*Janie orders her usual drink at a bar on E 7th Street. She sits on her favorite stool and faces the dance floor. She then begins to have a conversation with herself.*
“I used to hate all of you, all of you who dance.
I used to prefer living with the rats, racing about on their wheels. Round and round we’d go, running away from everything, escaping very little. I suppose, we were trying to get away from past, present and future – from the damage we’ve done, are doing and will do. We were in search of something only the dead can know – nirvana. I’d imagine we thought we were making progress, but the past was the present and future too; we never really moved. Hence, I also imagine that whatever we thought we were running from could’ve easily caught us if it were in the mood to chase. But we didn’t see it that way, we couldn’t. Those wheels, those cycles of avoidance were the sum of our experience and we were running blind.”
“People like me need to be bothered into action, pushed to move. I’m starting to see now that we’re kind of slaves, objects at best. But the ones I’m watching now, these dancers, these free spirits, they’re subjects – conscious doers. Blood runs warm in their veins.
It’s amazing what a little rhythm and conviction can do. The 808s blare and serotonin gallops through their nodes pounding their pain away. It’s so visceral; every one of their moments is spiced with an inner spontaneity.
But why do they close their eyes when their heads are turned in my direction? Why would they avoid my gaze? Is it my layers of make up or the angst hidden underneath?
How dare they ignore me as if to say, “Your drawn-on beauty and artificial existence are not welcomed in our circle!” I want to return their scorn, I want to stop looking at them but I can’t; I’m bewitched.”
*sip and sigh*
“I can’t help but feel as though people like me were raised in such a rush; all we’ve ever known is this cold, prosaic cage. But they move as though they don’t see any bars, as if they’ve known freedom from the cradle.
They dance with that special kind of fire, the kind that burns true in all great people.
My God, they’re graceful!”
“What’s this strange feeling I’m having? Am I inspired?
I’m beginning to understand that it’s true what they say. Those who hesitate are lost. I’ve died a thousand times, and they prance about as if they’ll live forever. I’m seated, stagnated by fear. It’s shameful. I’m not alone, though. The others beside me on the outside of the floor look on in awe and envy as well; I’m glad I’m not the only coward. The greatest pretenders sport their best “I’m too cool to dance” face, but they’re liars, too self-righteous to shed their skin and leave their bodies behind because that’s what passion is, that’s what dancing is. It’s to transcend one’s blood, one’s lust, one’s base desires.
It’s resistance or release. That’s what it all boils down to now that I think about it.
In the resistance there’s no rhythm, no freedom, no expression. It’s moving without a pulse – walking dead. Then there’s release, that natural flow, a sweet, violent bleeding out. I’ve felt it only slightly before and I feared that it would sweep me away far from my shore – my place of spiritless reprieve. I mean, to resist is just so easy. I’ve built a fortress of comfort all around me. Oh how they break it down, these damn dancers!
All that I see tonight is a buffet, a feast of motion. But there’s a lump of guilt lodged in my throat that this expensive vodka can’t burn away and it poisons my appetite. This Manhattan cocktail used to work so well, it was my only medicine. But tonight I can’t escape these thoughts, I don’t even want to anymore. Who can I blame but these dancers?”
*sigh and sip*
“They dance for no other purpose than freedom itself. They’re advocates of humanity’s highest calling, autonomy, and they’re weaving a tapestry on which is written “I WILL BE FREE.”
I’ve never had such romantic thoughts.
When will I come to understand and claim that kind of surrender? God, I need to know!”
“This feeling is foreign. It’s beginning to permeate my entire body. It’s as if I’m bleeding on the insides. I feel it turning into a connection and strange desire to be one with the dancers. It’s as if they’re a vessel approaching the shores of my lonely island offering a means of deliverance.
They’ve curbed their focus, you know what, yeah, that’s it: they’ve simplified things.”
She’s startled out of her reverie by the bar tender, Chadwick. Some think he’s very handsome. “I think he’s saving up for school,” says Janie to herself. Usually he barely acknowledges her. But now he was looking at her. Maybe he was tired of ignoring her or perhaps he saw a change in her features.
“You’ve been seated for too long, miss, get up and go dance,” he says.
“You know what, Chadwick, I think I’ll go ahead and do that.” she replied.
“Call me Chad…” he replied.