Between day 2 & 3

Getting lost at night, walking for hours, trying to find the subway. I come to a square with hundreds of people milling around. No, they are not milling, they are engaged in different physical pursuits. They are dancing. Over here are the roller skaters, wheeling round and round a central point, which consists of a bicycle, some boxes and a loud speaker with pop music blaring. Over here are disco line dancers. About ten lines deep, 30 people to each line, moving in unison timing, each in his/her own way, young and old. I can’t see a leader, but everybody seems to know what to do when the music changes. I move further around the square, here are lines of women dancing Chinese folk dance, led by two women who perform, smiling, engrossed in their dance. The women follow behind in lines, knowing what to do, old, young, fat, thin, energetic, minimal, many versions of the same material. The music blares out – but strangely drowning the disco happening 10 yards away. I walk on. Next there are the tango couples, with their own space, their own sound system, ignoring the sounds from around. Then lines of men two-stepping, separately but facing the women, a courtly dance, not touching, stiff and upright. Moving on I observe the fan dancers, in lines waving their colorful fans in unison rhythm. A big crowd is clustered round.

between day 2 & 3

between day 2 & 3

I am caught up in the sounds, the closeness of the bodies, each group of dancers’ oblivion of the existence of other formations, yet knowing they are all there together.  Out to socialize, to dance together on a hot summer’s evening – every evening. The mundane ordinariness of the repetitive actions becomes special when performed by large numbers of people, everybody dancing alone, but together.  How are the spaces divided? I wonder, does this depend on how many turn up, or are the territories fixed?  The observers form a wall around each dancing group, acting as a boundary. I wander along the periphery catching glimpses, atmospheres, moods, dancing styles. Skirting the square are walkways and trees, couples resting, kissing, old men lying on their backs on benches working their abdominals, young children roller skating round trees, little children, heads shaved, naked, pissing on the ground.

I slip amongst the crowds, stared at by those closest, otherwise invisible, and drinking in what is an every day activity here.

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