Friday, May 25, 2007

Dancing the night away.

I don't go out late very often, so when I find myself on the street at night, I feel like I am in a new city. Even the subway is alive in a way it never is during the day. Today I sat next to a beautiful young woman in a long black skirt and black jacket; I had her pegged as a musician, although she didn't carry an instrument. Across from us was a bearded man holding a large canvas. She started talking to him about his painting, he turned it to face us and explained what he was going for (two women, representing winter and spring, identified by color and mood), and asked her what she did. A singer. When my stop came they were still chatting and I wondered if it would be the start of a new romance, or simply another midnight ride on the F train for two people with natural curiosity.

Before the subway I was on a commuter train from upstate, for me the end of a long tiring day, but for almost all of my fellow passengers, the start to a night in the city. Girls in too-tight dresses (I'm no prude, but certain body types are simply not flattered by certain styles), boys in constant motion, up and down the aisles. Laughter and drinking. "Where is the China Club?" a young couple asked the conductor as he punched their tickets. (Their tickets gave them away as much as their question, for regular commuters would have monthly passes.) For the first time in a very long time, I dozed off on the train, just a few minutes before we hit Grand Central. I only came to when people began to pass my seat. An older man stopped to let me get out, but I was still not quite awake and told him I was "not set." Where did that word come from? "Set?" Maybe "ready" was just too long a word, too many sounds, too much effort.

Spinning this tale backwards, I had just spent an evening with family at a young girl's dance recital, followed by dinner in a chinese restaurant. Dance recitals are funny things, as I'm convinced nobody actually finds them entertaining, other than the fleeting moments when a beloved child is on the stage. The rest are just a series of "How many are left?" moments. This one had the added bonus of featuring an adult class, so we got to see a group of middle-aged women tap their way through "Lady Marmalade." As one of my fellow audience members put it, it's one thing to sit and watch other people's kids dance and pretend to enjoy it, but other people's mothers? Oh, but I really am being too harsh. The very littlest girls, even when they weren't my relatives, were always cute. How can you not love the four year old who is so determined to get her arm movements right that she looks like a little helicopter about to rise from the stage?

Painting, music, dance. It's an artful night.


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