Thursday, 2 September 2010

Let's Dance!

Diddley, diddley dum. Diddley, diddley, deee.

Guess what we did last night?

Can't guess?
OK I'll tell you.

We watched a DVD of Riverdance! Remember the amazing stage success that was an offshoot of the Irish half time display during one of those interminable Eurovision Song Contest TV specials?

It certainly was awarded more that Nil points (has to be said with a strong French accent), and went on to be a massive international phenomena.

This is a video of that original performance back in 1994, from that six minute entertainment came the whole show!

Oh my it was wonderful, my feet were tapping, tears misting my eyes as those irrepressible Irish lads and lassies twirled across the stage of Radio City in perfect formation (the envy of many a drill-sergeant), hair whirling and feet moving faster than the speed of light. Must be my Irish blood coming to the fore...

Anyway rampant emotions aside it opened a maelstrom of memories, and kept me awake half the night as I relived them all. When I really get down to thinking abut travel and wondering what it means to me there are a number of avenues that my mind can take me down. The iniquities of wealth and poverty, the cultural imperialism of my country, but the avenue that brings me most pleasure is that of music.

My first visit to the South West of Ireland began with a wild ride from the airport in Cork to a local ceilidh and an immediate introduction into the Bacchanalian rites of Irish Dance. I danced my feet off, whirling and laughing,struggling to keep up.Handed from person to person,trying not to trip over my own feet. Partners from the youngest to the oldest members of the community. It was wonderful. Everyone joins in, they all know the steps and the invigoration of social interaction was intense. Mind you I could hardly move for days after, sweet memories.

Countries will be forever associated with musical events in my head. The soulful singing of the drunken fishermen in Portugal. They were sitting in the only bar in the village where we were anchored, their voices floating down the hillside to our cockpit. Sad, slightly off key but immersed in the words of their culture. It made us think of the continuity of village life.

Spain where the rhythm of flamenco lit the fire in my blood, the drumming of heels on the wooden stage, the violence of the staccato hand claps. The intense sexuality of the dancers , creating extraordinary forms of the human body, writhing and whirling across the stage. Did you know that the female flamenco dancers often dance their way to orgasm?? A round of applause from the troupe, a glass of water and a quick sit down to recover from the event and they are off again. Fascinating.

Gibraltar where the 300th birthday of the Nation was celebrated with a concert by Elton John. We sat on the deck of the boat in the drizzle with a bottle of wine and sang along to 'Saturday Night', 'Crocodile Rock' and all the other wonderful classics.

The Caribbean islands with their gospel and steel bands. TBH's Dad always claimed that he was one of the sponsors of the first steel bands in Trinidad, where he lived back in the 40's, donating his dustbin lids to the cause of music making!

Central America with it's wild Latin beat, even the music in the supermarkets gets your hips swaying. Little kids sashay across the room with that Latino strut that makes me smile every time.

And Cuba! Ah what can I say about Cuba. Music everywhere, dance, classical, latin, contemporary. All accompanied by the infectious sound of laughter and the wide smiles of the Cubans. If ever there was a place that could win over your soul it is here.
Walking across the town late one night TBH and I spied a group of local youths clustered around a bench. Oh Oh , could be trouble. Were we ever wrong. The dozen local lads were practising their Beatle numbers to the accompaniment of a lone guitar. Magic, pure magic.

The cry of the muezzin early in the morning as the faithful are called to prayer in Morocco. It sends a tingle up my spine just thinking about it. So foreign, so alien to where I come from, so evocative of the heat, the desert, the vast continent of Africa.

Oh and drums, and kids singing and and. I could go on and on.

It made me sad too. I can't remember the last time I danced . Too old, too fat, husband with no sense of rhythm, bless him. But that's gonna change!! You are never too old, so they say and as the newspaper's are telling me that 54 is the new 40 my time has come. Stand back world!

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