By Priyanka Bropujari | 2012/13 IWMF Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow
October 8, 2012
How happy I was this afternoon, and still happy at the thought of it. So this is how it was: I walked down to the Downtown Crossing on the side of the Red line train. As usual, there as someone playing music. Today, though, it was very peppy music, the kind that makes you wanna dance.
I went nearer to see the musician and it was a short Afro-looking guy, with a red tee and huge black goggles, the kind in which you can see every detail of yourself. He was playing an instrument like the Casio keyboard, but it was strapped around him like a guitar. And he had brilliant acoustics.
In front of him was a huge bucket where people could give in money. Next to him was an Afro-looking girl, who was dancing very very modest steps. her steps were mostly facing the wall. My head began to nod unconsciously. I wanted to dance, for just a little bit.So I tapped her on the shoulder and told her I’d like to join her. She gave me a huge smile; I dropped my bag and began to move.
Her steps had stepped out of the corner she was dancing in modestly. We spread out and danced. And danced. I needed to shut my eyes for few moments to let the music get into me, to feel liberated, to let my hands and feet and entire body move. And I moved, and danced. I danced for about 7 minutes and then the train came. I thought I could get onto the next train. When the next one arrived, and I decided to let it go, that’s when I realised that I was having fun in a serious way.
The girl and I had many coordinated moves and it was fun. I wanted to take off the jacket but wasn’t sure with the tiny top that I was wearing. But people began to swarm and watch us. It was a Sunday; the trains were delayed, but I doubt anyone was complaining. We were being watched, smiled at, photographed, videoed. One lady joined us midway; another man joined us too. He wanted to dance with me but I wasn’t too comfortable with that. Nevertheless, the idea was to just have pure raw fun. Trains came and went, people came and went, but we danced. And in enjoying ourselves, I am confident we gave a lot of people enough reasons to smile and have the fleeting feeling of wanting to dance too.
At one point, a boy on the other platform began to clap in rhythm. I clapped back, but somehow, the music was much more fun than clapping. But I am not a good dancer and I am aware of that. But I do enjoy dancing and I am aware of that. My enjoyment in dancing reflects around my being and that is what is important, and I am aware of that. And people enjoy to see raw passionate and I exude that while dancing, uninhibited, unbothered about steps being manly or ladylike, and I am aware of that.
In following our passions can we make people smile. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon. I had not had the chance to sweat profusely since one whole month, since I got here to this country. This afternoon, I sweat, doing what I enjoyed. The musician was having a great time seeing us enjoy, and many people did put in money into his bin. Did they assume we were part of his troupe? Did the people think of us as mad? I care not. The girl and I did enough hip shakes and hip twirls and crazy fun stuff.
Two cops with the subway system were happy to come around and see us dance. Two of them, at least twice, tried to do a step or two, but I guess they felt restricted to do so in their uniform. They were young, good-looking Afro-American men. I wish they could break away from their chains for few moments!
Finally, I whispered to my musician that I would be taking the next train, and that I would love to dance to one cool fast number. He smiled and nodded and adjusted something on his “sound box” (that’s what I’ll call it since I have no idea what it was). He played the music “Super Freak” by Rick James.
Yoohooo! I jumped, yelled and did my body swayed to the fastest moves. It wasn’t my head doing, I swear. My body just moved. Finally, the train came and I gave him a tight hug, so also to the girl, and jumped into train. Oh! How happy I was!And when I walked back, tired and with aching legs towards home, I realised this is what is also a good reflection of the American idea – to be super freaks, uninhibited, without bothering about what anyone thinks. Just freeing ourselves from our bondages of “what will they think”. So here’s a great start to enjoy the Fall season, and smile at a surely positive week and wholesome month ahead!