Thursday, March 15, 2007

He's the Greatest Dancer!

There I was. Wednesday evening. In Colombo. Hot and excited. In a temperature and temperament way, not like a dog on heat.

Dominic Sansoni, whose family goes back a rather long way with mine, had agreed to take me out to the Castle Hotel in Slave Island. He picked me up from my hotel and we headed there with his cousin Ben from Hong Kong.

Now Dom had mentioned the Castle Hotel to me before but I had never realised it was this place, one that I go past many times every day when in Colombo, as it's near to my hotel. I wouldn't dare venture in there without a "known fellow" and what better "known fellow" than Mr S himself. But, the thing I always notice about many places like this in Sri Lanka, the places that aren't frequented by people with money, the places that aren't full of MP's sons and aren't jam packed with Sudhas (like me), is that the people are usually friendly and politely inquisitive. It's that one just by the railway station that looks rough yet strangely picturesque. Like one of those wild west taverns patronised by cowboys, prostitutes and bank robbers.

Instead of a row of horses outside there was a row of three wheelers, instead of cowboys there were tri shaw drivers, instead of bank robbers there were normal fellows and prostitutes were nowhere to be seen.

In the UK the wealthy type of chap would get seven shades of crap beaten out of him just for setting foot in this kind of place, but in the UK I'm not wealthy, nor do I go to the equivalent places very often, so it's not a real risk in my life. But here we got a lot of looks, just more out of warm interest than aggression or anger. People were nice and talked and smiled and Dom even took a few pictures of one chap at one point. Everything was relaxed and easy going with never the slightest hint of nastiness.

We found ourselves a table and started to drink, arrack and ginger beer. I still smile at the thought of the rubbish disposal system, or the floor. We ate fish in all forms, there was some beef stuff, there was more arrack, then we repeated it all many times over. Arrack is something I adore so the drinking thing wasn't too taxing at all. After a few bottles of the stuff I started to lose some of my British inhibitions and, at one stage, I almost threw some rubbish on the floor. Actually I did and it was strangely liberating.

It was one of those rather unreal occasions, we drank, we chatted about all sorts, I just can't recollect any of it. I lapsed into the nice merry state, probably the best type of drunkenness to experience, when you can talk, you can listen, you can keep drinking and crucially, you haven't "broken your seal".

Like a zookeeper I guard my seal as if my life depends on it. My best mate P gave me the whole "seal" metaphor and it's one that I've heard from other people since then. It's a man thing, although I met a woman once who claimed the same seal breaking feelings. I don't believe her, in my experience women often make up stuff like this for attention. But, she did pee a lot.

Breaking your seal is that first pee of the night, sometimes essential but always regretted. It's OK when you're out for a meal with the wife or when you're at home or something but, when you're out drinking with the lads, you should treasure it like a great snare drum. Because once it's broken you'll be peeing all night and the more you drink the weaker you will gets, as does your seal.

But, in every possible way I was in a nice setting. Ensconced in a good place, with some bloody pleasant chaps, drinking arrack, eating fish and things and all in a Country I am ever so slightly fond of. We had to leave though, dinner at the house was waiting and some wives and girlfriends were anxious to see their other halves, a somewhat alien concept to me but not to these chaps! Off we went to their house.

When we arrived there were women everywhere of many generations. There was (Aunty) Barbara and all the Sansoni children and Naz of course, officially Colombo's sexiest woman. I've got several rather hazy memories of this couple of hours.

One Sansoni daughter told me that she reads my blog. This blogging thing continues to astound and amaze me. I met a few people in Sri Lanka who said that they read it and were actually rather complimentary about it. A couple of people even mentioned a "writing style" that they thought I have. This genuinely, hand on heartedly touches yet bemuses me. Simply because I don't have a writing style, all I do is type the stuff as it comes into my head. I might take many things less seriously than other people do but that's about it. So every time I meet the odd person who says a nice word to me it just doesn't make sense, but it's also really nice to hear too.

There's a delicate issue going on in my mind here. You see, now I know that one of the Sansoni Juniors reads this, maybe only occasionally, I'm having big concerns about the whole "Colombo's sexiest woman" tag being put out, by me, into the Universe about her Mother. But, these things have to be said, compliments are nice things, but only if they're genuine and not dished out at every opportunity. I wonder how I'd feel if someone said the same about my Mother. Gobsmacked springs to mind.

I do remember making a phone call to my parents, then passing the phone to Aunty Barbara to talk to my Mum. I remember an exchange of text messages between my brother and Naz, on my phone of all things! I remember a rather surprising exchange of texts between myself and another friend, one of the rare times that evening when I got to use my phone. Good too.

The best phone bit was when mine rang and I answered it, as I often do. I was chatting to Naz at the time so, if you think I'm making this up just ask her.

"Rhythmic, where are you?" the voice said.

"Err hello Son I'm with some friends at the moment" I said to my brother, the other one, the one you don't know that well. He more or less runs the music business in the UK you know.

"OK, I'm just about to drive past your house and was wondering if you fancy going for an Indian or something"

"Actually I can't at the moment"

"No come on, I'll be there in about 5 minutes"

"Son, I can't" I said


"I'm in Colombo"

"Ah shit, sorry I totally forgot"

We continued. There was food and more drinks and good conversation and laughter and fun. It was one of those relaxed family dinner settings that are a great Sri Lankan thing. My family has it in England and every Sri Lankan family seems to have them, maybe it's an Asian thing. An atmosphere of laughter and family, of everyone wanting to be together and all feeling happy. I felt welcomed and comfortable and a tad under the influence.

