Dancing Queens

Queen and I were roaming together come day two in Liverpool. I did not know yet that she was a dancing queen, but she is. The entire study abroad group had done a little more touring of the city that morning and bought calling cards and similar day to day maintenance things needed while living here. I had to be reprimanded because though I told someone I was going to the toilet, they neglected to tell the others and momentarily thought they’d lost me. Due to my wandering spirit it would not be the last time, but it would be doing more adventurous and fun things then visiting the toilet. (If you ask for the restroom they look at you like you’re crazy.) Now the afternoon was ours.

The dormitory we are staying at is close to a colossal and Eden-like park called Sefton Park. It is the host of the fourth annual African Goya festival. The day was bright and simultaneously overcast, a skill that this British Isle has perfected. This particular afternoon it only taunted rain, having drizzled a bit in the morning, and didn’t actually come down on us. Queen and I drifted in and out of the circle of tents and booths. All kinds of food, Jamaican/Caribbean, Arabic, Somalian and more, were available. Breathtaking colours of linens composed the clothing being sold alongside a vast array of jewellery and crafts and different medians of art. I couldn’t resist and added to my collection of hats and bought a top of royal blue shaded to a wine red and intricately embroidered.

The art of West African dance was being tutored at one of the booths. With a very little coaxing I got Queen to agree to take the next class with me. In the meantime we gravitated to the stage where Daby Toure, a phenomenal guitarist and singer was performing with his band. After about twenty minutes we were sold, and wandered to the music booth where they were selling CD’s. We weren’t the only fans, because they were sold out. I wrote down their information to track them down later and we made to doubly enjoy the rest of their performance. We ran into Chip, and Chip being Chip, he took it upon himself as a personal quest to get their CD for us. When they finished performing he went backstage and got to speak with all of them, got an autograph and pictures but—they didn’t have any extra CD’s unfortunately.

Whilst he worked at that task, Queen and I headed over to the dance booth for our class. Now, not to be disparaging to my roots, but quite frankly, we do NOT emphasize or learn dance. Queen and I come from a similar background, albeit from different sides of the lower forty-eight. The dance is spectacular and its core is being able to do body isolations; rolling the shoulders, now shifting the feet, now both at the same time then circling the ribs, the walking/knee lifting, then both followed by some hip circles. Suffice to say, Queen and I were in WAY over our heads. Lots of giggling ensued. Our instructor made it look easy and was so connected to her own body. That combined with a fantastic smile made her mesmerizing. It was fantastic to witness, how couldn’t it be? She obviously is passionate and loves what she does. I don’t know how they do it really; I can’t concentrate on that many things at once. I got the hip circling down pat, but then I had to roll my shoulders and do a 360 all at the same time. I’d forget to roll my shoulders, or somehow only roll one and end up sort of jerking one hip to get turned around. Luckily I only ran into a couple of the others learning with us. I couldn’t say how Queen did because I couldn’t spare any attention for anything else, but in comparing notes afterwards, it sounds like we have the same awkward groove. We celebrated exerting ourselves for the entire hour and our mad skills in… something other than dance. The hair jutting out of my new hat clung and dripped on my neck and my body tingled in its layer of glisten. I was a bit sore the next day too. And the best horrifying part about it is somewhere in the middle I looked over to see Chip with his camera out recording. I haven’t been able to convince him to destroy the evidence yet.

The lesson having mercifully finished, the three of us got some water and Arabic food. Chip and I engaged in our first (of many, MANY, more to come) debate on gender roles. He ordered for me, which I thought was weird, which he thought was weird. “Why don’t you just pay for me while you’re at it?” I asked. “I was going to!” he replied. “Why?” I asked, “Wow, you are so old fashioned.” I didn’t yet realize how serious he was, as I don’t believe he realized how serious I was, but we had a good time teasing and bantering for and with the man that waited on us, he thought we were hilarious. I’m sure we were.

The day couldn’t have been complete without me getting us lost on the way home. Luckily, Chip isn’t ashamed to ask for directions. And now I know the area quite well for going on runs and such.

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