It was a rainy evening in Saigon, last night. I was tired from teaching these non-designing designers how to design, and still getting over a cold. All I wanted to do was sleep. But my girl had invited me out to dance at the "studio" she attends weekly to practice her hip hop moves. Sounds like great exercise, I thought. So after my nap, and the thunder storms calmed down I took a cab to the dance hall.
The cab started to slow down, and pulled into the drive way of this large shopping complex, and in the middle was a dance hall full of Vietnamese doing the tango. Behind the building were open fields for soccer, but at this time of night, the Karate kids were out practicing, actually they were probably doing Vietnamese Martial Arts called "Vo Vi Nam." On the second floor up the stair case, was ball room dancing, and down the hall from that right above the tango session was the room designated for hip hoppers. I assumed I was going to a dance lesson, or at list a freestyle session of some sort, but in a real dance studio with mirrors. I would watch my friend's moves, and practice in the mirror just like I did at Dance 411 in ATL. It was a long day of teaching, so I was looking forward to the work out. I was assuming the role of the student, not teacher, performer, or Black spokesperson. . .
Poppers, Breakers, and Hip Hoppers
Upon entering the room I was stunned by the blaring of the Gap Band, or maybe it was Cameo, no, it was Roger and Zapp, by the dance instructor, while a perfectly aligned row of Vietnamese youth practice their "popping" moves. It was a sea of robots coming to life by remote control, actually a bit scary. Wow, they have to practice popping? Cold calculated moves from left to right, rigid short staccato jerks of the neck and limbs. Quite the scene.
Moving further into the dance hall, (which by the way was more like an old high school auditorium, not a real dance studio) were the breakers. They were off to the left side of the space, twisting and turning on these blue mats that they brought from who knows where. Keep in mind none of this is a formal paid lesson. These kids just want to have fun.
Lastly were the hip hoppers practicing their choreographed moves. My friend introduced me to one of the young girls who comes to the dance session regularly.
"So what kind of dance do you do?"
My friend, "She knows Beyonce's dance."
Ummm, correction, I do not know Beyonce's dance moves. I learned them once while taking my Go Go Stiletto dance class, but without her music playing, or the "single ladies" video in front of me, I could not tell you anything. I don't dance on que. I am not a robot.
"Sorry without the music I can't teach you much."
"Can you show me some of your moves?"
*Sigh* Look kid, this isn't beat street, and/or "Save the Last Dance", I didn't come here to teach you anything, I came to exercise.
"How long have you been dancing?"
At this point I'm highly annoyed that I'm not in a formal dance studio, but mostly that I'm being pushed into this "teach your culture" session. So here's your Black history lesson of the day. Most Black folks don't have to study dance moves, or practice calculated steps, we just listen to music and feel it. Besides, I couldn't dance in the studio space if I wanted to, because all 3 groups had their own music blaring soo loud on cheap speakers, it was a cacophony of mess. As far as how long? I've been dancing to the beat of life. Music is always played in my household. I can't remember a time when we didn't listen to music, dance at parties, or sit around the TV with popcorn waiting for the "world premiere" of the new Micheal Jackson video to begin.
Though I appreciate the pure curiosity of the Vietnamese youth, I will admit I am a person who gets a bit offended when I'm put in the spotlight to "perform". "It's all positive, all coming from positive vibes," my friend assures. Yes, yes I know, but for one day can I not be reminded of how foreign I am?
Anyways, check out the little rascals practice their moves, notice, nobody is dancing with the beat. . .