Tag Archives: dancing

Dancing in the City

26 Aug

One day when walking around Ximending shopping area in Taipei, Carrie and I stopped to watch a dance competition. Can you tell the age of the dancers?

After teaching my four and five year old students many dance moves throughout the year, I’m not exactly surprised at the quality of these highly choreographed dances. If you go to a club in Taipei, both guys and girls love dancing, but it’s interesting to watch their impromptu dance moves. For the most part, they don’t get very creative, except when reciting a move or sequence previously practiced. This has its benefits. For example, on an extremely crowded dance floor, a foot inside an open-toed sandal isn’t as vulnerable to being impaled by a high heal or squashed by a boot. You can count on 97% of  Taiwanese dancers to bob up and down in a controlled manner, and the 3% who like to go all out, stay on the fringe for more space and an audience of bystanders. Me? Let’s just say I don’t fit into either of those categories; I’m all over the dance floor and sometimes on stage.  If I’ve surprised anyone by admitting that, you must not know me very well. I’ll take this opportunity to thank my mother for dancing with me in the rain. I know Erika was always worried the neighbors would see us from their second story windows, but I secretly never cared.

Revolver Night of Fun

22 Sep

Neither Carrie nor I could find an outfit we were really proud of for our debut into what we hoped would be a sweet niche of fun people. “This is the best I can do,” I announced as I entered Carrie’s room.

With a dramatic snap of her suspenders, Carrie said, “This is the best I can do.” After trying on a couple of my shirts and finding them too short or clashing with purple dyed jeans, I guess she had resigned to wearing a plain gray tank top. She’s still kicking herself for having the less is more mentality when packing in June. We shrugged and put on our helmets.

We rode down Heping Street, arriving at the bar Revolver sometime after midnight. I had a flippant curiosity. Wednesdays, when girls get two free drinks, was the only night we’d been here before. Those visits were pretty tame, but we also weren’t really in the mindset to meet a bunch of new people. This time we were. There was a $300 cover ($10 USD) which included one drink. We took them upstairs and saw that it was no longer just an empty room. There was a DJ playing drum and bass music while half of the crowd stood around casually while the other half danced. The room was small and comfortably crowded. We started dancing right away, having been deprived and all. Carrie was especially thrilled that it wasn’t Lady Gaga remix for once, which is the kind of music we have to succumb to at the clubs. After about 10 minutes, my coworker spotted me and came over. We couldn’t really talk because of the volume of the music, but it was nice to see a familiar face. I am glad to get to know him outside of work too. He introduced me to his girlfriend, and I could tell they are a fun, dancing, energetic couple.

When standing in line for the bathroom, we began talking to a guy and his visiting friends from Orange County. “Carrie’s roommate is from there,” I pointed out. I thought this connection was just grand. I shamelessly asked for his number. Desperation plus beer means less pride. I’m really not sure if I’d call him because I don’t know what I’d even say except, “Remember those girls that you talked to about nothing important while we waited to use the restroom at Revolver?” Ehhh…

We eventually went downstairs to get another beer. This ended up being my last beer of the night, and we were there until 5:15 am! I stayed in the bar area for 45 minutes or so talking to Julio. I really wanted Julio’s number, but I forgot to get it. He is from Guatemala and said he would help me learn Spanish. I lamented how I had nothing to teach him. We talked about how safe it is here and how honest everyone is compared to Guatemala City or the U.S. I laughed about how I had brought so many things with me designed to keep my belongings safe from thieves. “Like what?” he asked.

“A lock for my backpack, one of those slim little bags that hold your money and passport under your clothes, a specially designed backpack that is hard to unzip, stuff like that.” He’s been here for a while, and knows even more than I do that unless I put my backpack in the middle of the street with a sign that says, “Free” (in Chinese), no one is going to touch it for weeks, unless to inspect it for a name so it can be returned.

While Carrie and I were talking to Julio, this guy tapped my arm. “Is your name Emily?” he asked. “I think we met in Austin.”

“Really! Where?”

“In that rooftop bar during South by Southwest.”

“Ohhhhh! Gene! I remember you.” I talked to him about Taiwan. In Austin, he had told me he’s from Taipei, and he recommended I live there out of all the other cities in Taiwan. “Look, I really made it!” I said, pointing out the obvious.

“Yeah, I see, good job.” He works for National Instruments in Texas and was on a business trip here in Taiwan. He introduced his two friends, Victor and Viktur (pronounced the same), and said that they live here, so I can be friends with them. Sweet!

