The Wandering Scientist

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Exit, Stage West

Written: April 3, 2011

About: Tucson

I have lived in Tucson for about seven and a half years. That’s the second longest I’ve lived anywhere, and now I’m having the strange realization that Tucson is a place on the road, and no longer home. Well, perhaps it is a bit more than a place on the road. After all, having spent so much time here, I know how Tucson lives. I’ve seen it change. I have stores and stores of memories from here – from heartbreaking to euphoric to simply strange. Still, even though I can never be a tourist here, I’m not quite a local either.

The end of my stay here is not without its poetic moments. Since my new job is not covering my moving expenses, I’ve had to get rid of almost everything I own since I can’t afford to move it. All of my furniture, a lot of my clothes, much of my kitchenware, my computes. The only things which I have pretty much refused to give up are books and music. I have boxes full of volumes and CDs. An attachment that is sure to cost me in the near future.

My dance shoes have finally been worn through. These shoes have survived for about six years – an incredible feat for the kind of abuse that these shoes have taken. And my final weeks in Tucson is when they have finally started showing holes. Another chapter, another chapter, right?

The train of things leaving my hands has been enlightening. It’s been nice to realize that even though I haven’t had all that much, I actually need even less. Whether it’s something I’ve given away, or threw away, or sold, I’ve felt lighter and more empowered with each bit. It is a good feeling, knowing that I will rocket into a new life minimally encumbered. I want to carry memories and experiences, not items.

There is a beautiful and serene view of the Tucson sunrise from the A Mountain, just around the corner from the smoked-through, piss- and beer-stained Buffet. The cool Tucson night, bearing within it the improv and dancing madness – hours and hours of idealists imbibing and sweating their passions. So many stars in this night, an endless field of golden flickers so vast and deep. Cross the Gates Pass and get lost in this infinity, spend a good hour conversing with the distant worlds. Or if you want someone closer, there is Broadway Café and the Grill, always open and always up for a good conversation. What’s better than a milkshake and some hashbrowns to grease your mind and tongue, anyway. I’m walking down a street, bottle of Jack in my hand (my girlfriend), grinning, feeling punk, bounding up the stairs and into the house for an improv jam that will blow everything into the stratosphere. How much liquor have I poured into myself in these years? Enough to keep this burn alive. There’s blues on, and it’s blues like I’ve never heard before. There’s blues on. Someone is so very close, moving with me in comfort and perfection. The tiniest of movements like the loudest of words. My hands are covered in dark oil and tiny specks of aluminum and steel, a sharp and reassuring smell of the cutting fluid. The sun is out, wrapping everything in its fiery embrace. And then there is the sunset under a gradient sky, with the burning red mountains as the backdrop. And all the while, the saguaro whistle their quiet songs in the wind.

I’ve gone through so much here, and I miss you already, Tucson.

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On a Greyhound bus, part 1

Written: March 23, 2011

About: early March, Greyhound buses

I was faced with two facts. The first is that I had to get to New Orleans. I’m not going to presently discuss exactly why, but the need was absolute. After all, I had given my word. The second fact is that after a few months of being basically unemployed, and since years of grad school failed to leave with me a lavish fortune, I was rather broke. At this point I had accepted debt, but even that was beginning to run thin. So airfare was completely out.

The cozy cabins in the sky that take you into the heart of Mardi Gras jacked up their prices like the wicked mercenaries of old. I essentially had the following options: driving, taking a train, or taking a Greyhound bus. They all seemed approximately equally costly.

I’ve just covered the space between Arizona and Florida by car twice. Another two days of driving through the Texas void would drive me mad, so that was out.

Of the remaining options, Greyhound was cheaper than the train by a third. I decided I’d rather blow that third on whiskey in New Orleans, so the die was cast. I took tickets on Greyhound and quickly repressed all thoughts about the 35 hours aboard the bus. I packed some sandwiches and a bottle of water, and had my roommate drop me off at the Tucson station at 6am. Oh adventure, you are not easy.

The first I would say is this – being on the bus for that long was not nearly as terrible as I had imagined. The seats are actually more comfortable and spacious than those on most airlines. Contrary to popular belief, the buses don’t smell all that terrible, although we’ll get back to that shortly. Also, after a few hours I started losing track of time. Daylight and night’s darkness mixed together with an endless barrage of miles, empty desert miles, tiny towns, gas stations, and highway mile markers into a strange brew that simply made me forget how long I’ve been here. I still recoil at the thought of being on a bus for 35 hours, but at the time, the experience was alright.

