Rule #44 - Avoid acting your age
Baltimore is one funky town. It’s smaller than New York or Los Angeles, but has the same neighborhood character. And characters…
Whatever you are looking for, you can find it in B-more.
Back in April, the city experienced a lot of trouble, thanks to a well-publicized arrest. Buildings burned and the riotous actions of a few knuckleheads brought back memories of the 1960’s. It was the stuff that the 24-hour news channels – of both persuasions – just chomp on and regurgitate it every 15 minutes, stuffing it down the throats of viewers who can’t turn away – the train wreck phenomenon.
Citizens kept claim on the city through the variety of street festivals in the different neighborhoods. One of the biggest ones each year is Artscape. For a long weekend, the area around the Baltimore College of Art and a number of downtown performance venues come alive with art of all kinds – visual, physical, musical, culinary, and dance. This is a festival always set for the middle of July, which is always the hottest time of the year.
Of course, I had to be in the middle of it. Please do not tell me you’re surprised.
Seriously, a good chorus friend told me about an opportunity to dance in the streets. The group, Dance Baltimore, teaches normal people with lead feet how to dance, with the idea of doing flash mob dancing around the area. They have done a variety of flash mobs in the past at Artscape and other areas. This year the tune chosen was “Uptown Funk”. The choreography took 100% of the body in movement.
I’m the type of person who has problems walking and chewing gum. You want me to think, anticipate, AND move my feet, butt, head, arms and shoulders all at the same time? I used to be able to do this. Nothing like dusting off major skills out of my cranial RAM!
There were several of us who made it down to the African American History Museum in Baltimore for a rehearsal/lesson on one 90-degree-plus Sunday. It was so humid we worked up a sweat walking across the street from the parking garage. Inside, we joined Baltimoreans of all ages, races, and sizes – and skill levels – to get funky and learn the steps. It took one hour for us to learn all the step combinations. We signed up to receive the review video by e-mail. Then we were on our own to practice.
For the next few weeks, we practiced on our own. I don’t have much room in my office to move easily for dancing. There was no way I could practice in front of a mirror either, which was probably a blessing in disguise. If I saw how I looked while dancing, I might have chickened out and not shown up for the mob dances.
So, at my age, what have I got to lose? Become the butt of cocktail party jokes? Look ridiculous? Been there, done that. And besides, who really cares? I am determined to do things and have fun. That’s why you live long… and prosper. So, I signed up. Those running the program got to know my face. And I made a commitment to dance at least three times through the weekend.
Artscape weekend came around with its usual heat and humidity. After all, it is mid-July in Baltimore. That weekend the sun was blazing all three days. Our flash mobs were scheduled for mid-to-late afternoon. The location was partially in the shade, but there was no breeze on that city street.
On day one, I drove myself into the city and used a parking garage. I ended up close to the dance site and in charge of when I left. If I had used the Light Rail, I may have been standing at the station for a good half hour. Oh no…not in the heat…and especially after dancing up a good sweat. I located the area where the dancers were to meet and found myself in the general area of all the ruckus from April. Not to sweat about that, Self.
Wow… there’s a Philadelphia-based Italian water ice stand… I know where I’m hanging out between dances!
The music started right on time. It was easy to get caught up in the fun. Now, I don’t know if you could day that I did a good job or not. I don’t care if I did. But I did get out there and shake what Mom gave me twice on Saturday and again twice on Sunday afternoon. There were only two of us with any grey hair showing (maybe more friends of Lady Clairol?) but we both made it through dancing in the heat. And we all had a blast.
Next year, I’ll try to see more of Artscape. With any luck, the weather won’t be much of a deterrent to my experiencing the concerts. This year I missed George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic. I’m going to try not to miss out on the headliner next year. From the classic cars, to the street painting, to the roller skating demos, to…everything, I’m going to participate more in 2016.
The group is also doing flash mob dancing on Halloween to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. I want to head downtown and learn that dance too, so Halloween will again be a fun day. It hasn’t been all that fun for about three years now.
Another goal set. I’ll meet this one too. Just love the street festivals in the city, don’t you? The next one I’m taking in is the Greek Festival in November. I’m getting hungry just thinking of it.