On friday i started laying out my copy of the flandrin painting i am doing. it was very scary to start it because that means… well that means i have started it and there is no turning back. this is the first painting i have done that is not abstract, which is a whole different feeling. now i have to stay faithful to an image. i am very happy with how the drawing turned out, although i am going to redo the feet. i am terrible at feet.
I also spent a few hours in the louvre on friday::: the louvre has become my sanctuary. if i am frustrated with speaking french or if i feel lonely, i have been going there. it is home.
I drew one of michaelangelos slaves. it was a really good exercise because the sculpture is so distinct. i actually got the feet done perfectly, but i didnt leave room for the head.
on friday evening, ma mère française had her petite fille over for night. her name is chloé and she is 2 and a half. she is really smart, and she knows french better than i do. we sang petite papa noel together::: before she met me, she hated me because i took her grandmas time but now she loves me. here we are::: ‘rebecca et chloé!’
that evening i went to a party in montmartre… i left at 10pm and i didnt get to the party until about 1130 pm. they had given me the wrong address and also the wrong code for the door. i knocked on alot of wrong apartment doors because people would just let me into their building. it was frustrating and i only got to stay at the party for 45 mins.
Kelly, one of the program directors, commented that canadians are more elegant than americans.
On saturday i went walking in the marais district with a friend – one of the most beautiful quartiers in paris. we walked along the seine and got falafel (it is also the jewish district); and we went to a café called café imprévu. it is my favorite café in paris so far… hopefully i can find it again.
this was alot of fun, and it was the first time i have gone salsa dancing since being here. we danced from midnight to five am. wow! the men here are wild and i had to hit a guy to make him stop trying to touch me. i walked away from many people in the middle (or beginning) of the dance because i could tell they didnt really want to dance. i ended up asking before dancing with someone… ‘ tu veux danser, ou tu veux des autres choses?’ they would actually not dance with me if they realized that i was only there to dance. it was really funny. i got about 3 really good dances in the evening, which isnt bad for a first time. but more importantly i toughened myself to rejecting men and i gave myself a reputation among the salsariens of that area that i will not give them what they want. this is very good. it was also really good to be with other girls because we could rescue each other from comprimising situations. i dont think i will ever go salsa dancing alone in this city.
Okay! Continuation of post.
On Sunday when I got up, Mme. CB told me that she was worried about me the night before! Can you believe it? It felt so good to have someone worrying about me and willing to call around at 5am to see where I was. Now, I will send her a text message if I am going to be later than 2am, which probably wont be often because I was completely wiped out all of Sunday.
That is… until the bal de tango! Ha ha.
I went to my first tango ball on Sunday evening at a really classy café near the canal. It is called Canal Opus Café and it has a beautiful, huge wooden dance floor that is to die for. There is a piano in the corner and a balcony above so people can sit and watch the dancing. There are couches on one side of the floor (red!) and a very long bar that is very empty most of the time (a very good sign – people are there to dance).
It was supposed to be “beginner’s time” from 5-8pm, so I arrived at 6pm. Alas, there was no one there except beginner women and a bunch of advanced men! What were we to do but dance?
I learned the following things:
-it is much easier to dance tango with your eyes closed
-if you touch your ankles between each step, you can’t go wrong
-it is much harder than it looks and I have a very long way to go
-it is a bad idea to try to dance tango and speak French at the same time
Most of the people there were over 30, but there were a good handful of people over 29 … in other words, I was the youngest person there by far. The men I danced with were very classy, very good dancers, and very sensitive. They were truly considerate, and several sincerely welcomed me to the world of tango. It was wonderful.
The beauty of tango is that each movement of each step needs to be made in complete symmetry with your partner. The woman is the ‘keeper of the music’ – the man tends to hurry, thinking of the next thing, but it is within the woman’s power to suspend a step in the air for as long as she needs to. In my opinion, the most stunning tango dancing is extremely slow because there is time to hold feet in the air, there is time for the movements to be perfectly symmetrical, there is time for energy from the earth to run through the bodies of the dancers. There is time for the passion of the dance – for the woman to lean and to run her foot along the ground and along the dancer’s pivot leg. Ebb and flow.
By default, on Sunday night I also learned the waltz and the milonga – it is the same idea, apparently, as tango, and I was able to get through. I guess that means I learned them.
I met a very passionate woman from Dublin there who has a theory that tango is life (I think I have heard the same theory in relation to salsa – ha) and I also met a Canadian man from Victoria who is a street musician in Victoria in summer and in Paris in winter. He plays the accordian. He is probably about 55, and an incredible, very slow dancer. He was the only one, I think, who sincerely had fun dancing with me.
The more I dance, the more I think dance is the best way to relate to people. People who dance form strong, healthy communities, and that is best thing for society.
love to you all!