The bus is packed with people. Sometimes it’s not packed all the way, but that is still far more people in the immediate proximity, and for far longer than is ordinary. The outcome is that everyone’s lives are inflicted on you. At least a day of someone’s life – however unusual a day – unfolds right in front of you. Besides, there is so little to do that eventually you run out of desire to fiddle with your phone or read something. Everyone ends up in conversations, or at the very least unintentionally listening in on someone else’s conversation.

I met at least three people in serious trouble with the law. One was just released from prison and was going back to see his family. He obsessively talked about two things – seeing his little daughter and being incarcerated. The two others were on their way to an important court hearing. Missing that hearing meant jail time. All three took every chance to talk about their trouble with the law, and all with a good measure of personal sainthood.

There was also a guy who grew up in a Mississippi trailer, then served in Iraq. While overseas, his wife started doing drugs and beating their kid. When he came back, he promptly divorced her, took the kid, moved to el Paso and re-married. He was one of those tall, skinny Southern guys made of muscles, cowboy boots, and grins. The Marlboro man is a hopelessly sterilized version of these guys. All that heavy stuff he had gone through, and here he was, smiling, chatting up neighbors, and sharing snacks with a kid across the aisle. Some people just hold up the world.

A crazy guy boarded the bus at one of the small stations. He spent the long ride through the Texas night tearing up a deck of cards and showering the bus with this confetti. No one questioned him.

About the smells – all the buses I’ve been on have been fairly fresh. Air conditioning was, if anything, excessive. Only once was I assaulted by a wave of urine stench, but someone promptly countered with an air freshener. I guess that is a mark of an experienced Greyhound traveler – carrying Fabreze.

The other four times the strange airs assailed me, it was because someone lit up some weed in the bathroom. The smell is unmistakable if you’ve spent some time in college. One of the times, I wondered out loud if was indeed weed that I smelled. A girl sitting another row up turned around, sampled the air, and in utter excitement screamed, “I do! I do!”

Being confined in such a small space for so long makes you long for human contact and camaraderie. After switching the buses a couple of times, I noticed that two other guys were switching with me. They noticed the same thing, so we ended up sitting together and talking for hours. A bond formed on a Greyhound bus is a strong one.

When the bus finally neared New Orleans, this feeling of unity swept up the entire bus. The driver piped jazz into the PA speakers. People were hollering, dancing in the seats and singing. It really felt like the last thirty hours were compressed into the final ten minutes. The Super Dome loomed into view as the bus finally rolled off the highway and plunged into the tight New Orleans streets. The stupor spell finally lifted, and everything – everything everything everything – accelerated.

Maybe that’s what it feels like to be out of jail, and that’s why those ex-cons were so talkative. After a while, you simply get into the “I’m on the bus” mode. The world shrinks to your seat. Occasional pit stops bring great elation not normally associated with gas stations. Small pleasures matter a lot all of the sudden. Getting to the final destination also brings with it the deep realization that the world is much bigger than the bus.

What is even better in this story, is that once I was free, I wasn’t free just anywhere, I was free in New Orleans.

Sunset in the Texas Prairie

Written: March 2, 2011

About: the Texas Prairie, which I am currently traversing

I have crossed the Texas Prairie many times. Several times by car, many more by plane. The view from the skies is actually fairly unsatisfying. The view from the car is much better, but I am constantly distracted by having to pay attention to driving. The highways may be exceedingly straight, but there is an occasional mountain in the way.

Living in Arizona, I have learned to love this tremendous, vast emptiness. The Sonoran desert is just as featureless and beautiful. There is a sense of serene personal dissolution that is almost instantly meditative. The landscape is soft, minimalist, and ends far beyond the eye’s reach. It is just a near infinite expanse of land, exceeded only by an even greater sky.

This time I have the advantage of crossing the Prairie on a Greyhound bus. I have the benefit of being only feet away from the brush without the hassle of having to steer. Instead, I have the luxury of paying attention to the scene.

The sunsets in the Southwest are renowned. As everything else in nature out here, the color scheme of a sunset is as simple as it is powerful. A sunset is made of gradients, various shades of red, yellow, and brown.

My first time in the Southwest was when I moved from Florida to Arizona, driving almost the entire length of I-10. A sunset came upon me in West Texas, and I was so overwhelmed by it that I had to pull over on a pile of gravel and take it in for a little while before getting back to the road.

