Friday, May 21, 2010

A Dance Party at Party City: the Senzala Gang

I love the Atlantic Center mall. It is always an adventure, a reminder of what can happen, what is possible, in an urban environment. Pulling into the parking lot recently, I saw two policemen and a policewoman pushing a police car. Surprise must have registerd on my face 'cause the policeman closest to me smiled and responded to my unasked question.

"Budget cuts," he said, laughing. "We ran out of gas..."

I wasn't quick enough to whip out my gold stars. When I parked on the lower level I tried to run up and find them, to take their picture, to capture the hilarious moment, but it had passed.

I moved along to Party City, my intended destination, and loaded up on decorations for a concert I was helping out with. In line, a long line, The Gap Band's 1982 hit You Dropped A Bomb On Me played loudly around and, all of a sudden, I was surrounded by swaying, dancing bodies.

I started laughing as the group, one of them holding a package of balloons, swirled a bit more and stopped when the song ended.

"That's awesome," I said, "you guys are great!"

Yes, they were. Turns out there was a reason: they were professionals, a group of Brazilian Capoeira teachers from Senzala. It was their graduation event that evening.

I love dancing in the aisles, I do it as much as humanly possible. I wish more people would do it. It's fun, it feels great. If you let yourself go with the music, just move, it's energizing, enlivening. It can help you get through the impatient moments while you wait for the angry woman ahead of you to stop yelling at the hapless store clerk. Clearly, this group knew that. They couldn't help themselves.

"We like good rhythms," Fernando explained with a shrug. And, lucky for me, they're not afraid to show it, and to show others how to enjoy good rhythm too. They are bringing their beautiful culture to our city, awarding those that take the time and energy to learn.

And that's why I gave Fernando and the rest of the Party City Dance Team--Sylvia, Bruno, Thiago and Mestri Toni--gold stars!

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