Sunday, May 16, 2010

private dances

We found ourselves, along with about 60 others, in what seemed to be a dark clearing with a smokey haze hanging in the air. As our eyes adjusted, chairs became visible, clustered into groups of three, and low tables tables holding lanterns and tealights. To one side, a makeshift bar manned by a figure in a tuxedo filling a collection of glasses and jam jars. Across from the bar, a table piled high with shaved ice and oysters, floral linen napkins to accompany them. We ate three oysters and took a jar of gin, perched on one of the tables, we wondered when it would start, how would we know where to go, where to look, and then a stranger in a flannel shirt took my arm and asked us to follow her. She led us down a path marked with fairy lights and candles, past tents lit from within, and pulled back a curtain. We sat, just two of us, on chairs in this small space, while a beautiful girl with a big smile and false eyelashes performed a traditional Korean dance under a canopy of branches and twigs. She was done in only a few minutes, and we followed the sound of music and voices back to the clearing again, took another drink, and waited paitently for another flanneled guide.

I was led by myself to a van and asked to pick a number between one and four, three people danced in their seats beside me, staring straight ahead with blank faces, though they laughed at the end and thanked me for my solo applause. I was welcomed with a stranger into a large tent by two care bears, they danced and hugged and took off their clothes, the stranger and I laughed nervously and left quickly. I went alone into a small tent, I had to crawl to get in, and once comfortable I put on headphones and pressed play, and the screen in front of me lit up with a silly dance, in a park at night, ending with a soft serve ice cream.

Between each of these private shows, we were ushered back to the clearing, the sound from each tent and curtained space mingling with people's excited reviews. There's a gorilla, you have to see it. He dances with one of you while another watches in secret. A rocking horse, naked boobs, a red hood, and lots of short films. Hors d'oeurves were carried through the waiting crowd, spoons full of gnocchi in vanilla cream with truffle oil, quail eggs baked with green beans and 'african yoghurt cheese', while our jam jars were topped up with gin, fizz, and just a hint of passionfruit. On a cushion next to an older man a classical Indian dancer dabbed my forhead with red, her ankles weighed down with bells creating music with every movement. Bec and I were taken together to a red tent where a man with facial piercings and a naked torso bent and stretched, contorting himself until he was difficult to recognise as human. He sweated a lot.

Later, a little drunk, I sat with two women in the entry way of another large tent while behind the screen door a strobe flashed and a dancer shook against the walls, her movements swinging the light hanging from the ceiling and the smell of mint surrounding us.

Private Dances was a part of the Next Wave festival, it finished last night and all the shows were sold out. It was such an incredible experience, I would really strongly recommend keeping an eye out for anything else thought up by Natalie Cursio in the future. I'll also try to write more about Next Wave because there is so much happening that looks amazing, and a lot of it's free too.
Photo from Flickr


  1. wow, what an evocative description of a remarkable event. I'm so glad I got to read about it. xx

  2. i actually thought that this was a dream not a real event!!! so pretty!