Budapest Chronicles, Series

Budapest Chronicles: I am an old dog learning new tricks

By Brian Friday Bwesigye

I am lying on the couch at the balcony of our country home. There is soft music playing all around me. It is coming from all corners of the house and compound. From the sky, from the overgrown gardens, from the gate – from everywhere. My wife is the one who is responsible for this. She is the one who set the sound system of our home, and I cannot lie and say that I know how she did it. And I am not complaining. This arrangement takes me to places beyond the world. It is not just the softness of the music, it is also the serenity with which it emerges from everywhere into me, straight to my soul. The way it directly enters my soul and transcends the limits of human imagination.

I am in heaven — this music simply takes me there — in my heavenly trance; I see her walk towards me. She thinks I am not watching her, but the corner of my eye is so effective someone may think I have a pair of eyes at the back of my head. She is wearing leggings and just a sports-bra. She is from working out. She walks towards me. She thinks I am not seeing her. Partly because she knows that her Ruhumuriza likes his music too much he can not think anything else when in the heavenly trance. But I can not fail to see my Nyonyozi when she is shining closer to me. She taps my back, jumps and stands in front of me, with her back facing me. I gently stand up, following her every step and we turn the balcony into a dance-floor – for the two of us – Ruhumuriza and Nyonyozi.

Fantasies of a sweet life of love, music and dance never stop playing in my mind. I was in a club; a famous club for foreigners in Budapest called Morrisons at the beginning of last week. I stood the whole time and could only nod/shake my head to K’naan’s Waving Flag as I kept watch of my friends’ property. I could not do much more. The rest of the music to me was like that noise you hear from a distance when a crowd is dissipating! Nothing orderly, nothing beautiful! The setting of the club does not make matters easier. The lights, the noise, the booze, the smoke, the disorganization and the messy crowd! There is nothing of beauty.

And before someone thinks I have just seen Morrisons, which I am told is a great club, I should divulge that I have also once been compelled by a friend into escorting him to Club Silk in Kampala. Of course Morrisons, I am told by those who have gone to both Morrisons and Silk is much better in everything than Silk, but to me even Silk was the same experience. So, what fun is in clubbing? What fun is in the frenzied jumping up and down to no rhythm and no order that happens in club?

Enter thoughts of dancing to the famous Intore tunes of the Banyarwanda, the dancing to the handclaps and drumbeats of the ekizino of the Bakiga and I see vigor, energy, beauty, order, happiness and excitement. I can see someone point at me questioning my fantasies that are about anything else but a Kizino song in the background. I can understand the finger-pointing at me. The reason I take to the floor with Nyonyozi in my fantasy is because we both can not help it. We can not help the intense feeling that soft music evokes in us. We can not help the heights that music that talks to the soul takes us to. We simply can’t.

So, in our privacy, we do rumba, waltz, salsa, tango, mambo… I could go on and on. When in a communal setting, a celebratory mood with family and other groups, we do the ekizino, isn’t it what it is meant to be? Because only two people surely can’t do the ekizino or runyege alone. It is suited for groups. But the other things we can only do in private. All this is happening in the fantasy. The reality is that I am attending weekly dance classes. Of course not for ekizino. I did the training for ekizino in my early years and I know it by heart, mind and body. I even used to dance for my school at competitions, so kakyitaari, omwemuriko and many more Kiga traditional dancing variations are second nature to me. My mother even took it further and trained us in dancing other African traditional dances as the Karamajong Naleyo [north western Uganda] among others.

But Mother did not teach me how to do rumba, salsa, waltz etc. And I am now a bit old. I was not yet twelve when I was doing the traditional dances, I grew up doing them and they became second nature to me. Now, I am older than two decades and I am attending dance classes. Am I too old to learn? Too dry a stick to be bent? I do not know yet. I have the will as they say, to learn and even when I miss a step or two, I am committed to learn further.

Now, let us talk about the dance classes. The dances we are being trained in are done with dance partners. The Nyonyozi of the fantasy is not attending classes with me. She is just a fantasy. So, how am I learning? This Sunday, I just entered the room, ready to learn, but with no partner. Luckily for me, I found everyone in line, doing the initial stepping drills. I joined. As if they were waiting for me, I was not ten minutes old in the room when the instructor told us to get our dancing partners for the next stage. I saw some people who had come with their partners immediately finding their own and was waiting for fate. That is when, quite naturally, I got paired with my dance partner for the evening.

Her hands were warm. Her smile was sweet. The dancing evening was memorable. And who would not look forward to the next Sunday? I am all eyes!

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