[Dialogues from the dancefloor]
‘What is this? Zumba?’ The forró dancer asks me with an expression of indignation on his face.
I laugh heartily. This dance partner complains about all the fastest songs. He likes the slow songs. The heartfelt ones.
“Sofrência” is the appropriate word in Portuguese for this feeling, the literal translation would be “suffering” but the word doesn’t even exist grammatically in the Portuguese language, but it exist in the Brazilian, Old Country soul. Comes from the old, dry, drought-driven, centre of the “Sertão Brasileiro”; images of barefoot dancing on unpaved red earth comes to mind, during a sunset, hot, with dust rising as the couples sweat happily.
It comes from dancing your woes away, such as the hunger, the thirst, the hopelessness…
I am taken out of my reverie by a voice asking me:
‘You’re dying to dance, aren’t you?’
It’s another dancer, one who actually likes the fast songs, the faster the better, I think.
‘How do you know?’
‘You’re dancing on your own.’
I hadn’t noticed, I laugh at myself, I guess I do that, move without noticing. I think I do that in the most inappropriate places; on the ferry, on buses, trains, stations, while walking, roller blading, waiting on queues, or on the street.
I don’t really care much, I’m usually in a dreamland, inside a story, seeing dragons, priestesses, winged men, or worse, much worse. But at this moment I’m slightly, just a little bit, embarrassed.
Was I so eager to dance that it was visible across the dancefloor? Ah well… I’m always eager to dance. My cells have designs of their own, dancing is in my programming. I’m happy for the chance to share my steps now, rather than ridiculously swaying on my own.
A few days after, when I’m ready to put pen to tablet, I get to register the piece I most want to write about. It’s one about the dancer who doesn’t do the slow ones, “xote” as the slow forró songs are called. Music with “Sofrência”… a word he was the one who generously offered it to me.
He says he only has two more hearts to spare.
At my “question mark” face he explains:
‘I have lost my heart enough in this lifetime. I don’t have many of those left to give away. Two at most! Xotes, they are heartbreaking, I have to be careful, I give my everything. Truly. I give it all. So I have a policy. No Xotes. Only fast songs. Keep the hearts safe.’
He is one of mine, this one. I get it. I do. Except. I must have hundreds of hearts. I give mine away. ALL the time.
There you are, there is dancing chemistry and connection, and you have this blissful dance, you glide in unison, the music is inspiring, the scent of the partner is alluring, cheek to cheek and the movements are in absolute synchrony.
I tell him:
‘I know! You have this perfect dance, you give everything, then you walk away without your heart, open chest surgery, bleeding, the threads of your veins intertwined with the other person’s, you feel your veins being pulled out of you as the other person walks away. The veins unravelling from your chest, going with them.’
He agrees and he completes my thinking, his voice pitching high in affront:
‘YES! And they walk away as if nothing happened!’ His voice is a falsetto by then.
“You are there, life transformed.” I think to myself and continue:
‘Sometimes you are left without a few other organs too, a liver here, a kidney, lungs, often. And last but not least, some intimate organs are on the line.’ I tell my friend who does not do slow songs. I understand him so well.
‘Yes, very much so! I can’t do that, not anymore, I only have two more hearts to give away in this life.’ He repeats himself. ‘I need to keep them for the right time. So I only do the fast songs now!’
I love the dialogue, the ideal, the sentiment. I meditate on it. I may have several hearts to give away to but each is unforgettable. Each time it happens, it is special and it kills me a bit on the inside.The person does take a piece of me with them forever, without ever realising.
And I am left bereft, pretending I’m still whole, bleeding on the dance floor. I wonder what happens to them… I always wonder.
Are only the writers, the musicians, the artists, the poets the ones who bleed? Do I take pieces of people with me too, sometimes?
But inside these holes, I’m left with these intense moments, these experiences, these spotlights of magnificence that no-one can ever take away from me. If they didn’t feel it and took my bleeding heart, without ever knowing or realising, they are the poorer it. I’m the richer.
And that is life, right? Living and dying a bit every day? New cels, new thoughts, new patterns, new experiences, new opportunities? The old dies, the new is born.
Within, I carry Zouks, Bachatas, Salsas, Salsarrós, Bachatangos, Forrós, Lambadas, Kizombas, Ruedas, Cha-chas, even a couple of beginner Gafieiras and Tangos, that will never fade.
I forget partners’ names, sometimes even faces, but the dances, the sensations, those are indelible.
If one day, in my old age, I ever have one of those horrible diseases that eat remembrances; it is said that the long term memory becomes sharper. May I have these dances to the end. I hope one of them cause me a hot heart attack and let me die the happiest of old gals!
This same post in Portuguese/Esse texto em português: Forró para Todo Mundo
Read a short story about Forró Dancing: Elemental Forró