Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Eighties Weren't So Long Ago




Questions: Do crowds in Prague love '80s music?

Answer: Yes, they do.


It was Eighties Night on Friday at Lucerna, a theater, pub, disco, and restaurant all rolled into a very large old complex built not recently. Following my usual grimace when told the nights plans include any kind of dancing, I went with a group of six new acquaintences and two friends. Let me tell you something: '80s night in Tucson, Arizona never looked like this.

First, the crowd was young, incredibly hot, and fashionable. Second, everyone was dancing, terribly, with the exception of those few people at clubs who actually go there to dance. They always look like someone dropped them in from some other, faster, more stylish club. But no bother. Third, they were playing the music videos from all the songs, of which there were many, on a large projector right behind the stage. Huge speakers rocked the tables and floor. With five different bar counters placed in a horseshoe shape, drinks were easily procured, and often provided by good-looking dreadlocked bartenders. It was as '80s as I could expect in 2006.

One element of the evening that surprised me was this: it was obvious that these club-goers had memorized a lot of these songs. Screaming unintelligable (for them) lyrics from INXS videos, the crowd surged with '80s cheer. This decade of Western music, bad hairdos and eye-watering fluorescents has made it big in Prague, and probably many other places in Europe.

However, the most surprising part was that not only did I have fun, but I could be glimpsed dancing, often with a disinterested but pretty Welsh girl. The dancing was in terrible form, awkward, powerless over my strange gyrations and flailing arms. I have never felt comfortable dancing. I am not really concerned what others think, I think, because rarely do they dance much better (I am content just watching the really good dancers). No, my bad dancing comes from several factors, none of which are intended to offend or segregate:

a) I am a man. Men do not move their hips at all when they dance, and when they do, it is more like a small rodent have managed to find a way into their pants.
b) I am a Jew. Complex, modern, and progressive dance does not really enter into our tradition strengths. Being white also may have something to do with this. I am from no lineage that I can detect that would allow me to feel the rhythm of my ancestors' traditions.
c) I am conscious that I am a bad dancer. This is the big one. Yuck, picturing yourself dancing is not appetizing. This is why people only dance at bars, where they can drink, and hopefully forget.

What I am good at is writing English lessons. I should practice that now. The question posed earlier was: Do Czech people like the '80s? I would modify the original answer to say: definitely, with all the strength in their limbs.

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