Then, after all had eaten and the older and the younger generations retired to their beds, myself, Dom, Naz and Ben headed off to R + B, where I had agreed to meet some friends and we had been told a good time would be had by all. By this stage I was a lot more than "a tad under the influence" but all in a good way, I had been smart and hadn't mixed my drinks so life was peachy.

You know when you see pictures of the Beckhams going out to a club or something and there's some nondescript friend of their's lurking in the background, someone whose identity no one either knows or actually cares about? Well now I know what that bloke feels like, although I'm not sure Dom looks a lot like David Beckham. Then again, I'm not sure Becks is that good at photography. At least they both wear sarongs.

The Sansonis got rather swamped by people, the cousin was off playing pool so I concentrated on talking to the handful of people that I did know there and continuing in my plan to establish myself as the greatest dancer since Nureyev, or one of those other black guys. In my later years I have discovered the tremendous effect that alcohol has on my dancing abilities. It's not that I lose inhibitions or feel more relaxed or anything like that at all. No way. I am positive that I become a better dancer as I drink. So, in my rather advanced state of inebriatedness, I became a dance god, an idol of many, a figure of admiration. I could tell from the way people were laughing and pointing, always a clear sign.

This is all good. If Colombo wants me to dance, I shall dance. I just might need copious amounts of alcohol to "relax" my dancing muscles and to bring my hidden talents to the forefront of my conscious being. Or perhaps I'll stick to drumming.

But I have a problem. I can't hide it and I must share it with you. It's the problem of dodgy Colombo covers bands. Not that the bands are that bad, not that the musicians are bad, not that the presentation is bad. No, my problem is centred around two things; firstly I can't abide some of the songs that get played every night at each of the usual venues by each of the usual bands. Songs like "Wonderful Tonight", "La Bamba" and all that melodic stuff. If I hear "Knocking on Heaven's door" in a reggae style again I might just do something unBritish like complain.

My analysis of the problem is that many of these bands are like aggressive dogs. Ones that have had their balls removed. I'm going to do a whole separate post on the subject, so that's all I'm saying for now. Apart from the fact that I have seen some truly world class musicians and bands playing in Colombo, as well as some rubbish. My worst nightmare is these bands who are clearly very good, but sound crap.

I danced though, for hours and hours. Every song became an opportunity for me to show my prowess and natural flair for shaking bodily parts that I had forgotten even existed. At some stage Dom and Naz sloped off but I only realised this sometime afterwards. It was about the point that I noticed that I had started to have a hangover, always an enigmatic phenomenon when there has been no sleep involved. I went off with the friends and, at about 6AM, was in some part of the Cinnamon Grand watching them eat, feeling very tired and drinking more arrack and Diet Coke, only without the arrack side of things.

I got dumped back at my hotel, rolled into my bed, there was daylight streaming all over my room. Isn't funny how those thin shards of light that stream through cracks in curtains can be so painful yet you can't be bothered to shut the curtains properly. Or is it just me?

I slept like a baby. A very drunk baby. A very happy baby. I had one of those grins on my face. The type of grin a chap with an IQ of 50 has when he's told that they made a dreadful mistake and his IQ is actually 60.

It was a very memorable night and I loved all of it, the extremes were interesting and fun. The contrast between the Castle Hotel and R + B was massive, the contrast between the respective bills would have been massive too.

Dom, Naz and everyone else involved, thanks so, so much for a wicked evening. I hope there are more.

Guess what?

The next day was even better.


Lady divine said...

i actually enjoyed reading that entire post....and most parts of it made me smile..:-)

and I'm definitely eagerly waiting to read more..:-)

Yoyo said...

Hi, People do read your blog, known or unknown people. I belong to the latter,and feel you do have a writting style which I like to call "Casual & comfortable" you may be British or Sri Lankan what ever, but I like to tag you as Global will fit any where,just keep writting even if you have noticed you got talent mid way on this wondeful journey called life!

jules said...

I can't believe I missed the greatest dancer at R&B! Gutted! Great write up of a fantastic night out though. The Saturday night band have seemed fine when I've been there - with a very talented guitarist last time whose name escapes me. Shame you're not here to party in Hikkaduwa this weekend. Will have an arrack & ginger beer for you! J.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Lady Divine - Thanks, I'll keep posting up stuff as I get it done

Yoyo - mmm "casual and comfortable" - I'm not sure that fits with my rock 'n' roll image, the one I have of myself at least! As for the talent and Global citizen bits, that's very nice of you to say so.

Jules - There'll be plenty more opportunities I'm sure. The band thing is hard to put into words, which is why I'll try a whole post on it. It's just a sensation I have that they often make themselves sound worse than they actually are.

N said...

Hey RD you ever read Bill Bryson...just reading Down Under and ur styles seem somewhat similar...

U were at the Sansoni's place off Dickmans Road? Funny, I live just there as well...and out of curiousity, you were dancing by urself at RnB?

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

n - Thanks a lot, I've never actually read Bill Bryson but will investigate further.

Dancing by myself no! There was a bevy of beautiful women flocking around me at every moment!

Anonymous said...

Thank God for people as nice as you. You make us laugh, you make us smile. Bless you....