Byron Bay. Sunday, 6.55pm
The girl stands, stock still, in front of the stage at the Beach Hotel.
She is about eight or nine years old. People are spinning around her like planets around a dwarf sun, dancing to the funky disco of Lisa Hunt and her band.
The girl is motionless. She is stillness in a blur of movement, the centre of a swirling galaxy. She is transfixed, her eyes glued to the stage where Lisa Hunt struts, movin’ and groovin’ to the funky (and I mean F-U-N-K-Y) sound of her six-piece band of white boys.
Play that funky music, white boy…
Even though most of the people here were probably not born when Wild Cherry had their only hit with that song back in 1976, the bass riff triggers an intergenerational meme in the younger folk on the dancefloor; a meme reinforced at every disco and dance party held since; a meme that reflects the vacuity of modern life, the blissful emptiness of distraction.
For older others, that song brings back memories of when their youth and societal change colluded to make facile lyrics and afro hairstyles seem loaded with significance.
But the band’s funkiness is irresistible and everyone is dancin’ and singin’ and movin’ to the groovin’…
Outside on the footpath, a big bloke in a helmet and leather jacket sweats under an angry sun. He is chatting to a bounce of security guards, who admire his new Harley parked in the gutter.
Across the road, three young women, wearing more tattoo ink than cloth, chatter and skip across the park towards the hotel. An old bloke with grey dreadlocks, hunched shoulders and a battered guitar stumbles towards the beach. As he passes the girls, he stops, turns, takes the cigarette from his mouth and grins.
The women don’t notice him because they’re now huddled together, heads touching, pouting at an iPhone held up at arms length by the middle girl. Later they will see, in the background of their selfie, a leering older dude with smoke dribbling up from his mouth.
Across the park, waves, barely noticed, roll onto the beach as they always have.
The music touches the young girl. It handles her, begins to shape her. She moves, awkwardly, in a clumsy two-step shuffle more often seen when men dance.
The girl notices the two young women dancing beside her. The ecstasy of the music – or maybe just the ecstasy – has created a euphoria in the pair. They beam at each other and dance in that modern way with heads thrust forward, shoulders shaking, arms by their sides.
Immediately, the girl absorbs this style into her own dancing. She is still two-step shuffling but with shaking shoulders and head thrust forward. She smiles.
I’m funking out in every way…
A tall woman swirls by the girl. She dances in a sinewy, almost Indian way, with arms and hips swaying like smoke on a zephyr. This too the girl absorbs, and immediately incorporates this hippy weaving with the shaking shoulders and thrusting head. The two-step has nearly disappeared. The girl can dance now.
The young absorb what they see in their elders. It becomes who they are.
Today this girl becomes a dancer. Tomorrow, she will see photoshopped models, and stick a finger down her throat. She’ll hear the lies that pose as government and lie to her children. She’ll work hard and be a slave to empty things. She will sit in a nursing home, remember her first dance, and wonder where her life went.
The elders have deserted her, franchising their responsibility to corporations who tell her the good times are endless, and she can play that funky music till she dies.
Love it, S – as usual
Phew – great statement S. Thank you
minutely observed…great read…fabulous ending, thank you
Now that is what I call journalism.