In the midday sun, the Prairie is bleached. The sun is so intense and bright everything is washed out, thinned out, like a wispy water color painting. There is an indication of shapes, but the colors are but polite departures from white. As the sun leans toward the horizon, the shadows begin to accumulate in the brush. Colors return vibrant and intense. It is now a rich, thick blend of yellows and browns. Everything becomes textured. The scene becomes so saturated with colors it is almost visually tangible. It is a place to rest my eyes in peace.

Are you into fun stuff?

Written: February 26, 2011, in Tucson

About: mid-January, in San Francisco

I was walking through the cool air of San Francisco winter, a few feet along the sloped sidewalk, smiling bright. The music was still in my ears, and the beat was in my step. My friend had just dropped me off near my hotel after a wonderful evening of swing, late-night pizza, and conversation. Always a late-night conversation, like a cherry at the bottom of a shake. It is that comforting light, the safe harbor at the end of the night that I always look forward to, that point where we are sitting somewhere, exhausted, and just talking. The splendor of the evening was still clinging to me; it made me warm and pleasant all over.

A crowd of drunks filled the sidewalk right in front of my hotel. The crowd was a bit older than me, and well-dressed. The sort of drunken crowd you encounter with zero apprehension. No one here is belligerent and in the mood for a fight. No one is drunk enough to spray you with vomit. Safe, but still obnoxious. I quickly glide past them and duck into the hotel.

As I am jogging up the stairs, I hear it. The late-night mating call. The drunken swipe at my serenity.

“Hey there handsome!”

I quicken my step, hop multiple stairs, and circle toward the elevators, pretending, hoping the call was not addressed to me. It was. I knew it was. A refined and beautiful evening is about to be invaded.

The hotel is quite old, and the elevators are slow. As I wait, the drunk stumbles onto the scene completely obliterated. Her sentences are short and slurred. Her gaze is unfocused. In fact, she has trouble looking at me directly, instead focusing on a spot that misses me by a few inches. A licentious smile floats on her lips. The ruin of my peace is upon me.

She introduces herself, “Shannon.” (Removed in time, I do not recall her actual name.) I politely shake her hand, and reply with my own name. My smile is conservative and strictly friendly, the hand contact brief and formal, but the subtlety is lost on her. In the alcoholic haze, she recognizes that my name is Russian, and produces a few words in my native tongue. An impressive feat, especially given her state, and I curtly compliment her knowledge. Again, my brevity and lack of enthusiasm are ignored.

The elevator arrives, but provides no relief. The lady follows me in, albeit with some difficulty. In the close confines, physical proximity cannot be avoided. Fifteen floors is suddenly a very long ride.

The ride is tense. I am keeping a polite distance, and it is finally beginning to dawn on Shannon that whatever she had imagined is not coming to pass. The realization is slowly coming to her foggy mind. She grasps something has gone wrong here. Reality and her intentions have diverged in a terrible way. Her eyes still fail to focus on me.

“So are you into fun stuff?” This is the desperate last stand. The last cards are tossed ungracefully onto the table.

“Not tonight,” I say. The universe gives the scene a screen-perfect beat of silence, then the elevator doors slide open on my floor and I step out. Shannon is left behind, confused  and regrettably disappointed.

On being away

Jan 24, 2011

En route to San Francisco

I’ve only been home for a few days, after a dash across the Atlantic and a mad time in New Orleans. I’ve gotten a bit of a somewhat regular sleep schedule – being back in Tucson after a near month absence has obligations that I didn’t expect but appreciated. It was a lovely comeback and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Yet that didn’t last long – I drove to Phoenix and jumped on a plane heading to San Francisco, with only a few things, about four hours of sleep, and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, on loan from my roommate. The story of a young writer bounding around the country, immersed in the road and the blues, had a certain irresistible appeal.

I’m in a bit of a conflict with myself over all this. Somewhere in the back of my mind I have the quiet desire for little more than a pair of warm rounded shoulder to lean on, the sort of embrace where you can easily miss an hour or a whole afternoon because you merely blinked… Strange that this is exactly what I’d found among all the thousands of miles. Life, of course, is strange and unexpected in its best moments.

