A place where dancers sizzle

2010-09-17 00:00

ON the surface, we don’t have much here.

No Woolworths, no choice of which school our children will attend, and although we have four private doctors, the closest hospital facilities for middle- class people are 80 kilometres away. We could go to the local hospital, it’s just that even the locals who have no choice but to go there believe you die from setting foot in there, and not from the ailment for which you were originally admitted.

Our claim to fame on the Internet is having “the highest density of earth-moving equipment in the world”. Yet on the ground, in our town which has no traffic lights, we have a choice of 17 different hair dressing salons. (Take that, Gateway.)

Something else we have that I can bet no other town has, but which every town should seriously invest in, is a drive- through café. It is bliss. Think of all those trips you make to the shops just to pick up some bread or milk. If you are like me you need to add 10 minutes to every journey to unstrap the children, open the car door for them, take them out, understand that they are about to have a tantrum because you have just seriously impeded their independence, put them back in the car seat, strap them in and close the door so they can do the whole procedure themselves from the beginning without your interfering hands. Shop, come back with bread and milk, forget again not to open the car door for them, open the car door, shut it quickly to avoid a meltdown, patiently hold the plastic packet that is digging into your fingers while your child struggles to open the door, nod curtly to the car guard and explain you will attend to his needs once you have got your children into their seats and the circulation back in your hand.

Well none of that anymore with the Excel drive through. Unwind the window: “Hello, milk please,” and on you go. The children don’t even know there are sweets behind that glass that they could whine for.

We used to have art, until the art teacher moved away. We used to have music until the music teacher moved away (or ran away?). We do have a belly-dancing and lap-dancing teacher, but she struggles to find participants as every time concert time comes up all the women disappear. Can you blame them? They all want to belly dance, they just don’t want to perform in front of everyone else’s husbands.

So I was absolutely dumbfounded when I went to a concert at the high school last week. You see, there is no dancing school in our town. How then do you end up with every single pupil in the local high school dancing as though they are in permanent training?

And I am not talking about free-style-do-whatever-you-want-on-stage-just-move dancing. I witnessed rock and roll the moves of which Strictly Come Dancing would be proud. Girls were twirled back and forth, lifted, thrown around and balanced on shoulders. And I mean all the girls. Regardless of shape or size. Boys without their T-shirts, clad in black pants and painted in glitter jived and lifted and gyrated with more enthusiasm than I have seen for any sports match.

Class after class after class of pupils appeared, all of them pulling off these stunning performances. They danced to Ek en Jy. They danced for Jou lyfie. They danced to Ek wil jou hê.

They danced for their partners and their parents and their oumas and oupas and their friends’ parents and all the townsfolk and all the farmers. But most of all, more than dancing for anyone else, they danced for themselves.

They looked hot, they felt hot, they were hot. Tsssss!

This was dancing.

At the interval, I went to speak to Helize. I was confused. “There is no dancing school here, though, is there?” I asked her. I had to make sure. “So how then?” And she told me.

When they wanted to dance, the pupils had approached the local fitness instructor and asked her to help them. She went off to Jo’burg, and went on a course. She came back a dancing choreographer and has been impressing the town with these concerts ever since. And does she get paid? No. She just gets a tip. She does it for the lekkerte.

So that’s what you do when you live in a small town and you don’t have the skills you need to meet your dreams. You make a plan. You import them.

Wow! Tssss!

• Catherine Smetherham is an ex-city dweller who is rediscovering herself and South Africa from a platteland perspective in Strydpoort, North West. Contact her at catherine@holtzhausen.com

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