So let me set the stage…early 80’s…San Francisco, Sunset District close to the beach…where in the summer time patrons would be lined up out the door and down the block waiting to enter into a dimly lit den of richly tapestried rooms; each with their own theme, named for the colors of the prayer rugs draped on the walls where the exotically scented and delicately seasoned aroma of lamb and couscous wafted through the air…where the patina of the low brass tables looked like it was centuries old…where they could enter into the mosaic of experiences that are a traditional Moroccan meal. The ritualistic hand washing with rose citrus scented waters, the tea pouring done from so far away the waiter seems to be in another country….
The patrons who lined up were the up and coming…the artists and bohemians… pre-med from UCSF, the gay crowd pre HIV…..they were the movie stars and Superbowl winners…they were the family next door and the family from the Midwest on their California vacation…
If any of you have worked in this type of place there usually is a big room and several small intimate rooms off of the grand room (Where unfortunately the speakers are smaller, I hate that)! In the large room you have the center…this is where I learned how to dance in the round…it is the small rooms that taught me to make magic in one place…of course this is is all to taped music…YES, even before CD’s, so you had better have a bag full of cassettes that you liked, the WHOLE side…not just one cut!!
It was one hot evening…you know the ones that are rare in the Bay Area; where natures air conditioning is taking a break for a day or two. A night that that held the heat so much that I sweat as I changed.
I’m sure I’m like alot of people, the summer ignites my sensual side, not in a sexual way, but in a sense way. My body is literally more open as I am, more receptive to people, their emotions as well as everything around me. This might be particularly true for bellydancers, it’s an integral part of the experience if you are not on a proscenium stage,,,that’s my experience anyway. In addition to listening to your music and performing, there are other layers of consciousness occurring simultaneously. Observing the audience, the dynamics between each member of the group, the group dynamics…whose engaged with you, who is shut off from you. Plus my observation of me, how I’m feeling. Am I staying open and receiving as much as putting forth, or is it bouncing off the walls and returning to me without touching my audience. Physically I want to stay in an observant mode; the hundreds…ahh, the thousands of improvised performances have contributed to my teaching curriculum.
So enough babble, let me tell you about one of those hot summer nights!