Melbourne Street Dancing
Coming out of a Chinese restaurant in downtown Melbourne, Australia (that’s “Mell-bin” to those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure),
my wife, Meryl, and I noticed a crowd which had formed in front of a “performance art installation.” It was a converted shipping container parked on the street with an open front. Inside were the five Australian “Bearded Bakers,” singing and dancing away to an eclectic blend of DJ world music. They were selling Knafeh, baked onsite, described as “Jerusalem Street Food.”
To keep things lively between their musical selections, they invited the audience to participate by asking if anyone could identify where a particular customer was from. Melbourne is a mixture of many cultures, and a pop-up installation attracts a blend of people from all over the world.
One customer was waiting for his Knafeh,
a sweet cheese delicacy, known all over the Middle East. The DJ asked the audience, “Who can guess where this guy’s from?” After many incorrect guesses, I shouted out, “Iraq”, and I was the winner!
They motioned for me to come down to the “stage” (more or less the sidewalk on the busy downtown street), and told me that for knowing the right answer, I had won a knafeh. Great……
“But there’s a hitch to it,” the main Bearded Baker said. “You have to tell us a little about yourself and you have to bring your wife down to dance to the song of our choosing.”
That’s not what I wanted to hear. I’m a retired doctor, 70 years old, and not exactly the most comfortable dancer in the world. Meryl, on the other hand, loves to dance. When they announced that the song they were going to play for us was “Love is in the Air” by John Paul Young from 1978, I somehow didn’t have that stomach-dropping feeling of dread! I figured, heck, who’s going to know me all the way down here?
My wife and I danced for a good three minutes and she said that I had a wide, happy grin on my face the whole time.
The crowd of over a hundred of our Australian best friends cheered us on! Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, Meryl had handed her cellphone to the person sitting next to her so that we would have a recording for posterity. It didn’t go quite viral on the internet, but among our friends and relatives, they all had a good laugh.
It used to take some coaxing from my wife and maybe a drink or two to get me onto the dance floor. I guess those demons of awkward self-consciousness persisted from junior high school. But now, after my successful international dancing debut, I am able to throw caution to the wind, and say, “Why not!”