Beyond

So I’m wondering why we congregate. In our own little groups. Reluctant to mix, cross over, experiment.

Last night I was out with girls, dancing shoes on. We ate a delicious tapas dinner in a trendy little Spanish spot in Wardour Street. Just opposite the new Stringfellows. In the heart of London’s West End.

People were pouring past the huge window, turning in and out of every street, every dark alley way. Into clubs and bars and theatres and restaurants and shops and hidden nooks and crannies. Models, tourists, Goths, Americans. People of every colour, creed, country. A seething mass in a tiny centre of the world.

And as we watched, we five talked about men, the food, travel, South Africa, JZ, London, our scattered friends, The Torture Garden. We laughed and rolled our eyes at the waiter, who we couldn’t understand. We passed the food around. Ordered more of that delicious salt and pepper squid. Eyed the cocktail menu. Drank Spanish beer. And discussed where we might go dancing.

In the end, wandering through the crowded streets, through china town, under the pulsing neon of Piccadilly Circus, we reached a consensus.

We’d go to the Walkabout.

That bastion of antipodean debauchery. That cess pit of snakebites and curly fries. That wet floored, heaving, weaving, shouting, groping place of vegemite advertising, all black haka wannabes and sweat drenched Springbok rugby shirts.

And we danced. To Clegg’s ‘Impi’. Men at Work’s ‘Man Down Under’. Crowed House’s ‘Weather with You’. Toto’s ‘Africa’. And, true to form, men from the southern ends of the world slurred up to us, confessing drunken desire. Reeking of smoke and beer and the promise of fumbled kisses and more in the back seat of a cab home.

And I stood there. The pounding noise and light washing over me. And in a quite moment, thought: why am I here? Why do we do this? Find familiar groups to melt into. When a whole universe of possibility waits just outside the door.

Think about the times you were uncomfortable. When you had to step out and try. That time you found the guts to have that drink in Khayelitsha. When you went to that braai in the northern suburbs. When that Arab family gave you a lift home from the hospital in Israel. When you drank Guinness with a Northern Irish man, who confessed a past in the IRA. When you went to that local club in Prague. When you had to leave your agenda at the door. Listen, adapt. Stretch so far beyond yourself, you changed without noticing.

I used to do this with ease. At uni. Throw parties in cliquey Cape Town and fling my somewhat splintered self together. Invite the guys from the Obz Tatoo place. The girls from Camps Bay. That weirdo I’d met in town. My old school friends. The hippies from Noordhoek. And I’d leave ’em to it.

And marvel at how quickly similarities were found. Watch the chicks ask the tattooist to check their secret artwork. Sit talking Kant with a boy in chinos from Constantia and that oke from town. Love the surprise on peoples’ faces when they realised they’d been wrong.

But somewhere along the line, I’ve curled into myself. Become a little safer.

And while I love the beats and rhythms and sameness of my mirrored familiar self, I hope I haven’t completely lost the knack. To stretch and mix and experiment. The ability to move beyond what I know and into all that something new can be.

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6 thoughts on “Beyond

  1. micatyro says:

    Hey D.

    You had a great evening, why kick yourself in the head about it. The decision was made within a group to go to a specific venue, and it was good.

    What makes you think that one evening in London suddenly tars you with the brush of safe choices and lack of originality… a moment of weakness perhaps? There was an element of, dare I say ‘danger’, in meeting two strange blokes that you’d only ever chatted to anonymously online, by yourself, in a pub, in London.

    You know what it’s like there, a veritable cauldron of humanity, and if you don’t know a frankly large and potentially lethal city too well stick with the crowds and pick your adventures carefully.

    Dolce, have a brill last week, enjoy every moment, meet people and get out there and have fun… and above all, bring me back a bar of Galaxy chocolate.

  2. wizard says:

    So much media hipe about ‘the world of the young’, if you are over 30 you might as well be slapping on the anti-wrinkle cream and going to bed (alone) at 9.30 after an evening of soapies.

    And you believe it.. it works its insidious way into your brain and stifles you adventurous thoughts. All 30 somethings are mums dragging their kids round the supermarkets looking for family meals.

  3. dolce says:

    Easy on the age pokes hey! Ag, I’m comfortable with my life changing as I grow older….but I don’t want to lose the ability to be challenged and to challenge myself.

    Y’know?

  4. dolce says:

    I know, I know….I had an awesome evening…

    I just have these tiny moments when I think….arrrgghh….I should be pushing harder, sucking the marrow out, you know?

  5. sundayschild says:

    I found myself wondering the same thing last year in a dingy basement club in camden town dancing to soukous with a bunch of angolans and congolese exiles. I could have bought a MUCH cheaper plane ticket – or frankly just stayed home. But i had a lot of fun. Sometimes i think a foothold in the familiar is what opens you up to the new.
    PS…. I hope you didn’t go home with an antipodean abroad – that’s taking the almost familiar too far.

  6. dolce says:

    no, Sundays….naaaasty!

    And nice thought a foothold in the familiar is what opens you up to the new…..being comfortable and confident in your roots is what gives you a place to travel from….

    *Hhmmm….*

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