by Matthew Crain
Officer, I can explain: just as I rounded that curve, suddenly it was like I was back at Musikfest watching Tahya dance. I admit I was speeding–from excitement–but that swerve increased the tingle that had been tingling since…you’re absolutely correct, officer, and I was just saying the other day how Pennsylvania would be chaos without stop signs…yes, sir: cut the story short.
Imagine three drummers drumming slowly, one tapping a tabla, one thumping a mridangam, one thumbing a frame drum, and The Most Beautiful Boy in the World keeping the beat on a cowbell as onto the stage come a stately procession of 14 priestesses in aqua and crimson and purple and French vanilla gowns. Now imagine a woman in a shimmering copper gown edged in brilliant gold, her red hair blazing, her eyes on fire, an Egyptian necklace displayed across her thorax. The drummers continue their low, slow beat, the priestesses sway like ripe trees, Tahya smiles and gets down into their groove and then gazes at all 600 rapt faces and alacazam! She’s holding what looks like a child’s snowshoe hanging loaded with metal jingles, the grandmama of all tambourines. She shakes it and makes a metallic sound, lightning crashes down our spines, and we have just heard the “Systrum”, an instrument the ancient Egyptians used to worship Hathor, goddess of music, love, and dance. She begins rattling it again, fast like a rattlesnake–and, see, all us music journalists must know shorthand, so I swear that what follows, officer, is verbatim: the rattling stops, and she says all sultry into the microphone, “I hear a drum in my soul’s ear coming from the depth of the stars…I know, my dear, that you’re tired, but come, my dear, this is the way”–cue blushing drummers!–“…my heart is pulsing like waves on the ocean: come, let’s dance the rhythm of this moving world. Dance me to the end of love. Dance me on and on and on and on. Dance me tenderly and dance me very long. Touch me with your naked hand. Touch me with your love–Dance me. Dance me. Dance me to the end of love!” Some intro, huh, officer?
Raqs sharqi (“belly dancing”) is a mystery to me, but I do know confidence when I see it, and every woman on that stage had it, you could see by their smiles that they don’t live their lives second-guessing themselves. They study weekly with Tahya at Northampton Community College. Check out www.tahya.com. I’m a strict empiricist, but, officer, Hathor is real. I felt her.
I saw her under that tent at Volksplatz. (Between you and me, officer, orgies have erupted from a lot less rhythm than Troop Tahya laid down in Bethlehem. And I probably have ear damage from those 2 ululating lesbians behind me.)
As for the climax, well, be on the lookout for a man in a black turban and accompanying himself with 8 finger cymbals a.k.a. The One and Only Omar.
He’d twirl along the edge of the stage jammed with women taking his picture, and, officer, if he’d slipped, they would’ve torn him to pieces. He and Tahya danced an impromptu duet, and, well, maybe Shiva and Shakti doing it really did create the Universe.
So that’s why I ran the stop sign, officer. Are you still going to give me a ticket? You are? Perhaps I wasn’t clear: let me tell it again but this time with different details. You see, I was in kind of a dream, a reverie, and just as I was rounding that curve…