An Intersection Dancer Speaks
By Helen Chester
(when The Intersection was still at
630 N. Alvarado St., Los Angeles 26, CA)
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Even before I entered the door I could hear the music. Clear up the street I felt it, before the notes became distinguishable and resolved themselves into a familiar tune. Maybe I'd even felt it at home before I decided to come down. All I'd wanted then -- or so I'd thought -- was to read for a while and then go to bed. But the music knew better and so it had brought me here in the middle of the night.
Tired feet were forgotten in the rhythm of the dance. Suddenly I was smiling and laughing as my spirit acquired a new burst of energy. Around me others were experiencing the same thing. Funny how dancing does that to a person at the Intersection.
There came a pause. Temporarily winded, I sat down to watch for a while. The music began again and a line formed for a Tsamiko. Every so often the line would halt as the leader performed a new variation and then, hypnotized by the music, it would move on again. Suddenly I thought, "This is not a dance, this is life." For a short time a person leads, then he drops off and another takes his place. The process is endless. There is something both tragic and relentless about it -- and there is joy in it too. The young dance swiftly -- their movements are expansive, proud. The old are quieter -- they have had their day in the spotlight and now they watch those who have followed them -- and perhaps they remember. But they must keep on dancing -- else they die a spiritual death even before their physical bodies fall.
I got up to dance again, but now it was different. Somehow I felt quieter. A few more dances and I left, realizing for the first time in several hours that I was tired. Threads of music followed me out the door and wavered momentarily in the night air as I got into my car. Then they vanished as I drove off under the stars.
Used with permission of the author.