Mural by Thomas Hart Benton
Let the outrage machine simmer.
Turn off the echo chamber.
Take a breath. Exhale.
Invest six minutes in some simple joy.
Maybe a memory or a YouTube video
Search for something like:
“Crazy good dancing”
And see what comes up.
Wantonly happy dancers
All legs and jazz and smiles
Effortless abandon belying the practice, practice, practice.
Lose yourself in the motion
In the ecstasy
In the rhythm and youth and heat and sweat.
Remember all the times you
Could have danced and chose not to.
Too late for regret but ample time
And wonder if every step not taken
On some lacquered floor
Now rises up like bile,
Angry fingers dancing across a cold keyboard
Dance, dance in your room.
Dance, dance in your yard.
Dance, dance in the office.
Dance, dance in your cubicle.
Dance, dance in the post-op.
Dance, dance in the checkout line.
Dance, dance on ZOOM with everyone you know and strangers.
For once, we have the space to dance.
Social distancing creates its own stage.
Dance as if the sanity and safety
Of the whole world depends
On your awkward, gangly, unique
Beautiful, joyous, free steps.
Don’t post, don’t throw more flames on
Facebook fires already consumed.
Step away from the keyboard
And dance, dance, dance.
Recall that long-ago Sunday trip
To storied Rosarito Beach Hotel,
Safely south of Tijuana’s gamey streets.
A womb of illusions and harmless fantasies,
Behind ancient stone walls,
And thick oak doors. An escape
For those who could not afford a flight,
Could not afford a house in Palm Springs,
Missed the invite to Malibu.
The bar on the bluff
Overlooking the crystalline capped surf
Contained like a landscape in glass windows
And tinkling bar glasses
All glass and lapping cerulean expanses .
Like flying. Above it all.
With a white baby grand on a lemon oak-panel floor.
And kids, Hollywood kids
Refugees from the studio lots and unemployment lines
And waitress jobs, and parking lots
All tumbled down to Rosarito, answering a primal cry
For something exotic, something foreign
Something away, just far enough away
To rekindle thwarted dreams
Here, in the Rosarito’s bar
We’re all somewhat mysterious celebrities,
Stars on the lam, like Gable, Lombard, Bogie.
Bar the doors to the imaginary paparazzi,
Warm up the piano,
Let the revue begin! What
Did they say … Let’s put on a show!
Kids with a thick dossier of rejections
And even more talent
Leap to the floor
Singing and dancing with abandon
Sweaty abandon, finely honed and practiced abandon
From high school musicals and college debuts
And second rows on stage
And gaudy rock-star glutted stripper bars.
Icy margaritas fuel scorching moves,
Saucy, sultry, racy chops
Designed for the lines of thin summer dresses
And nicely fitted khaki slacks and T’s.
Star-struck dreams are tossed,
With flaming hot ambitions,
Into the dance floor bonfire,
Like nothing matters, when
But not now, god willing, not now.
Now is only the music and the chops
And the hothouse air and tropic sun
And shimmering mirrored ocean below
And Spanish exclamations from smiling bartenders
And the illusion that we are all
In a Cinemascope Technicolor
Foreign film, the script of which,
Is within our own power
Every moment is a closeup
Everyone is a star. Everyone is
Hitting it big.
Monday is an opening-night away.
More margaritas, amigos.
More music, more dance, more song
For up North, a thousand more
Just like us
Are having their dreams coddled and crushed
On the mercilessly hot streets of Hollywood.
But not you, not me
The war will still be raging when we return.
But we will rejoin the fray with smiles
A new, fresh look for the face.
Isn’t that worth it?