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Archive for the ‘Dancing’ Category

Dancing and Singing and Stuff

19/09/2016

Memories for Mondays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

In the run-up to the Very Last Festa of the Season (to which barely anyone came because the evenings are now on the chilly side and everyone is a little festered out after all the summer shenanigans) there have been a few evenings of note.

There was the night procession from the village to one of the churches a way up the hill. Despite being dyed-in-the-wool atheists, Pooch and I are always up for a walk and so had every intention of joining the group and hoping that nobody would ask us to recite a Hail Mary or indulge in idle theological chit-chat.

However, once we discovered that this 2km walk would take nearly three hours one way, due to the pauses for prayer and a sing-song at every little shrine along the way; and that even when…

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Doing the Piazza Rock

31/08/2016

Weary Wanderings for Wednesdays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

The village festa season seems to be suffering from a few fits and starts this year, if reports of last year’s back to back parties in the piazza are to be believed.

A few weeks ago it kicked off with a night of somewhat eclectic musical tastes from the live band. Old style waltzes and paso dobles, so beloved of gentlefolk ‘d’un certain âge’ in villages the length and breadth of France, and apparently also Italy, joined forces with 80’s rock anthems and 60’s ballads, with the odd Latin American ditty thrown in for added piquancy.

Excessive amounts of beer and constant urging from my Argentine neighbour had me up on the dance floor for much of the night, but even my efforts could not compare with the star of the evening. He must have been ninety if…

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Twinkletoes Twirls Again

03/12/2011

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Quite the natural.

All us village lasses were simply thrilled when the kiddies’ ballet teacher started aerobics lessons up in the school gym.

A month down the line, and most of us are slightly less thrilled to have discovered just how truly uncoordinated we are. Freestyle bopping in the piazza when high on a euphoric cocktail of summer madness and a few glasses of vino, turns out to be not at all the same as being put through strict “Waka Waka” and “Candyman” paces in front of a horribly reflective mirror.

I suppose the fact that the teacher is a Russian ballet dancer should have been an indication that  star-jumps and sit-ups were unlikely to be the sole ingredients of our fitness regime, but I’m not sure any of us were truly prepared for the amount of rhythm she was going to ask us to force from recalcitrant limbs.

These feet were made for dancing…

Shoes not being allowed in the gym, the humiliation is completed by colourful socks with grippy bits on the bottom, or tweet ickle ballet shoes, much like the ones in the photos.

(My bunions are not keen on either of them, but have learnt to keep schtum and twirl on regardless.)

So for the princely sum of 30€ a month, twelve to fifteen girls and ladies sashay up the hill to school two evenings a week; hobbling sweatily back down again an hour later, egos in tatters.

…so that’s just what they’ll do. Sort of.

In Southern Spain I alternated between envy, admiration and a mixture of the two when observing how naturally people there moved to music, especially the female of the species. A culture of sevillanas, rumba or other dances learnt from childhood definitely breaks through the self-concious jerkiness that so many of us suffer from when confronted with the prospect of a dance floor.

And although it was a relief to get to France and discover that the French are no more gifted in that department than the Brits, it was also a little sad to realise that there was now zero chance a sense of rhythm was going to inadvertently rub off on me.

Italy differs from the previous two, in that although Italians do not have the natural dancing abilities of the Southern Spaniards, they do have a thriving culture of learning how to fake it.

Dance classes.

Pointylicious.

Nowhere is that more apparent than My Little Italian Village during the summer festas, when the instructed few strut confidently out into the middle of the piazza, and proceed to put the rest of us to shame.

And if the look of fierce concentration on their faces as they undulate round a bachata, spin off a salsa or unite the dance floor in a rousing Waka Waka, does not exactly convey an impression of enjoyment, they still look a heck of a lot better than me.

But as luck would have it, none of them has yet infiltrated our keep-fit sessions, so a surfeit of left feet wins the day.

At least I can still see my feet, which is a blessing I suppose.

This is Status Viatoris, whose cronky old knees are especially enjoying aerobics, in Italy.

Can The Emotionally Incapable Change Spots?

04/11/2011

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Some readers may have picked up on a brief aside made in one of my recent posts.

