I am passionate about dance, particularly of the Congolese hip shaking, waist twirling kind. I will dance to almost anything that has a solid rythm and I am a sucker for drums and a good bass guitar. How ever I am a self confessed slave to Congolese music, which seems to have some sort of mystical power over my body. It is my love for this music that inspired this piece. By the way, you will have to wait to read the whole story in my collection. Suffice it to say that : DANCE will make a worrior out of a mouse!!!! Enjoy!!
Stella parked her car outside Kumbi’s gate. The driveway was already packed with cars lined up bumper to bumper. She reached over to the passenger’s seat to retrieve her hand bag and the gift she had picked up at Miekles Department store. As she looked into the rear view mirror one last time to check her makeup, she smirked at the image that stared back at her. No amount of concealer and foundation could camouflage the bile green bruise that smudged its way around her left eye. She pulled the compact of foundation out of her bag and hurriedly dabbed at the insolent green ring coaxing it to fade and blend into nothingness. The eye stared back at her, fiery red and inflamed. In frustration she threw the compact against the dashboard and sent crumbs of brown powder flying from the compact as it hit its target with a loud crack.
She hissed as she tried desperately, with a shaking hand to wipe off the front of her white linen top. The crumbs of powder dissolved and left streaks of brown across her shirt. Stella could feel herself unraveling and the tears fighting their way through ducts swollen from overuse the night before. She swallowed hard, fighting the anger that threatened to explode her head and the water works that seemed determined to ruin her makeup and her contrived enjoyment. She took several deep breaths and eased herself out of her car. She took out her sunglasses and hid the evidence of her abusive, unhappy marriage behind them. She adjusted her black skirt, which obstinately kept riding up her thighs as she strode purposefully in the direction of the pulsating music. She wished she had not put on all this weight, which, like her marriage was choking her.
With one last big breath she summoned her party smile, plastered it on her face and flung the door to the living room open. The vibrations of Soukous music enervated her and she walked into the packed living room to the rhythm. Kumbi walked over to her and shouted above the music.
“Stella, hi! So glad you could make it! Come on this way. You have to see this!”
Kumbi grabbed Stella by the hand and pulled her towards the circle of women in the center of the room. She recognized most of their mutual friends who gave her a quick smile and a nod but quickly turned their attention back to the center of the circle. Stella’s eyes turned curiously to the circle and her lower jaw dropped as she watched a nubile girl dressed in black yoga pants and a cropped white T shirt. Stella stood transfixed as the girl’s waist twirled round and round, her back ramrod straight. She held her head aloft, and rolled her hips languidly and effortlessly in perfect time to the intoxicating base of the rumba song. She recognized the song immediately. It was the very popular Koffi Olomide’s “Loi”, a scintillating three part number which transported you across the three stages in the journey of a river, in reverse. It began as a wide, leisurely meandering body of water, through a tranquil landscape with an unhurried tempo. It branched into a narrower, faster flowing tributary, with a quickened but controlled tempo, steadily gathering momentum. Suddenly the tributary fanned out into shimmering rivulets fast and forceful, sparing nothing in their paths as they race up mountain slopes to climax at the pinnacle and be sucked up as vapor into the clouds, totally spent.
Despite the energetic thumping of the music, the girl was like a tightly coiled spring, controlling her movements, teasing the crowd as she lowered herself onto her haunches, undulating her belly like a snake slithering through grass.
Stella was mesmerized by the whole scene before her. The girl’s facial expression was of one who was not aware of her surroundings. Her glistening almond eyes seemed glazed over and it was as though she looked without seeing. Her half smile would occasionally widen into a full pearly toothed smile as she threw her head back, stepped forward as though about to fall and pulled herself back into an upright position, all the while twirling her waist and keeping her waist beads in hypnotizing circular motion. The tattoo at the base of her spine danced to the percussion of the waist beads, creating a sensuous mix of sound and sight. After a while the distinction between dancer and music became blurry. The dancer was the music and the music was the dancer, the two fused in an intimate lover’s embrace, caressing each other to greater and greater heights of pleasure.
As the tempo of the music shifted to the highest gear the dancer beckoned provocatively to Stella from her spot in the center of the circle. Enthralled and without thinking, Stella dropped both bag and gift onto the floor and moved through the passage created by the other women. The dancer smiled seductively and kept her eyes on Stella’s. She moved with the confidence of a woman who is mistress of her domain as she circled Stella, forcing her to turn around in order to maintain eye contact. To Stella’s surprise, the dancer pulled her gently but firmly towards her, turned around quickly and placed Stella’s hands on her waist. She started to move to the tempo speeding up and gyrating the very soul out of the music and infusing it with her own. The dancer started moving round in a circle, small quick steps all the while winding her waist and her hips so that Stella could feel the firm relentless rhythmic movements in her hands. Suddenly Stella felt her waist respond, her thighs moved as though suddenly wakened from slumber and she too started to rotate her hips as she moved round the room. Before she knew it, Bertha had her hands round her waist and was frenziedly moving her hips as Koffi’s cooing voice became an urgent raspy wail through which the electric guitar and the base drum frantically ducked and wove, daring the dancers, now four now eight, then18 of them, to face, embrace and give full expression to their primal nature. Each woman’s waist hips and buttocks interpreted the rapid rendition of rhythm and sound in their own unique way but all unified in the irresistible, raw potency of the dance.