The other part, of course, is the one jumping at the road, the side that keeps the bag by the door at all times. There is a mad allure to the road, some sort of predatory instinct to keep moving, to constantly search for new friends, places, tastes, visions, and stories. I don’t mean the stories of my adventures, but rather the stories of the people I come across. The road is lined with innumerable hearts, and each one has got words in it. In precious moments they open up and speak. Most of the time, the communication is not verbal, but much more subtle and accidental. It’s another traveler slumped on a bench. It’s a shy loner awkwardly sitting at the bar. It’s the kindness of strangers and incredible coincidences. The desire for these things becomes so zealous that sleep and food begin to slip away from me.

After several days on the road I find myself exhausted. I sometimes forget to eat, and sleep is minimized. When I do sleep, I actually sleep better than ever. The hours of rest are short, but an implicit understanding between the mind and the body make the most of the brief respite. The body finds reserves of energy that I could not imagine even days earlier. I find myself in the sort of spot where I simply have to keep moving. I feel a hard physical crash thudding right behind me. I just know that as long as I have something to do – work, conversation, dance – I can keep going almost indefinitely. So I keep standing, grinning. A great sense of freedom is to be found in this delirious exhaustion, and this sense makes all the misery worth the while.

Kleine Arizona

Jan 1, 2011

Grünow, Germany

The scene was improbable, if not entirely absurd. In the midst of the frozen German country side, in a tiny village of Ollendorf, I was sitting in a cowboy-styled saloon, drinking Jim Beam, and listening to My Achy Breaky Heart. A bit earlier, a drummer and a guitar player took the stage, playing a few American classics, including putting out a very zealous Knocking on Heaven’s Door. The guitarist, who did all the singing, spot on, in English, did not actually speak English.

Yet, however unlikely, the place is real. It is called Ollendorf Saloon, and a guy named Hajo runs the joint. (He is also the drummer mentioned above; together with the guitarist and a couple of other people they make up a country rock band called Purple Boots.) It is not a gig from a cross-cultural comedic movie. It is simply there, making the world a slightly better place because of its genuine zest (and a little bit of absurdity).

We shared the table with a German couple. We mended a conversation out of bits of Russian, German, and English. Mostly we agreed that beer is good. So is vodka. Whiskey was up to some debate. The conversation was punctuated by smoking, orders for more alcohol, and dancing.

The saloon itself was a fairly small place. The space was only large enough for about four tables with a few chairs about. One side of the room was the stage, permanently adorned with a drum set bearing the Purple Boots logo and stacks of amps. Hajo takes music seriously. The other end is a small bar. Mostly it’s stocked with beer (on average, far superior to any actual saloon in the States) and wine, as well as a lone bottle of whiskey. Behind the bar are the bathrooms (also far superior to any actual saloon in the States).

Another note on the music. Most of the night, the choice was techno. That is not unusual for a German setting, but downright bizarre for an actual saloon (unless the jukebox somehow finds Rednex, the Swedish country / techno band). Many of the techno tracks sampled over actual country songs. I’m not sure whether that made the scene more or less strange. Eventually, Hajo did switch to a more traditional American bar fare (including a live recording of Achy Breaky Heart). This portion of the night also included Wonderful Tonight, a rare song by Eric Clapton I actually like. It made me miss my blues-dancing friends terribly. There is something to be said about the luxury of almost always having dancer friends around. You don’t appreciate it until a good song comes on, and they’re thousands of miles away.

The customers were enthusiastic, but drunk people are usually are, especially on New Year’s Eve. I don’t think they were enthusiastic specifically for the saloon setting. However, on this account, Hajo himself made up in spades. He was positively brimming with pride in the establishment. His daughter appeared to generally share in his love of the cowboy culture – she actually learned decent two-step swing.

How the saloon came into existence is a gem in itself. Hajo, apparently, has long loved the American South-West, specifically Arizona, and the cowboy culture. However, he was never able to afford to go there. So he decided to do the next best thing – build a Western saloon. This action itself is so undeniably romantic and beautiful, I actually feel better about the human race because of it. It’s a great thing that people like Hajo still exist.

Frozen air in Grünow

Dec 30, 2010

Grünow, Germany

My first time in Grünow, and this is as wonderful a winter as I could wish for. It has been snowing around Berlin (Grünow is about an hour North of Berlin) regularly through all December. With exception of a couple brief thaws at the beginning, it hass stayed below freezing. While there is a treacherous layer of ice beneath the snow, it’s been worn through on all the major streets. Thin sheets of ice also cover all the trees. Heavy accumulation of ice and snow has broken a lot of trees and branches, temporarily shutting down some highways and railroads in the area. Though frozen, everything has been back to normal, more or less, for about a week.

