Another call from Antonio. He tells me about an important gala dinner, plus award ceremony, in the mystic “Pirámides de Güímar”. Playing for dessert: the Alabama Dixieland Jazz Band. I already know the drill. If Antonio says it’s important, then it’s important.
“Okay, I’ll be there. But I’ll bring my 20s costume, and if there’s any chance, I’ll dance a Charleston. What songs will you play?” I have no idea what came over me that made me offer him my first spontaneous Charleston performance just like that!
And so I went to the Pyramids of Güímar, dressed up in my gown, in order to get to know Tenerife’s most influential people. In my own way, I had a chat with the “important” persons, while poor Antonio was standing next to me, this time in silence, astonished at my quick tongue. I even had a go at Fred Olsen, dignified head of the same-named shipping company and the pyramids, and explained to him who I was and what I did. He didn’t have the faintest notion. “My dear Mr Olsen, you don’t know my name yet, but someday you will remember it”, I answered back with a wink.
What followed was the everlasting gala dinner. My boys’ gig was put back to 11 p.m. and I was getting more and more nervous. Time and again I left the marquee to have a look at the pyramids that shimmered in a marvellous light. The temple precincts, consisting of six pyramids, were only “discovered” and then uncovered by Thor Heyerdahl in 1991. And the fascinating thing is that the pyramid complex was designed astronomically! That way, you can see the sun set twice at summer solstice: The sun sets behind the mountaintop, passes it, reappears, and declines a second time behind the adjacent mountain. Thor Heyerdahl tried to prove that this time record and this mysterious system created by Tenerife’s original inhabitants, the guanches, could be linked to the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt and those of Teotihuacan in Mexico.
Thoughts are buzzing in my head, the full moon is above me, I have goose bumps and am more than nervous. “If it’s not here, then where will it be? And if not now, when?” I take a deep breath, put on my fringe dress, the feathered headband, gloves that reach up to my armpits, a boa, a garter. And I jump in at the deep end. My genuine 20s costume came as a surprise to the band members (so far, those poor musicians hadn’t really known what they had to put up with, how could they, without any rehearsals) and I informed them that I would dance during their second song.
Five minutes before show time, my knees were getting weak. Geez, I thought, what have I got myself into? Are you crazy? You don’t know the choreography, the cement floor is rough and thus totally inappropriate for a Charleston, on top of which you haven’t rehearsed with the guys…
Too late! Antonio was already introducing me. Well then, and then there was nothing else for it but to live an emotion in front of the audience – and that with all my might. I beamed myself back into the 1920s, felt Josephine Baker in my butt, twisted my legs, with twice the effort because of the ground. While dancing, I felt totally lost, as if in a state of trance. But the audience, clapping enthusiastically, delivered me from my trance.
“Phew, done!”, I thought and gasped for air. But as soon as I had more or less recuperated more or less, Antonio announced me for another song, even though I tried to signal to him that the floor was too… In vain, so here we go again, this time a little sassier. During “When the saints go marching in”, the band as well as the audience were up on their feet, there was a lot of improvisation, the atmosphere was exuberant.
Wow, a total success! I would never have thought that I could make it – after all, this was my very first dance performance in front of an audience! I had never performed without uttering a single word. Mind you, I couldn’t have said much, breathless as I was out of excitement, physical effort and joy. Suddenly I knew that DIXIEMANIA stood for the future and I was following the right path. That evening, even Fred Olsen left loping in Charleston steps.
The next day, I could feel every bone in my body and my butt stiff and aching. Maybe Josephine Baker really did lend me her bottom for the night. Or was it the magic of the pyramids? The sitting – or rather dancing – on a volcano?
In any case, this was the beginning. The continuation will soon be published in the NEWS section.
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