Friday, June 12, 2009

Dancin' in the Dark

I've had three consecutive successful Friday nights. Consequently, it's how many Fridays I've been back in Northern Virginia since moving up from the Burg. They have all had to do with reunions and they have all involved diverse activities. I am generally very happy with being back in NoVa. I miss Williamsburg but starting my new chapter up here has been great for the most part. I'm saying yes to everything: concerts, outdoor movies, golf lessons, late night band appearances, jobs I have no business doing, etc.

I've gotten in a few fights with DC, mainly the fact that you can't find parking at a metro anytime you want, they are usually full to overflowing after 10am, and that causes problems with my work schedule. And also the fact, that if I want to get home late at night, I'll have to be able to park at metro stations. I foresee problems in this area. But other than that, it feels good to be back in this area and I feel spurred towards new and different activities. Which brings me to the inspiration for tonight's post: the Gipsy Kings at Wolf Trap.

I cannot imagine watching this show seated in an auditorium, the music literally picks you up and sets your shoulders shimmying. It's been a while since I've been to Wolf Trap, I'm trying to think if the last time I was there actually was the night before I left to go to William and Mary to start college. I saw Blues Traveler and G Love and Special Sauce. It was a good show. I don't think I've been back since. Also, I went with my former youth group leader, the lovely, talented and effervescent Kate Hays. Kate impressed me first with her car: a dark green VW cabrio with a beige interior and a kickin' sound system, basically my dream car at 16, except mine would have been blue. Also by loving Bruce Springsteen (I totally knew she would have an impression on my life when we both started belting out the lyrics to Thunder Road simultaneously). She encouraged impromptu dance parties to bad 80's music and it sealed the deal for me, we were obviously kindred spirits. She helped me pick out prom dresses and introduced me to Loehmann's, for which I am forever grateful.

Tonight, Kate and I reunited, and I couldn't have asked for a better venue for a reunion or for a concert. The night was humid and warm, it sprinkled a little on us right before the show started but it was short and very light. Then the skies cleared, and the stars came out to listen. I went to this concert based solely on the fact that I wanted to see Kate, and that I had heard the Gipsy Kings put on a good show. Of course, I know the one song everyone knows, Bamboleo. And I was expecting some fun rhythms, but I did not expect a three-hour latin dance party. Basically, as soon as it got dark enough for everyone to stop being self-conscious, if you weren't too drunk you were up and dancing. And I don't mean just swaying from side to side, I mean full on salsa, arms cocked, hips doing moves Shakira would use in her music videos, and shoulders all moving in time with the infectious latin rhythms.

I should point out here that the Gipsy Kings are French. They hail from Montpelier near the Spanish border in southern France, pretty much the best place on earth. I point it out simply because I did not expect that. They have such overtly spanish sounds and rhythms. They pioneered a hybrid of latin music they call the "rumba Gitano" which is a mix of South American rumba with the flamenco style guitar. A marriage that works out really well for people who like to dance. But it's a bunch of French dudes playing amazing songs in Spanish. Every song lyric seemed to be "Bailar" or "Amor" or "todos". I was clapping and wiggling, and loving the driving congo drums and the passionate guitar playing. I called it "musica de amor" music of love because flamenco is about passion, and latin and spanish cultures have passion in spades. It was infectious in the crowd too, because our group was surrounded on all sides by couples very interested in making out, and not so much in dancing, so we had to watch where we stepped.

Tonight was everything I love about summer.

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