"You are an insane dancer!"
How did he react?
He laughed and said, "No, no, I am just warming up!"
How did I feel?
This is another busking story. Funnily enough it happened the same day that I read my friend Mark's piece on busking. In his stunning text he says,
(...) there are the people who actually engage. They’re in the minority, but boy do we appreciate them. Children stare wide-eyed, couples dance, singles sit and watch quietly for 20 minutes and then walk away. There are the sincere thank-yous and the silent drops of 10, 20 and even 50 dollar bills into our tip box.
Reading this reminded me of all the encounters that this minority had sparked for me in the past. They are the reason I busk. I have had Jimmy tip me bread every night for weeks, Samson draw me and Andre share his lunch with me. Those pavement miracles don't just make me fall in love with the city I am in. They restore my belief in humanity. I know the kids and their shy waving, the couples and their moved hand holding to my music. But Mark had mentioned one thing that had never happened to me: Someone dancing to my music. I figured it was probably harder to dance to a solo violin baroque tune then to Mark's beats. Yet I wondered what it might feel like.
An hour later I was playing Bach at a Neukölln street corner, my violin case in front of me. A passer by surprised me with his chocolate donation and a homeless' "Good luck for tonight! Crossing fingers you'll get a lot of tips!" made me smile. There it was, the beloved minority. The biggest stunner of the night was Tim. It all started with him staying for a while. Between two movements I looked up and said, "Thanks for listening! I really appreciate it." Tim tipped me and answered, "You are welcome! But to be honest I am just waiting for a friend... It's funny though. Somehow I always end up talking to street musicians. They fascinate me. There is something about them-... Anyways. Can I sit with you for a minute?" "Sure!", I said. I asked him for his name. "Tim", he answered, "I am a dancer. Maybe I could dance..." My voice pitched three octaves higher as I said, "Oh my god, please do! Please! That would be amazing!" I laughed and added, "No pressure though." TIm moved his head from left to right. He said, "The thing is I don't know the friend I am meeting very well. He might be weirded out by my dancing on the street." He grinned, "In that case you'll have to buy me dinner instead." "Well, I have got some chocolate we can share..." We smiled at each other. I started playing. Two minutes into the movement Tim got up. His movements were small at first. Waves starting in the tips of his fingers, rolling through his shoulders and neck. Bar by bar they grew bigger until his whole body was flowing. His legs made his jeans look like leggings when they spread into a standing split. His chucks played along as he rolled over his toes. He turned into like a water lily, a leopard, a fragile girl, and a storm all a the same time. Every cell of his conjured along. I was torn between trying my best to accompany him well and being thunderstruck because he was so crazily good! As soon as I let the fascination overwhelm me and stared at him I lost the score and made mistakes. Eventually I stuck with the music. That took my pleasure to a whole new level: Though I did not see him I felt his presence and expression around me like I have not felt anyone's ever before. I could tell when he was completely immersing in the music. Those moments pulled me out of my body. I was everywhere, sensing his moves alongside of the rhythm. I became the paste, the shapes and the harmonies. Together they created new waves, structures and colors in me. I was sober but this was a full on trip. After I had finished the last chord i cried, "You are an insane dancer!" He laughed, said "that's just me warming up!", then waved at someone standing nearby. His friend had arrived. The man looked just as impressed as I felt. There was no doubt the two of them were still on for dinner. Before Tim and I said goodbye he suggested we should do a performance together one day. My answer came instantly, "I am jonesing for it."