Monday, October 04, 2004

WordSnap: a fiesta

You're only looking for the Indian restaurant mentioned in the Lonely Planet, because your tongue is already craving for familiar food, and you wind up on the banks of Darling Harbor. In the background, Sydney's buildings leap for the sky, and since night is falling, the building are all lit up in various ways. Dominating the view is the Sydney Tower, tipped with a blue and yellow jewel of light, but you cannot help noticing that a construction crane also stands out, but somehow fitting comfortably into the scene. Right in front of you is a floating stage mostly occupied by instruments and speakers, and there's a crowd right in front of the stage. Huge thumping speakers are standing sentinel to the stage...and the crowd claps lackadaisically at every attempt of humor that the MC is assaying. It's a Latin American dance fiesta, and a slew of shows is planned to showcase just that. You idly look at the brazilian carnival dancers, who look like a group of birds of paradise transplanted into a new world. You even glance at the couples trying their first steps of the lambada, aided (sometimes) by the now hoarse MC, but what really makes you stand out and stare are the dancers from the latin dance schools of Sydney. They know that this is one of the few chances they get to show off and they each have prepared a showcase dance. First the instructor couple and then the students. You absolutely have to hold you breath when you see a hideously mutated form of salsa where the students come dressed as army folk, complete with toy machine guns and marching. They dance, quite seriously and incongruously to the music, and when they finally leave the impromptu stage a voice says "salseros, salud" over the music and the dancers give a snappy salute to the crowd, at which point a loud laugh is heard from the audience, and you're relieved that you're not the only one who found it faintly ridiculous. Salsa down under reminds you of WWF wrestling, where the real function of the show is appearance: where form wins over content. You stand and watch the rest of the show, but there's sudden rain, and the ground is getting wet and slippery, and it's deemed too dangerous to go on. The dancers test the safety of the floor by sliding across a couple of times, and so the DJ takes over, mercifully with latin music that have spanish lyrics and not some arbitrarily latinized english stuff. The rain doesn't cease, and you decide that maybe it's time to move on, but you can hear echoes of the music all around the bridge as you make your way back to the city.