Recently, I joined a few younger friends for a night out at a disco. I used to be quite the party animal in my youth, and after a long time off the circuits, I was eager to see whether and/or how partying has changed over the years.
Well, there's no better way to put it- it was a diabolically horrifying experience. We went to a club in Nairobi which specializes in "New School" music, and I couldn't help but marvel at how unbelievably low standards have sunk. They kept playing music by a certain lass called Rihanna -apparently the kid rules the airwaves in the way Sade did when we were young- and her voice reminded me of the brays of a very agitated donkey when its gonads are firmly in the grip of a burdizzo.
And the dancing? Well, I saw none. All I could see all around were pairs and pairs of hormonal teenagers locked in throes of simulated copulation.
Anyway, it seemed the DJ apparently shared some of my apathy for the music he was playing, because at various intervals, he would intersperse the garbage he was scratching out of his contraption with some truly wonderful gems of our time, throwing the army of brats in attendance into paroxysms of missteps which I really enjoyed watching.
Then at some point, my kindred spirit at the turntables threw in a Lingala track by some Congolese maestro which had for a while been the hottest sound in town during my partying years. This particular track has a complicated dancing style which I used to be quite adept at, and I decided that I was going to show these party neophytes what true dancing is.
Ever encountered the expression "a really, really bad idea?"
There is a line in the Desiderata which goes "Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth." Pulling acrobatic dance moves is the archetypal manifestation of youth, and since in my days I'd pulled them with the best, I was under the misguided impression that my spirit and my body were in tandem on the matter.
Only it didn't quite go that way.
How did it go? Well, think of a camel. An awkward, two-humped one, preferably. Now, imagine that camel on top of a winding, hundred-step staircase.
Next, picture a very malicious fellow, wearing a smirk on his face resembling one of those expressions common with 1980s cartoon villains. Imagine this up-to-no-good character approaching our poor camel from behind and, with all the grace and fury of a drunk paraplegic, sweeping all its four ungainly feet from underneath it.
Are we still together? Good. Now assuming it takes an awkward, ungainly, two-humped camel fifty seconds to clatter down a winding hundred-step staircase, picture the same camel at the bottom of the stairs exactly fifty-one seconds later.
Basically, that's how it went when I pulled my move, and lying there on the dance floor counseled me that some moves belong to younger bodies, which mine no longer is. I figured it was time to listen to the Desiderata and take this counsel seriously and surrender those moves along with other things of youth.
But looking like a camel that has just fallen down a staircase meant the surrender was anything but graceful.