Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Moving on from my last chat

!1_multipart Need that shock to get started , caffeine free coffee, caffeine is a diuretic and quite toxic for some one with adrenaline problems and a dicey liver.
I must update my photo, I do smile but hate being photographed.
Well where was I, 1982 December.
My mother's family, the Willhemse's, where a very social and tightly knit group, with 18 brothers and sisters, numerous other relatives the old generation(my mother's) could easily fill any hall and this they loved to do, always a birthday or a marriage and the then occasional funeral. Sadly there are a lot more funerals now as they succumb to old age and illness. So believe me when I say it was a whirl of faces and places. Now I have hundreds of cousins, vastly ranging in age, most of them I had never met, I didn't even know that most of them existed. A good part probably 80% don't even speak more than a few words of English. I had stopped speaking Afrikaans when I was 4 or 5. But still understood a fair bit of the more simple parts, so we got by when it came to chatting. Of course I drifted more towards the relatives more in my age group which is natural. This is when I was introduced to boere musik, sokkie sokkie, lang arem dancing, now that was a very different type of night life I had never experienced before.
The boere dans jol.
Well a group of the younger cousins had decided that it was time to get down and really party, it was after all Christmas time. So now they are going to take me to disco's Afrikaner style. So first thing was to buy the supplies for the night. Half a lamb , couple bags of Braai wood (Barbeque),a few kilos of wors, salads ,rolls and finally the dop. Drink was cheap then , beers came in quarts , pints and dumpies.Two dozen dumpies cost the equivalent of about £3. about $6, quarts about 40 pence. But that was only the refreshers the serious drinkers drank Brandy. A litre bottle of Brandy and a 2 litre coke  for each. Cost, a very cheap £2 about $4.
In those days you paid for the entertainment and refreshments ,whether you brought your own ,or bought inside was optional. It still is in some places. Towards the end of the evening there is the fire, more drinking and hot braaied meat.

So that in itself was different .My first South African disco was pure cultural shock. Nothing too untoward about the club, large roomy dance floor, disco lights ,band stage and DJ boothe. But there was something covering the dance floor, sawdust. That was new. The place was packed, whole families where there, from Granny right down to baby on the breast, that was new. The music was already playing , it was 5 in the afternoon, that's new, let the party begin. Now Boere musik is a gendre of it's own, based on traditional music the bands consist of a  hand concertina player, drummer, violin and a  larger piano  accordion and of course the mouth organ. Sometimes sad but more often played at a cracking lively pace. It can't be described it must be experienced, the closest I can describe it is a very fast Kentucky Blue grass rhythm.
Now came the eye opener, this is disco Sa style. Already there was a packed dance floor and something strange was happening ,yes people were dancing to this music. A mass of twirling ,spinning bodies, the saw dust was to allow the sliding of the shuffle glide which was part of the dance steps. The dance in itself is a combination of two step, foxtrot and waltz with a few little  fancy twists and changes of foot position thrown in. The dancers bodies are held straight  the man or leader holds the waist of their partner with the right hand, the left arm is raised and held straight and what looked like a thumb lock (to me) is applied by the lady, or the follower's ,right hand ,the left hand holding onto the right shoulder. An off you go, I never experienced anything like it before , I don't know if I got more tired from the dancing or my clumsy attempts to keep up with and in step with my partners and the laughter it brought on . Myself and theirs. My first night out with my cousins is etched in my memory so deeply that I can hear the music and see all their faces as if it is happening now. But 26 years have passed. All in all it was a night that didn't end for months. One party after another. But was muted by my ex wife not being there. At the time I was still married and had only been apart from her a few days , the fall came later. So how did the night end. We all decided to see the dawn in on the beach, so we headed for the Strand (a Towns  name which also means beach.) We walked the shore and watched the bright South African sun come up, we inhaled the smells of the sea , that mixture of salt and rotting seaweed ,dampness tinctured with a slight acidness of  air not totally polluted by our urban environment. Then we skinny dipped , with the sounds of the gulls, laughter and crashing waves, all the while the music and the sights and smells of the night still echoing.
I am not dead yet so this is still a work in progress, I have had a fortunate life and it goes on still. There will be more thoughts and reflections on today , my past and the future. Just to be able to do this and put  down in words and share it, makes me so much more fortunate. For when life passes my memories and thoughts will fleetingly and ghostly remain after. In you the reader.apic150

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