Friday, October 1, 2010

Never Stop Dancing

In 2010, a suicide bomber attacked a nightclub on the Tel Aviv boardwalk.  I pass by the skeleton of this now dilapidated nightclub every time I bike along the beach.  It looks grim.  The cement walls have gaping holes, bent metal is protruding out of the sides of the building, and trash lines the parking lot.  No matter how captivated I am by the beauty and vitality of the beach, I can’t help but feel a little hopeless about Israeli politics when I go by.  But, in front of the building, there is a memorial to those killed during the bombing that prompts a very different set of emotions.  It reads, “Never Stop Dancing.”  I love this statement.  Abstractly, it is uplifting, but it means so much more within the context of Israeli society.  Israel never stops dancing, despite the eeriness of what we see on the news.  Israelis seem to be constantly moving to a bold and dynamic rhythm.  Tonight, I took part in that movement.

Every Friday night, there is a drum circle and public dance party overlooking the sea, behind the bombed nightclub.  It starts right before the sun sets.  Percussionists of all sorts roll in gradually.  As the sun begins to set, they start up improvised tunes. Within minutes, dozens of percussionists are playing with intense force.  People dance within and around the circle.  They move freely, sometimes dancing by themselves, paying little attention to the others, and sometimes dancing very communicatively in pairs and large groups.  The event takes place on a hill above the beach where it is so windy that you can relax your body and the gusts will send your limbs flailing as if you were voluntarily moving to the rhythm. 

My friends and I joined in it all.  This girl with incredible moves gave me some East African dance lessons.  Later, we joined a group of backpackers who were dancing in a circle and yelling out these wild, scat-like calls.  At one point, a dog wandered into the middle of our circle.  We all started dancing with the dog, and he began chasing his tail, as if to show off his moves too.  As the night became darker, and it was harder to see people’s faces, the dance moves became increasingly free and uninhibited.  When we danced our way out two and a half hours into the event, there were still no signs that it was letting up any time soon.