Yesterday I witnessed something I have not seen in a long time – an extra-cold front rolled through and froze the air. The temperature outside dropped from -5 C to -9 C in about an hour in the middle of the day, which is an unusual swing for the area. The physics is quite simple. When the temperature drops that quickly, past the dew point, the moisture remaining in the air doesn’t have time to condense somewhere, and so it forms droplets right in the air. This is how fog is formed. Of course, if the temperature is already below freezing, it’s a frozen, icy fog. Which looks far more ominous than regular fog.

I first noticed that something was off as we were driving home from a restaurant. I was looking at a hillside where some clumps of earth were poking through the unperturbed white snow. The country here is mostly farmland, so huge plots of snow go untouched for days except for a few animals that cross them.

My eyes followed the clumps up the side of the hill. As the hill rose, the clumps became less visible. However, they were not being covered up by more snow. Their obscurity was smoky and distant. More disturbingly, the clumps faded by the hill did not seem to end. It simply rose infinitely into where the sky should have been. There was no sky. The hillside simply extended into the whiteness that now included that whole side of existence.

As I looked around, I noticed the same whiteness creeping over the distant objects all around. Trees, houses, other roads, everything was slowly dissolving. This did not seem like a fog, or a low cloud, or a snowfall. Fogs and clouds have a texture to them, and a snowfall has movement. This manifestation was almost perfectly even and motionless in its distribution. Everything simply faded and dissolved, became erased.

The temperature continued to drop for a couple more degrees, and the frozen fog set in with greater intensity. As it thickened, all that remained was the stretch of the road ahead and the row of trees following the sides of the road. Everything else was at the most a shadow reminiscent of the object’s existence. Further out, the white fields and hillsides merged seamlessly with the equally white sky.

At first, I have to admit, this brought with itself the uneasy feelings of alarm. Things were disappearing, and even the sun itself was powerless to get through the freeze. For a while, it hung in the sky as a dimly lit token of its presence. After a while, however, even this sunk into nothingness as the sky became increasingly even. Though these feelings did not last long.

All became peace and simplicity.

New Orleans, Frenchmen St.

Dec 24, 2010

Over the Atlantic

This was my third time in New Orleans, and though I liked the city well enough the first two times, this is when I really fell in love with it. The first visits were confined to Bourbon street, which is a fairly terrible place. I like terrible places, so it worked out. But it just never felt quite real. Kind of like Disney World without the Disney – fake toy houses filled with vicious drunks and naked girl with daddy issues. A compacted, storied Vegas without the excessive blinking lights everywhere.

It’s not too bad for my scene, actually, and the music is good. I appreciate any place where people feel free; and here they are free in base and awful ways. Drinks are expensive, but you can hear what you’d normally only hear on records. Solid jazz and smiling musicians. But the Disney park feeling creeps even into this. The music is exactly what you’d hear on the records. The Preservation Hall – reputedly one the best spots for jazz – is a goddam museum. Everything is covered in plexiglass, and it’s not even dusted that often. Old musicians hunched over their instruments, belting out St. James’ Infirmary for the millionth time to a crowd wearing shorts and flipflops, accompanied by glossy maps of the French Quarter advertising the best spots for po boys and gumbo. It’s a TV special – none of it is real. It’s got all the grit and zeal of a Civil War re-enactment. It’s as authentic as Williamsburg.

Frenchmen Street was different. The crowd packed the place – the Spotted Cat – wall to wall while a lone aging woman working the bar was slinging drinks all over the place. The crowd was mostly local – no obnoxious tourist t-shirts and flip-flops in this joint. There wasn’t really anywhere to sit, either. Chairs were an afterthought. And why would you want to sit? The band is right there. The dancers are coming. This isn’t something to watch half-mindedly while trading tips about hotel chain reward programs. This is a show to watch.

The musicians were different, too. All smiles and handshakes, weaving through the crowd before the show. There were no entrances. They simply took the stage and played. Their music leaned on the crowd, and the crowd drank it up. There was a bar filled with whiskey, wine, beer, and gin, but it was the band that got everyone high.

