Breezes waft off the river, carrying light laughter and irrepressible joy, smoothing out the discordant, cramped group with upbeat saxophone and trumpet strains. Emerging from my hibernation, I am stunned by how the world continues to spin so brightly, as if I’ve never left. Real-life pin-up women in colorful, flared dresses, curled up-dos with a flower on the side, and bright red lipstick grace the dance floor, stepping stepping spinning. It’s a dizzying sight, and I, too, get caught up in the exuberant joy of it all when I step step spin. I miss a step or two, but it doesn’t matter that my feet are retracing ghostly steps from six years past. The sedentary, stiff shell cracks, and fluidity gushes out. There’s freedom in being led, twirling in response and tacitly adapting to each other’s movements. The song jazzily comes to a close, and I step out, breathless and smiling.
People-watching is just as fun; the dark blues of the fading sunset and the city’s sparkling pinpricks of light cast an attractive glow on the dancing dyads. A newly-arrived couple starts to dance, and I am riveted. He is an awkward-looking white boy, and she a petite, childish-looking Asian - and they are utterly transformed by their incredible flow of energy. Their feet move expertly with barely contained glee, kicking and crossing and stepping smoothly. She flings waves of energy towards me with every beat, and I am dazed by her perfect control and utter elation. Despite the scores of couples around us, I can’t take my eyes off of them. They close their dance with a beaming embrace, and I am struck by the potency of the experience that they had just shared.
Even after he has moved on to dance with someone else and she stands with another friend, people-watching and chatting, my eyes dart back to her. I can feel her generous vivacity bubbling just under her skin, ready to dazzle the world. For a fleeting moment, I have a mad desire to beg her friendship - to be able to soak in the presence of such incredible energy on a regular basis. I pull apart the strands - better to leave with this unforgettably pure impression of her than to poke holes in her radiance with the eyes of reality.