On the Weihnachtsmarkt before it closed I had this most marvellous adventure. Rounding the corner my friend & I following the thread of sound came on these two solemn, courtly black American musicians, not young, setting forth the Gospel According to Lionel Richie. I have never been a convert but somehow the lissom groove of All Night Long got underneath my skin. I started to wiggle, stepping tentatively, dancing. My friend went rigid with embarrassment: Cathoel don’t! My arms were full of parcels and my boots were caked in snow but I danced. The dudes onstage picked up their feet, the groove came issuing from them, I love it when music is hired but you feel the mastery and its freedom. You can’t buy me!
Now, I was shy! this took some effort! but I had to, the sinew of the tune was irresistible: the thread. Within a few bars this strange miracle had started to happen. A lady near me raised her beaker of Glühwein and danced a little shimmy for her stolid male partner, jokingly. Our eyes met and she kept dancing. Within moments it seemed all the crowd was moving. We were dancing! We were dancing. At the end of the song another came and we all danced to that too. Then I shimmied away up the alleyway between the lighted stalls, night was coming on and it was so cold, women and men were laughing and showing one another their moves and applauding in little local circles and the sense of a shared joy gave everything this golden warmth; everything but the sky, the snow, the cobblestones. As the strains of sound fell back behind us we came round another corner and there people were skating, silent and as if motionless, around and around in a spellbound circle. Because I constantly battle my shyness I have started groups of people dancing before, but never with such universality. And this seemed a middle-aged, cold-stamping crowd. Maybe that’s why, in fact. Nothing to lose.