Tuesday, January 24, 2012

stress relief with the Angolans

“Girl, you need to get out of town to relax and get your mind off things,” Wi11bed0ne tells me. “Felix’s parents have a trophy lodge outside of Okahandja. Why don’t you come spend the weekend with us up there?”

She’s right. I’ve been through a stressful week, having my house broken into and being robbed of almost everything valuable that I had brought to Africa. When I called home to Canada to tell my parents, the news, I found out that they had been in a ten car accident on the highway because of the snow and the ice. They were very shaken up. On the same day, the car my sister had been driving broke down and refused to be fixed one last time.

I maintained that I was feeling perfectly fine despite being robbed, but then I always have a tendency to repress my feelings. But it occurred to me that I might be stressed out too when I found myself wolfing down a sugary calorie-filled apple tart while standing in front of the gym I had been planning to work out at, feeling uncharacteristically sluggish.

I declined politely though, not wanting to impose on a possibly awkward situation. Felix is Wi11be’s ex, whom she still lives with because she’s still looking for another place to stay. I told her that I had plans for an intense three hour workout at the gym: that should shake my blues.

“Okay,” she said, determined to take care of me, bless her soul. “But we should go out tonight.”

And that’s how I ended up at an Angolan house party in Windhoek West. It was quite the party. Apparently the kids had shown up for lunch, and by the time we arrived at two in the morning, the party was still going on strong, with Angolan music videos playing on the flat screen TV while the kids danced and the host tried to shush everyone so the neighbours wouldn’t complain.

I had, for some reason, assumed that most of the Angolans in the Namibia would be refugees fleeing from the civil war. According to my friends, Windhoek is has a lot of wealthy Angolan kids sent to Namibia to study, whose parents send them money every month so they can party all weekend long. It sounds fantastic. I’m not sure I have the stamina for that. I’m not sure I had the stamina for that in university.

When we arrived at the party, we were presented with loud cheers and Angolan-style greetings (two kisses on the cheek, they insisted. One bow, I replied) and boxed wine and smoked ham. The host was a young guy of few words named Eddie who had an odd affinity for women’s shoes. He immediately took my shoes, a pair of high heels that Micheal had convinced me to wear for the night, and starting prancing around in them with far more grace than I could. Well, fair is only fair so I grabbed his flipflops (Micheal says you can always tell someone is Angolan by the “pluckies” they are wearing that are several sizes too small) which fit me far more comfortably than my stilettos. That was how I found myself dancing with a guy who was wearing my own heels.

The Angolans were trying to teach me to dance. There was a lot of booty popping. Everyone in the music videos was booty popping, all the girls, even the drag queen (especially the drag queen). Everyone dancing on the floor was booty popping. Booty popping is not a really standard Canadian dance move when you're singing along to, say, Stan Rogers or Great Big Sea, and I feel like booty popping is not a standard dance move in traditional Korean dance repertoire either (from what I gather, Korean dance involves a lot of careful stepping and smiling sadly but bravely with your eyes lowered to the ground).

Nevertheless, I was doing my best, but the Angolan style of music, kizomba, is difficult not because it’s complicated, but because the beat is much slower than hiphop. Just imagine that you’re at your high school dance, and the slow dance is on, but instead of just awkwardly standing with your partner a foot apart with your hand reluctantly on his sweaty shoulders while the chaperone carefully supervises, you are expected to dance closely following your partner’s skillful steps with a million intricate and subtle movements using muscles that you didn’t realized moved. The kids alternated between being horrified that I danced “like a white person” (their words, not mine) and laughing at my attempts. Like I said, I tried. What was a bit distracting was the fact that I swear the music kept repeating “Pikachu, Pikachu, Pikachu” which I am pretty sure is a Japanese anime, and not a Portguese musician. Meanwhile, Wi11bed0ne was out on the dancefloor shaking what she’s got and putting this Canadian girl to shame.

The kids nicknamed me Japonês, not because they thought I was Japanese, but because it was a far catchier name than Coreano. I suggested that they could just call me Gloria or even Guns, but Japonês just rolls off the tongue a lot easier.

The party was shut down, as all good parties are, when the police arrived at four in the morning. I was amazed at how quickly the music was turned down and the lights flicked off at the sight of a cop car. A police officer came out to tell Eddie that neighbours were complaining about some party noise.

“Yeah, it must those neighbours we have in the back,” Eddie replied, shaking his head. “They’ve been making loud noises all night. It’s just terrible. You must do something about it.”

While I was admiring Eddie’s suberb acting, another neighbor came out of her house and joined us. “What’s going on?” she asked.

“Some neighbours complained about the party noise,” I told her.

“You know,” the girl said, suddenly turning indignant. “I bet you it was those white neighbours of ours who complained. I am not racist, but I just hate white people sometimes. They move into our black neighbourhoods, and they know there are black people there, and then they complain about our noises and our parties. I mean, where do they think they are? And they can just be so racist.”

I’m trying to think of something to say when Wi11bed0ne finally finds us a cab so we can sneak away from the police. “Gosh, that’s just awful,” I say to Wi11bed0ne in the car.

“You know, I’m pretty sure that she’s the one who called the cops,” she tells me.

i really like this song

I’m feeling pretty good right now, and start wondering if I really want to go to the gym for three hours tomorrow. I’ve already been dancing all night, and the sun is going to come up in an hour or two. I turn to Wi11bed0ne. “Let’s go to Okahandja tomorrow,” I say. “Road trip!”

“I’ve already told Felix,” she says, beaming.