Friday, October 14, 2011

Dancing Soul Dancing in Seoul

It’s 2 in the morning, and I’m covered in sweat. I just peeled off my outer shirt and hung it up to dry. My inner shirt is next although it is one of those wicking thingies, so it’s mostly dry already. I’ve spent an hour dancing. In a club. Like nobody was watching.

I seriously needed to get my mojo back. I felt like a husk of a woman, so I decided I must dance. It is my ultimate mojo maker. When I dance, I am the most beautiful woman in the world. Hands down. In Korea, I’m pretty much not even recognized as a woman. Every Western man already has a gal or has yellow fever – they are out. Korean men don’t even realize I’m a woman – they are out. Women? Well, that ship has pretty much sailed. So here I am all 40 some years of sensuality and passion, and nowhere to put it. Something inside of me is withering away to have no sex, no kissing, no hugging, and damn near no flirting. It’s like my best friend is being ignored. That sucks rocks. As in it's creating actual depression in me. I need lust. But lust is not to be found here in this place. I refuse to go looking for it in a bottle of tequila and a wedge of lime. So I dance. I dance to be a woman. I dance to love myself. I dance to remember. It's almost as good as decent sex. Almost. Ah well.


It’s a trendy club in Seoul, costing more money to get in than it cost me to buy the beautiful new sweater hanging in my closet. Men in suits with earpieces are at every doorway separating the haves from the have-nots (Yes, I’m a have-not), the bar staff are all young and beautiful and interesting. They too are have-nots. The light show is full of geometric designs – all in blue, and the music reverberates through my whole body.

Irina, my close friend, says, “Let’s dance in the middle.” Her Russian accent turns her “middle” into “meedle,” and I can’t help but smile. I follow her – she’s usually the brave one. Her command of the Korean language helps, but it’s more than that. I’m shy in new situations. I think no one really wants to meet me / talk to me / be close. Old voices die hard in the noodle. I follow her to the dance floor, expecting to skirt around the edges, but she goes right into the middle, right in the limelight, right in the empty space where everyone can see us – including the people looking down from the balcony. Panic comes knocking on my door. What the hell am I doing here? But I asked her to go dancing. I can’t back out now. So there we are, circles of light flashing all around us, the DJ doing his DJ thang, and she starts moving. I swear that girl’s hips are like a roller coaster. They swing out farther and faster than anything I’ve seen. I can do this.

Closing my eyes, I am back in So. America. Peru, actually. My friend Carolina is urging me onto the bar with her. Yep, that’s the correct preposition – ONTO the bar. Now in Seoul, I remember that time, and all the people who encouraged me then. The cheers, the smiles, the pictures, the love. Not far behind appear the men who wanted me, appreciated me, couldn’t get enough of me. They flash through my mind, and I start to feel my Womanness flowing again. I wonder if it’s a problem that I’m on one continent wishing I were on another. But I digress. It’s not the time to think of that. I just keep my eyes closed, and I dance.

Throughout the night I morph into different people, memories, stories. I become that fat old and white gal who sure danced a mean disco. I become the woman in the blue dress dancing alone at Oprah’s flash mob with the Black Eyed Peas. I’m a dark goddess saying a prayer that only my body can speak. I’m the Designated Ugly Fat Friend in a moment of weakness. And then I’m an athlete with taped feet, a member of Group Motion with its Pamila-shaped space that is always waiting for me, I’m a woman who spends four days moving to the rhythm of drums for 8 hours a day in the mountains of New York. I’m one of the women that people speak of when they say “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” I am more than myself in this dance. I am all that is good, bad, ugly, and beautiful in Woman.

At some time in the evening it becomes a point of pride that I keep dancing while my (younger) friend stops, takes two breaks. I continue. The 20-something beautiful Korean women, with their lace and high heels, who bob and sway to the music can’t hold a candle to me. I spin and twirl and move from ghetto girl to Bollywood chorus to disco queen as they stand back, not really doing anything but watching me and my friend. Occasionally I hear “wow” from them and wonder if it’s about me. It doesn’t seem malicious; it seems to coincide with some Martha Graham negative space passionate movement that rushes out of me, though. Yes, they are watching. I almost wonder what they are thinking when they see me, but then the DJ – some beautiful, talented man – puts on another song - this time with soul brass and an underbeat full of salsa rhythm banged out of a djembe. I'm too busy moving to care what they think of me. And right then I become yet again a reincarnation. This time I become Pamila Jo.

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