What made it even better was that the same thing was happening in another bar across the street. And another bar down the block. Abundance of good music – and the even more powerful vibes that carried it – was astounding. The whole place fucking vibrated. I drank my share of whiskey, and the place made it burn in a joyous hum.

You slide into a good dance. Rhythm, beat, connection, bounce – these are all the right things you want, but in a good dance, you simply get them. They are right here, manifested as your partner, and you take it all in your arms. A good dance takes no effort at all, even if it is fast and leaves you gasping for air on the last note. All you do is close your eyes, smile, and carry through.

I walked to the Spotted Cat from my hotel, which was on the corner of Canal and Bourbon. So to get to Frenchmen, I had to walk the entire length of Bourbon. Which was a bit like walking through some sort of trials. I had to go past all those awful bars that smell of vomit and cheap drinks, past the “Tits and whiskey” sign outside of the some strange sex show joint.

Side story – a couple years back, my roommate and I happened to be here as well, similarly driving cross-country from Florida to Arizona. We went to Bourbon Street for dinner, and camped out at a table on one of those famed balconies, eating and watching the depraved mess below. We just happened to be right across from one of those sex show bars, with a hype man outside howling at the crowd, trying to get people in. Most people come here to get a story about someone else (same as Vegas), so they limit themselves to merely getting embarrassingly drunk. Most tourists would never step inside a sex show joint, but some still do. Anyway, in the span of an hour, a handful people actually walked in. Inevitably, within minutes they stormed out of the place, past the ineffable hype man, and angrily left the scene. At one point, someone – I must assume, a performer – walked up to the door where I could see them. The woman – I’m fairly certain – was wearing something sparkling, and obscenely revealing. However, she inspired morbid curiosity rather than any kind of lust in me. I still have no idea what was going on inside, but I am decidedly curious. I need to figure out which spot that was.

Back on track. I had to walk the length of Bourbon Street until it lost all pretense of trying to look nice for the guests. I got to the part dominated by sleazy drink specials and bar flies. No jazz in this part, just obscene club music, something ridiculous that belongs in a cheap strip club. It smelled of piss and spilled drinks. It was an ugly scene. It was a party’s last desperate stand. Everyone who is left standing in the early hours of the morning is surveying the empty bottles and other similarly desperate rejects, deciding whether to attempt to mate or simply vomit and pass out.

Then there was the part that didn’t even have bars or stores or anything open to the public. People lived here. A few drunks stumbled past me, and some people who actually had to be somewhere – people who didn’t seem twisted. I was finally free of the fake Disney makeup; I was in the part of New Orleans that could pass for something like a real city where people merely lived. No one can live on Bourbon street. The madness would drive them to suicide sooner or later. This part also smelled a lot better.

Frenchmen street came up like a beacon. I could hear it before I could see it. The bars here weren’t as obnoxiously lit. Music and alcohol poured out into the streets. The first crowd I got to was definitely meaner by the look of it. Guys who were drunk and rough, swaying with cheap liquor in their veins, ready to defend something imagined but crucial against all comers. Now, this place had a ring of truth to it.

In a Jack on the rocks, the band was on. The dancers came through, and fairly quickly the cramped space before the stage was alive with lindy, blues, bal, and charleston. I love dancers. They’re always a refuge. As long as there is a modicum of space and some good music, a complete stranger will be genuinely kind to you. In no time at all, I’ve met at least some people, and was happily bouncing along to the thick jazz. Hundreds of miles of the road, lack of sleep, short scratch in the pocket – none of it really mattered in those minutes on the floor, and the minutes were strung together pretty tightly. I was inside a vortex. Time stretched out. The night flickered.

The place was so packed with the crowd and the dancers that moving on the floor became an intense exercise in traffic management. On swing-outs, the follows would be flying mere inches away from those watching. Spins had to be ever tighter and more controlled. No wide, broad moves. They had to be traded in for subtle, intimate weight shifts. I can’t help but think that this is how blues and swing are meant to be – no endless, bright-lit ballroom floors.

Dancing like this also leaves me wondering. What do the non-dancers think of people swaying slowly to blues? The close, tight connection of the dance is what makes it such a brilliant experience, but it can only be appreciated by those in the embrace. Everyone can appreciate a great swing-out, spin, or drop by merely seeing it. The blues is felt. This thought never stays long, however. After all, your partner and the music aside, the rest of the universe is utterly irrelevant when dancing the blues.

PS Meschiya Lake and her Little Big Horns – Lucky Devil.