Let’s just say that the red shoes were definitely compensation for lacking in other areas….;)
The other most memorable dancer was a 10 year boy from France who definitely had his own unique style. Who says that “White Boys can’t dance”? He actually made it to the semi-final round after having a nap stretched out in his mother’s lap. And just like any typical man who is sound asleep and hears his name, he immediately sprang into action. Causing our trio who was sitting next to him and his parents to explode with laughter.
Following the conclusion of the dance battle the dance floor was opened up for all to enjoy. I don’t think that I need to mention that our trio couldn’t wait to hit the dance floor. My first dance partner was the professional dancer and judge who had been encouraging me to join the competition. Let’s just say that once the shoes came off there was more than a little bit of bootie shaking as I am trying to perfect my African dancing style. Following an hour and half of solid dancing I was desperately thirsty and that was the one thing that was not contained in Sheila’s meal time purse.
So as I was heading inside of the Alliance Francaise building (the dance floor was outside in the courtyard) I was stopped on the step several times by individuals that I didn’t even know. Their comments were all similar: ” you are really enjoying yourself aren’t you?” or ” I have been watching you all evening having a great time”.
As my friends put it, I am leaving a legacy here in Africa and it has nothing to do with my volunteer work. I am leaving a wake of mayhem, smiles, laughter and my own individual style of dance that seems to make everyone smile. So maybe I will never win a Noble Peace Prize but maybe next time I will enter the dance competition and come out as the Dancing Queen.