Saturday, 10 PM and I’m ready for bed. Only I’m at my friend’s house and we’re heading out to an all-night Brazilian dance party in honor of Carnaval.
Raphaele is my only bona fide French female friend. I mean, the only one I’ve made entirely on my own without there being any other connection – not a friend of a friend, not a colleague. Just two strangers who discovered an interesting enough spark to want to keep the conversation going.
I met her in a dance class and she invited me over for tea right afterward. My jaw practically dropped open when she did; it was the first time in four years a French woman who I didn’t know spontaneously extended an immediate invitation.
Though I had pulled a muscle in my neck in the dance class and could barely move my head, the novelty of her offer made me accept. I held my head at an awkward angle for the next hour as we pursued interesting introductory chit-chat.
Thankfully, we’ve moved beyond the introductions (and my neck has healed). She’s a breath of fresh air. The same formal social rules she dispensed with to invite me over that first time have made her that much more fun to get to know. We’re planning a “wig night” in Paris – I have a blue bob, she has a white one – simply because we know it will cause a stir. She’s into cultural arts programming (or mediation culturelle, which neither of us have successfully been able to translate). She’ll be working at the Grand Palais’ huge annual contemporary art event, Monumenta in a couple months.
The only thing is, she’s still in her 20s, as are most of her friends. While 5 years isn’t that significant, something about the difference between twentysomething and thirtysomething sometimes feels big. Like the difference between putting on uncomfortable shoes and not enough clothes to go to a club instead of staying at home in my pajamas.
But I’ve been hiding out most of the winter; I know I need to go forth into the world and stretch my legs every once in awhile.
And stretch the legs I did. I know nothing of the samba or other Brazilian dances, but I faked my way through a majority of the evening. I guess this old fogey can still shake it when she needs to. (Also, I did not reinjure my neck. Score!)
The Cabaret Sauvage is a cool space on the outskirts of Paris’ nineteenth along the Canal de l’Ourcq in the Parc de la Villette. (Ah, I miss living in the nineteenth). It’s like a huge circus tent, only it’s a solid structure with great acoustics. Something about the circular dance floor makes it very appealing.
At 1:30 AM, the crucial question arrived as it always does: go home with the last metro or stay until they start running again at 5:30? Or cough up for a cab?
We stayed. I shook. Sometimes I’m almost 27 again.
Clip of a batacuda from Saturday. Sorry it’s so short. I had to get back to dancing:
Parc de la Villette
Metro: 7 to Porte de la Villette or 5 to Porte de Pantin
May 11-June 23
Featured artist: Anish Kapoor
What did y’all get up to this weekend?