It was an aside that mentioned, in passing, a large species of feline (that doesn’t actually have spots, at least not after cub-hood, so the zoological analogy used to title this post should be put down to artistic license and left firmly at that). The big cat mentioned was one that goes variously by the names of puma, mountain lion and panther.

But it is also known by another moniker.

A cougar.

And why should that be of interest? Well, according to the urban dictionaries of our times, a cougar is a woman who becomes sexually involved with a younger man.

I know!

Shocking, isn’t it?!

Even more shocking, is the fact that at the grand old age of thirty four and a half, I seem to have inadvertently become one.

It all began sometime in August, at the height of the piazza parties; when all but the most sensible people were busy abandoning themselves to the excesses of liquid refreshment and a catchy disco beat.

And into this heady mixture danced a man with feet like silverfish on speed, and the excessively baggy trousers of a gangster rapper.

Those were both characteristics that should probably have set off the clanging bells of warning: This is no man, I tell you!

And those bells would have to be right. In fact, to paraphrase Dame Judi Dench in a certain Merchant Ivory production – this was a youth; nine years younger than myself…

Gasp.

It started as nothing more than an inebriated encounter of a slightly unwise kind; but by dint of kindness, laughter, affection and the boundless enthusiasm of a Tigger/Labrador puppy hybrid, I appear to have been unwittingly bounced into something closely resembling a relationship.

I haven’t yet decided whether or not I actually mind.

And as time alone will tell me what, if anything, I could possibly have in common with a 25 year old Eastern European welder with a penchant for thumpy music and tickling me till I scream, I think I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the ride.

(And boy, what a ride 😉 )

This is Status Viatoris, introducing TB (ToyBoy) to the cast of The Life and Times of SV, in Italy.

The SV Guide to a Good Night Out

19/07/2011

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Step One: Put on your best party frock – making very sure not to forget your dancing shoes – and carefully apply glittery make-up (optional for men).

Step Two: Make your way to the village bar, where good friends and oodles of beer await.

Step Three: Pile seven people of various sizes into a small Italian car, and laugh far more uproariously that the situation actually warrants as the driver makes four attempts to propel said vehicle up the steep ramp and out of the carpark.

Step Four: Pump up the music and sing unnecessarily loudly for the entire 2km journey to the local beer festival’s Brazilian evening.

Step Five: Fill your plate with rostelle (little kebabs), stinco (pork shin), chips, pasta, sausage, bruschette (various things on toast) and indeed anything else that you can think of  (it helps if they are also on the menu).

Step Six: Fill your glass with beer.

Step Seven: Repeat step six.

Step Eight: Ditto.

Step Nine: Ditto.

Step Ten: Ditto.

Step Eleven: You are now ready to hit the dance floor. Now, you know perfectly well that you are the undisputed queen of dance, so when the nice lady with the feather on her head and the nipple tassels shimmies up to entice you into joining her in a bit of samba, just do it!

Step Twelve: Repeat step six – dancing like a goddess is thirsty work.

Step Thirteen: Ditto.

Step Fourteen: Chat to lots of people. It really doesn’t matter if you know them or not; your wit is sparkling and your conversation scintillating. Your presence can only serve to enhance their beer festival/Brazilian evening experience.

Step Fifteen: Repeat step six.

Step Sixteen: It’s time to shake that booty again, and show all those rhythm-less people how it’s done. Wiggle those hips! Windmill those arms! Holy moly, you’ve sure got the moves…

Step Seventeen: Refuse the offer of a perfectly good car seat, and instead travel home in style. For the flat bed of a small red motocarro undoubtedly constitutes stylish transport. And comfort. And warmth. As well as providing a sense of adventure and a really good view of the stars – which look strangely more appealing this night than any other you can remember – luckily there are lots of people around to whom to impart this suddenly very important conviction.

Step Eighteen: Stagger up the squillion steps to your apartment, making sure to giggle loudly enough to wake the neighbours (their little brats make enough noise the rest of the time, so what the hell).


Step Nineteen:
You really haven’t consumed enough calories in the last eight hours, so cook up an enormous pot of pasta and consume rapidly and messily.

Step Twenty: Drink a large glass of water and collapse into bed – you are still blissfully unaware that the builder will be ringing on your door bell in a little under four hours, so make the most of such ignorance, and go to bloody sleep!

