Monday, April 6, 2009

Sweating at Shelter

A coupla weeks ago, for St. Patty's day, my colleague Monica and her pal Pete threw an Irish whiskey-ladened meatfest at their pad on Jiangsu Rd.  It's a very cool, renovated pad in a super Chinese neighborhood--not a foreigner but us green-whiskey-drinking revelers in sight. Monica is a bright light in my grueling teaching day....we have lunch a coupla times a week and get to debrief about life in Shanghai. Pete's a cool fella who had recently broken his hand in a barfight, when some trashed Chinese dude started hassling Monica.  They're genuine peeps, that good kind of American that is Usian--they're not egomaniacs to presume that the name of 2 continents should be the name of their one country.  They also, as many ex-pats like my buddy Nic do, find U.S. life boring.

I figured we'd just be grilling and drinking...but like any good Shanghai gathering, 'round 11:30pm, we were going out.  To The Shelter.  For DJ Zinc, a drum and bass turntablest.  It was great fun to be in this former bomb shelter, walls painted black, much more low key than the other clubs I've been to, because folks actually come here for the music, not just to be seen.

Something about a sweaty room of people, jumping up and down and constantly accelerating towards a climaxing beat that opens your pores and glee.  That night, I was in the mood for the organism that is the dance floor.  We were in a group of about 7--4 of us Usians, a coupla French and a Brit--and we danced together in a circle, with folks moving in and out of our 'molecule,' if you will.  It was crowded, but there was still room to move.

If my colleagues were not so young and spirited, I'd never choose to do this.  But I'm glad once I'm there....although I forget, no matter how hardcore folks are about going to see music, there is still some meat marketing going on.  I'm working up my aesthetic cardio, to the beat, and then a dude will be sauntering up and, oh yeah, we're all dancing together.  But I'm not out to hook up or even make new friends in a club--I'm happy with the folks I'm with--and so dudes saunter off in about 5 minutes, my constant back, although wiggling, a somewhat clue.

At one point, I'm dancing with one of the French dudes in our group and I witness the electron phenomenon.  A very lively Chinese girl with a bob and black leggings, steps in front of me and is now dancing with Frenchie, who is tall, handsome, and smells nice.  She is kinetic like an electron, loving l'attention and worked up into a frenzy to the point where she starts screaming like a wild woman, in what she believes those wild western men would love from such a free and sexy-moving Chinese girl.  At another point, another Chinese girl with a more angular bob, a bit more mellow, but interested in Frenchie as well, approaches with the let's-converse-in-English-on-the-dance-floor gig.  She's polite, kind of looking at that first 'electron' girl askance, and wondering what my relation is as well. I've not only forgotten about the meat market of such scenario, but also the Chinese layer of free flow access and possible connection to foreigners, for conversation, for experience, for attraction.  It's really quite endearing how fastidious the dancing of the Chinese girls is, how purposeful their activity, and yes, what their idea of freedom and fun is.

When me and Frenchie were getting our jackets from the coat check, we waited in line and talked about squash vs. tennis (the different wrist functions).  I look to my right and two Chinese girls are agog at Frenchie, you can feel the laser attention beaming his way.  Frenchie tells me he's into karate, that he's got a class in 8 hours, that he loves it.  Some version of a suburban Arab dude in front of us asks what part of the U.S I'm from.  How do you know I'm from the U.S., I ask.  He implies that I've been shouting in his ear.  We're at a club I remind, but also add that shit, those Americans are loud wherever they go.  I ask where in the U.S he's from, he says he's not from the U.S. and so I ask which part he has lived in.  Aha, San Francisco, of course.  They look down on us Los Angelinos, yes.  My jacket appears, see ya later San Francisco.

The chilly night air is welcomed after a 3-hour sweatfest.  Thanks DJ Zinc.  I spend the night at Monica and Pete's, and am happy to have toasted and sweated on St. Pat's.

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