onsdag, september 06, 2006

The Aerials of Nyhavn

Not the swing aerials I witnessed at McJoy's, but similar.

On the last night in Copenhagen, feeling a bit sad about the impending departure, I wandered over to Nyhavn 17 where I'd found the interior highly conducive to writing. The winds outside were strong, and each time the door opened I had to shield the candle on my table to keep it lit.

I wrote fiercely while an adorable student took to the mic and played acoustic versions of American songs from the 60s and a few from the 80s. She played Dylan's "Times They are A-Changin'," so I thanked her on behalf of Minnesota during the break.

"Have you heard Dylan's newest one?" she said. "The very new new new one?" I said I hadn't. "I'm going to give it three more listens," she said, "and then maybe close it for good."

It's a curious thing how well Scandanavians play American folk. They play it with an honesty we don't seem to possess anymore on this side of the Atlantic. Maybe we feel the '60s are too far away. Or maybe we play it with the same honesty but we can't avoid a self-important, disastrous sentimentality.

I'm not sure. They're just more straightforward with it. More natural. Or maybe my ears are welcoming to it simply because I'm Elsewhere.

It was a really productive writing session. Then a Swede leaned over and started what turned out to be a very spirited conversation. He launched it in Swedish, but I asked as soon as I could without feeling rude if we might speak English--"Får vi tala engelska?"--and he said, laughing, "Ah, then you ARE American!"

"Why are Americans always writing in Europe?" he said. "We like it, but it makes us laugh."

It was a fine time.

Afterwards, I walked along the canal. When I reached the corner pub (McJoy's) across from my hotel, I decided to pop in for one more pint before the next day's airport hell was upon me.

A rollicking young group stood in the center. They were hugging one another. They were laughing loudly. Their cheeks were rosy with drink. They danced for 45 seconds at a time.

I asked the barman, "Is it like this at the end of every night?" and he smiled in a way that said he did not know if he could say what maybe he wanted to say. "No," he said with a good nature. "Not always."

I sat with my notebook and chased out a few more thoughts while the young group continued their rambles. Abruptly they pushed aside some tables and chairs to create a more open space. One of them, a young man with boxer shorts that kept popping into view, began a clinic on dance aerials.

(Sidenote: Those boxers had something like sailboats and berries. They made me think of kitchen curtains.)

One by one women would come forth and he'd toss them about. He spun them around his body. They jumped and wrapped their legs around him. Pause. They he'd dip them lower, rise, and cast them out into the bar where they landed with greater and lesser form.

Finally, the aerials got a bit too adventurous, or maybe he'd grown tired, or maybe the suspension of disbelief that alcohol enables had worn out. He twisted a young woman around, but as she passed behind him at a near horizontal postion, he lost his grip and she crashed out behind him. And he fell back upon her.

It was magnificent. They laughed themselves to tears. Everyone was happy.

I imagine the night felt much different for them and their kidneys in the morning, but it was grand for me then to have witnessed their spirit and the memory remains so now.

Trip fact:
I fell in love 3422 times.
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