This is Status Viatoris, please note that the SV Guide has not been approved by any medical professional thus ensuring absolute enjoyment, unhindered by any boring and tedious “health” advice… 😉

The Emotionally Incapable Blunders On

20/04/2011

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

One of the hardest things I have found about blogging is trying to decide where to draw the line on divulgence. Rather than a question of whether or not I should actually be baring my soul to such an extent, I am usually more concerned about boring my audience with personal details that are neither informative, amusing, interesting or applicable.

The key word in that sentence being “usually”.

Which brings us to my current dilemma: The Annoyance Inconvenience Complication I Could Well Do Without Love Interest.

I confess to being slightly nervous about allowing developments of this nature to play out in front of a wider audience (wider than just my usual circle of giggly girlfriends, I mean), but when I think about all the possibilities such a tale may entail…

Cultural – step by step instructions in how not to deal with intercontinental flirtation.

Sociological – why some 30-something women should really just take up knitting and leave romance to those more equipped for it.

Comic – observe how amusingly quickly an independent woman can lose her dignity when tiptoeing into the dating pool.

… I know that I simply cannot withhold such gems from the public arena – it is both a duty and a privilege to sacrifice my reputation as a sane and rational human being at the altar of a greater public good.

So, back to the Love Interest himself (who in the interests of anonymity, we shall call L.I):

Having made a firm promise to myself not to spend so much time in the pub, I went to the pub. But less so. L.I continued to materialise unfailing at my side on each occasion, and thus our hours and hours of chatting in front of a village audience feigning disinterest continued. And the next time he offered to take me (the 100m) home on his motorbike, I said yes, and was treated to a thrilling swoop round the village, out into the countryside and back again.

– Ladies and Gents (but especially Ladies); let me tell you that there is nothing quite so swoon-inducing as a man who invites you onto his throbbing machine, and then exhorts you to wrap your arms tightly around him so he can accelerate and make you squeal.

But having deposited me safely back home, he whooshed off into the night once again, leaving me un-kissed and none the wiser as to his wishes or intentions…

…until a week or so later, when he suggested I invite him up for coffee so he could teach me some bachata steps, as promised.

– Ladies and Gents; let me tell you, there is nothing quite so charming as a man who can persuade a stone-cold-sober, utterly rhythm-less woman who loathes slow dancing, to whirl round and round and round her apartment with him for two hours until she can barely remember why she ever danced alone. A man rendered even more charming by his utterly un-selfconscious wearing of loaned fluffy white slippers bedecked with red horns.

The evening ended with a passionate bacio, so at last, I was made privy to his wishes and intentions.

Or was I?

Because despite spending two further evenings glued to my side in the pub and a myriad of lingering glances in between, L.I still hasn’t called me. Admittedly he has said that work will be frenetic until the end of Easter (he provides a lot of the greenery for the services and processions), but the age-old doubts and insecurities have wasted no time in creeping in:

Have I read “the signs” all wrong?

Is he only after one thing?

Am I just setting myself up to get hurt (again)?

And most of all:

Why oh why couldn’t he have just kept on walking, and left this girl to wallow in her contented spinsterhood? I was doing just fine without you, Love Interest, how dare you waltz in and turn me back into an insecure, nervous, giggly schoolgirl?

This is Status Viatoris, a pox on all men who turn our lives upside-down without so much as a by your leave, in Italy – in fact anywhere at all for that matter!

Dancing and Singing and Stuff

15/09/2010

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

In the run-up to the Very Last Festa of the Season (to which barely anyone came because the evenings are now on the chilly side and everyone is a little festered out after all the summer shenanigans) there have been a few evenings of note.

There was the night procession from the village to one of the churches a way up the hill. Despite being dyed-in-the-wool atheists, Pooch and I are always up for a walk and so had every intention of joining the group and hoping that nobody would ask us to recite a Hail Mary or indulge in idle theological chit-chat.

However, once we discovered that this 2km walk would take nearly three hours one way, due to the pauses for prayer and a sing-song at every little shrine along the way; and that even when we reached the top we would then have to sit outside for well over an hour whilst everyone else attended Mass, we decided to give it a miss.

