Skip to main content

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.

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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

From seaweed to bananas – Contact Improv in Dublin

The dancers were sitting in a circle when I arrived. A stranger, I was greeted with words of welcome and invited to join the end of a class by Yaeli. We danced as seaweed buffeted by waves, brushed by fish... first anchored on rocks, then taking flight into the water. This seaweed dance was one of my best trio experiences, taking turns with David and Fergus in the roles of weed or wave or fish. A friendly jam followed, including dances with Isabel and Jacob.  When the jam was over, we said goodbye with hugs. I felt great... welcomed to the community, emotionally and physically invigorated. I walked to my bus stop with a smile on my face. Though bus rides are usually tedious and smelly in the damp Dublin winter, I smiled the whole way. I got off and walked the few hundred metres home in the freezing rain. Soon I was home with hot tea, a hot bath, and downy bed – a happy body, drifting into dreams.


Going bananas at the Lab The offer to share dance skills came at a dance community meeti…

Physical poetry – Contact Improv in Madrid

On my first visit to Madrid, I wrote about exploring Lavapies Tabacalera by day – sophisticated art installations in warehouse galleries. On this second visit to Madrid, I discovered the Tabacalera studios by night – a living, breathing art community. Cuban flautist and poet Liz stayed in touch after our chance meeting in Lisbon, and joined me for this contact improvisation adventure. Tabacaleras are former tobacco factories, given over to the arts by many Spanish municipalities. Passing through the unmarked portal into this furnace of creativity, I quickly felt relaxed and at home. Liz said she had never seen anything like it it. To get the dance studio, we traversed a cavernous room of giant murals into a corridor of spectacular street art, past booming reggae and African DJ dens, out into the yard. A few oil drum fires burned, and people gathered around to keep warm, under the gaze of Albert Einstein. If only he could see his two-metre high portrait, spray painted on old wooden ga…

Discoteca Habanera: dances for sale

My Cuban friends Pablo and Vanessa picked me up at my B&B on my fourth night in Cuba. We caught a taxi collectivo to Havana Vieja to meet another friend. Then the four of us walked a few blocks to a dance bar, called Jager Bull.
The interior was minimal white, animated with multicoloured spotlights. Sexy salsa dancers loomed over the room in a huge wall projection. I ordered a round, including virgin Pina Coladas. These were the real thing: coconut milk, fresh pineapple – delicious!

A few dark-skinned guys busted out synchronised dance steps. We had fun copying their hip-hop/ Afro moves. One of them greeted us, introducing himself as Andy. He danced with me a few times – mostly salsa – and taught me a three-count step in another style. The other dancers were not as friendly, but most said yes when I asked for a dance.   
I noticed Jean’s metallic pink shoes first, and then her warm smile. She was slender and tall, her face dark and lined. I sat beside her and said hello. In Frenc…