While I was still talking to Gene, Carrie’s friend Gretchen saw her and came up to us. We hung out with her a month ago after Carrie got her contact info from an Austin friend. We thought she and her boyfriend were really fun, but we hadn’t seen her again since the one time. We ended up on the third floor talking with her, the other people we know, and some new people.

Then I saw this guy I had been dancing next to earlier in the night. He used to live in College Station, so I called Carrie over, “He used to live in College Station!” They went through the details of it, and he admitted that he’d been looking for a group like the one Carrie says she was friends with. By the way, if you’ve ever had a chance to go to a Barefoot Art Guild party that she and her friends threw, you know Carrie means when she refers to “The Neighborhood” She helped build a whole community of active young people trying to give College Station more culture and diversity., and those art guild parties were a great display of what they were all about. “It was our goal to reach out to people like you, sorry it didn’t happen in your case,” Carrie said. Carrie talked to him for a good while, and in the following days ended up giving this guy’s name to another friend of hers who needed a service he could provide, T-shirt making. Both of them were really thankful to Carrie for helping them meet since they were exactly who the other one was looking for.

The DJs changed a few times, and I liked them all. I couldn’t stop dancing, and it was wonderful! I was doing the kind of dancing where your body is making up new moves on its own accord, and you’re attention is focused on how great you feel instead of what you should do next with your limbs. At one point I came up beside two guys who were hunched over and pumping their fists downward to the beat of the music with their other arms around each other’s shoulders. One of the guys swung his pumping arm around me, and I joined them in their fun dance. Gretchen and her boyfriend had curled up together on the third-floor couch and fallen asleep. After writing a little note about how cute they looked and how, don’t worry, we captured it all in pictures, we tromped upstairs to leave it on them. The workers turned us away though; they were closing.

We stood outside talking to my coworker for a bit, and then we rode our bikes home while the sun began to lighten the sky. We passed some serious bikers on their way to the outskirts of the city for a morning ride. I rang my bike bell as we came up behind them. Not sure why, just sorta wanted them to notice how different but similar we all were, them with their spandex suits and us with our dancing grins.

Success.

18 Sep

It was amazing! Best night in Taipei. We just got home about 20 minutes ago; it’s now 6 am. I’ll have to explain the awesomeness later, but the short version is that we danced all night with friends we didn’t exactly know we had. Sure, you might think that doesn’t sound like real friends, but take a leap of faith.

Internet Access and Dancing for Money

26 Jun

It is Sunday afternoon here. I keep hearing loud noises from the sky; there might be another typhoon on the way. There was one the night before last, but I was so deeply asleep that I didn’t hear any of it. Carrie told me the rain was so bad she thought the streets would be flooded somewhat the next day, but they were not.

We have WiFi in our apartment now! Yippee! I am sitting in my white IKEA chair with my laptop supported by Dave. Dave is a red, adjustable table. He was very cheap because he’s small and a bit on the wimpy side, but I love him. The assembly directions have pictures of how to use him. Carrie said, “Woah, look at Dave; he’s all up in that lady’s lap”. This is how Dave is.

I’ll take photos soon so you can see our apartment. I might wait until the weather is nicer so you can see the awesome view we have from our living room. We can see much of Taipei, including the famous 101 building, because we are on the 6th floor and there are no buildings like ours obstructing our view due to our area not being as developed as the inner city. Our apartment is still very close to the really fun part of the city. In only a 2 minute walk we are in the MRT station on the brown line, and if we go three stops north, we are at the blue line which runs east and west across Taipei and also takes you to the other MRT lines. In other words, we are about 10 minutes from the blue line.

I only go two stops north to get off near my school where I sub now and will work permanently starting September 1st. After exiting the MRT station, I walk for 10-15 minutes to my school. Eventually, I will learn how to take the bus which is cheaper (50 cents instead of 80 cents on MRT) and a straight shot though it will make frequent stops and have to fight the traffic. I will also have the option of biking once I get one. Carrie is frustrated with the bike situation. People encouraged her to not bring her bike from home, “They are all made there, so they’ll be cheap!” But they are not cheap, and there are very few options. She has not yet been able to resign herself to buying a brand she doesn’t like. She’s only seen one or two brands she even recognizes, and she knows of tons. It is ironic that the parts are made here, shipped to America to be assembled, and then if you want one of those bikes when you are here, you have to get it shipped back here. Carrie thinks it is very nonsensical. I think that we don’t understand it enough, but that if we did, we might see why in a business and supply/demand sense it is logical. Don’t be surprised, though, if you read a post at some point about Carrie opening up her own bike shop because there is definitely a deficiency in bike options here.