(I promise I didn’t indulge in a single snigger from the warmth of my cosy apartment when the heavens opened and treated the area to the coldest and wettest night it’d had for quite some time)

Then came ‘Musiche della Terra’, the first concert of which was Sufi music from Iran, and which I didn’t make due to matters of a batular nature. The second, however, was a folk group from Hungary which I felt compelled to go and see given my tenuous links to that particular country.

Magyar musicians delighting their audience

The music was pleasant enough, but the evening was made by the fabulous stories of concerts past, recounted by the bearded leader of the group. He had the entire piazza in stitches with tales of gaining the attention of a distracted public in Marseilles and holding an impromptu jamming session in a Roman bus shelter amongst other such gems.

The following night was the turn of all the local choirs, the most endearing of which was obviously the children’s choir, who sang a selection of the local songs in dialect with their breathlessly youthful voices.

The local girls’ choir ‘E garsune’ making their parents proud

The local men’s choir ‘Compagnia Sacco’ giving it some baritone welly

And that brought us up to the Very Last Festa of the Season.

I had even invited friends to the village for what I thought was going to be the event of the year, and then had to rapidly get them squiffy so they wouldn’t notice that we were practically alone in the piazza.

Despite the impoverished turn-out, we still managed to have a wonderful time watching everybody tootling round the dance floor, and even had a twirl ourselves, as we got steadily more plastered on red wine and free vodka/green apple shots that the eager barmen were pressing on my girlfriends.

The song might have been anything from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or even 00s; in my village, all tastes are catered for

A Whirling Waltz

At the end of the night, the locals gathered to enjoy the wonderful harmonies that this village does so well. Everybody standing together to sing song after unaccompanied song, just as they’ve done for generations.

It is moments like these, moments when the hairs on the back of my arms stand up, that I realise just how lucky I am to have been able to spend so many years indulging my avid stalking of other cultures and customs. Coming from a country that boasts very few, I am drawn to them like a moth to a candle.

Eventually us girls staggered home, pished, happy and ready for bed.

Unfortunately the barmen also staggered home behind us clutching more bottles, and proceeded to keep us up chatting, boozing and singing until nearly 5 o’clock in the morning.

I can’t say we minded terribly much.

This is Status Viatoris, who will miss the party season, especially the part where she tries to teach people the correct moves to YMCA, in Italy.

Doing the Piazza Rock

30/07/2010

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

The village festa season seems to be suffering from a few fits and starts this year, if reports of last year’s back to back parties in the piazza are to be believed.

A few weeks ago it kicked off with a night of somewhat eclectic musical tastes from the live band. Old style waltzes and paso dobles, so beloved of gentlefolk ‘d’un certain âge’ in villages the length and breadth of France, and apparently also Italy, joined forces with 80’s rock anthems and 60’s ballads, with the odd Latin American ditty thrown in for added piquancy.

Excessive amounts of beer and constant urging from my Argentine neighbour had me up on the dance floor for much of the night, but even my efforts could not compare with the star of the evening. He must have been ninety if he was a day, and the excitement of whirling lady after lady around the square saw him finally divesting himself of his shirt, but strangely not his dignity.

The very next night we were treated to a local rock band who played lots of loud Italian music that I didn’t know, and a few AC/DC hits that I did. Nothing very conducive to dancing, but the lead singer and bass guitarist both provided enough eye candy to offset any regrets in that department.

And then nothing…

Until last night, when the Confraternita di Santa Marta, after a sober religious procession up and down the main street, invited the village back to the square of the same name to get happily squiffy on red wine whilst listening to an excellent group, comprised solely of villagers.

The mad conductor’s wife was on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, with her daughter, the shopkeeper and the shopkeeper’s cousin on backing vocals, amongst other brave and tuneful souls.

The singing continued long after the band had packed up, when a group of worse for wear locals both young and old gave a wonderful rendition in dialect of all the old songs.

The joyful harmony of their voices rose into the early hours, when the miserable old woman whose apartment backs onto the square, chucked a bucket of water over them from her balcony and told us to piss off home before she called the carabinieri.

This is Status Viatoris, kicking off her dancing shoes until the next time, in Italy.


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