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Contact improv at a hippie hideout 2017/10/23 CanMasdeu

On Sunday, Neil, Mauve and I took the train from the historic centre of Barcelona almost to the end of the line and walked a few hundred metres up the hill. CanMasdeu is a huge, institutional building, surrounded by trees and a veggie garden. It has a cross over its highest arch and has a view across the city, to the sea. The site has an interesting history that goes back to Roman times, later housing a convent, and then a lepers hospital. Today it is a squatted social and cultural centre.


We arrive just in time for a simple meal in the garden, and the start of a range of workshops. Our attempt to participate in the outdoor art workshop is aborted after I'm attacked by mosquitoes. Neil, Mauve and I return to the building to try a movement and intimacy workshop. The dance studio is a beautiful room with windows looking out onto the green hills, and an amazing black rubber floor. We are guided through breathing and relaxation meditations in corpse pose. We visualise colour and landscapes inside our bodies and then we are encouraged to move our landscapes around. As we gradually rise from the floor and naturally make contact with the other bodies in the room, a very unstructured contact jam forms. I'm in my element, playing happily. After this contact jam we are guided back to the floor and then there is a series of boring exercises involving walking and running.

Neil and I ducked out of the room and found Mauve. We joined a funny singsong at a table outside... they were singing "We are hippies, we are true hippies," and then there was a very funny song about fruit. The last line was "If you like fine food, eat a mandarin." Mauve suggested that this might have a deeper meaning... maybe to muff-diving? The guitarist said, "The song is innocent, but everything has a double-meaning, depending on your perspective..."

On the stage the band started a sound check. While we waited for the band, Neil started to get cold and we decided to go back in and make the most of that rubber floor. A few folks were sitting in a circle talking, but most of the floor was free. So just the two of us danced, surfing across bellies and rolling over backs, ending in a soft, tired heap on the floor.

When we were leaving, the band were in full swing. We were in a hurry to get back to the city for dinner and the final night of Drag the Blues. Still we joined the dancing throng for a song or two. Indoors or out, in the streets or parks, we have praised the earth with our dancing feet every step of the way... like true hippies. Although we are all scattered again, the sunshine of these new friendships is still keeping me warm.

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Photo: lunch at CanMasdeu, by Neil Morbey, 2017/10.

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