We went out with our friend Tabitha last night. We met her and her two Taiwanese friends, David and Joe, at the Nanjing MRT station near the club (about 4 stops away from our house). You have to have some kind of picture ID to get into clubs (for bars you don’t need anything), so we brought our driver’s licenses. This club charged $400 dollars to get in, but that includes all you can drink of about 10 mixed drinks, two beers, and four shot choices.  So we paid about $13 USD to dance, drink, and mingle from 11pm to 3am. It wasn’t closing when we left; I think someone said it closes at 4 or 5 am!

They played a lot of rap mixes from the U.S. and they also had a lot of Chinese mixes that included some American pop music. It was decent enough especially since Carrie and I were dance deprived. When we first got there, the dance floor was completely empty because they had just started letting people in, but within an hour, it was PACKED. The dancing was mild, not wild and crazy. You didn’t have to worry too much about a high heel stabbing your foot (though almost every girl has on stilettos), and the guys don’t bombard you in their effort to dance with you. Just like when we see people on the street, they stare in an obvious but not too obvious way, but at the club with a few drinks in them the guys will smile really big and sometimes say “Hello!” and only “hello” as their way to start a conversation. Some of them speak English fluently and will actually begin a conversation, but many, English speakers or not, will just smile big if you look at them. They all look REALLY young. We were at a place that Tabitha says is a hangout for college students, but even when I discovered someone was my age, I was surprised because they look much younger. They acted shocked that I was 27, though, so the feeling was mutual. I’m not sure why so many people were asking my age and giving their age, but it definitely came up quite a bit. We met a really cool girl that is friends with Tabitha too. We didn’t meet any Taiwanese girls because, well, there weren’t many at that place, and they were always surrounded by the plethora of guys. When the dancing got started, Tabitha pointed toward the dance floor and said, “Only in Taiwan will the guys be the ones to get the dancing going,” and sure enough there was a huge group of guys on the dance floor.  Tabitha said many Taiwanese guys are really good break dancers, but we didn’t get to witness any of that.

We ended up meeting about 8 people who were directly or indirectly friends with Tabitha. They were all very nice. Some were foreigners and some were Taiwanese. Carrie was talking with a guy from New Zealand and mentioned that she has a good friend who’s been living there for 2 years. He recognized the name and mentioned that his brother is dating someone with the same name. They realized it’s the same person. She is one of Carrie’s really close friends from college.

The most interesting part of the night was the stage dancing/contest thing. Our friends seemed to know the drill. They were like, “Watch, watch, those girls are going to take off their clothes to try to win money”. You could tell they thought it was as outrageous as we did, but they’d seen it happen here before. The girls never did take off all their clothes, thankfully, but it was very strange because the announcer would turn on the music and have them dance, stop the music and talk about each girl (I’m not sure what he was saying because it was in Chinese), and then have the audience clap for her. Whoever got the least claps got eliminated, and then the process started over, dwindling the contestants down to the ultimate winner. The girls were wearing corsets and some were just in their fancy, black bras. They had on shorts or skirts. And when they danced, they acted pretty shy about it, and didn’t necessarily do that great of a job. Then when he would talk about them and ask everyone to clap, they would put their hand over their face in embarrassment, you know, like when someone is giggling and covering their mouth, but they would sometimes cover more of their face as if to hide. It was strange that they were in that competition and kind of naked, but yet shy or maybe trying to act humbly? Is humbly a word?

Then, the club also had some hired people to dance on stage in a more choreographed way. They were in bra-like tops as well and very skinny. But, skinny is pretty common here. One girl had on HUGE black angle wings that had large spikes coming off the top. Her face was painted with glitter. Then about an hour later a guy without a shirt on came out and danced. It was hilarious because he was wearing this huge lighted vest thing that looked like a character in a comic book… it probably was, but I couldn’t tell you which one. Anyway, they said he is a male stripper, but maybe the translation is getting mixed up somehow because he never took off his huge flashing vest or his pants. THANK GOODNESS, how awkward. Anyway, it was quite a show.

When we went home in a taxi (the MRT closes at midnight), Carrie told the taxi driver our address in Chinese and he understood her perfectly!!!  Progress is sweet.

I bet the title made you think Carrie and I danced for money. He he. The caption of one of my photos on here says I took that shot as I jumped in the water from the ferry. Pretty much a lie. Those are the only two lies so far, and one is just deceiving in order to get you to read this post and get our mothers and boyfriends worrying a bit in case they need their daily dose of that.