I used to hate dancing. I have 40 left feet and I have moves like Jagger’s grandmother. The most that I can do is bob my head and raise my pointer finger to the roof — awkwardly. Last year in Barcelona, one of my friends took me to a Salsa party. His teacher asked me to dance, one of his classmates asked me to dance, but I stayed glued to my seat. I regret it to this day.
Well things changed when I went to Ho Chi Minh City for work last year. On our first night, one of our companions booked a Vespa Food Tour. We were grouped with 3 other people: an older gentleman (I think he’s German, I’m not sure), a Vietnamese dude who’s come home from being away for so long, and a girl from Hong Kong with tattoo sleeves and the perfect cat eye liner. During the tour, I managed to become friends with the girl from Hong Kong. Her name’s Wolf. The German dude gave us a tobacco each so we smoked that the entire night. She taught me how to smoke a proper cigar. She also convinced me to hang out after the tour. So we did.
Apparently roof top bar parties were a huge thing in HCMC at that time. So we went to a really popular one — the one with a MANGO event going on. While people were swagged up and dressed to impress (or hardly dressed at all), we were in our shirts and shorts. Wolf took off her jacket so at least she was wearing a tank top. I just folded my shorts 2 more cuffs so it was super short. We blended in perfectly.
She told me about herself. She even told me really personal things. Like the guy she slept with the night before who she sleeps with everytime she’s in HCMC. How high she got that same night. Who she buys her pot from in the city – he delivers to her hotel. She bought us the first rounds. I bought the second. And many rounds later, we were drunk, and talking about all of the stupid boys we’ve fallen in love with.
She wasn’t shy. She spotted a cute guy and decided to buy him a drink. Two drinks. She disappeared for a few minutes to talk to the dude then came back declaring him to be cute but kind of dumb. “All brawn, no brain,” she said. Then a music she liked started to play. And she danced. The way she danced, you can’t help but just watch. She was by no means a great dancer. She was all arms and head. But she didn’t care. She had her eyes closed and she was singing along to the song — but only to the parts she knew. And she laughed. She was laughing the entire time. She wasn’t laughing coz she thought she looked funny. I guess she laughed because she was just having such a great time and she didn’t care about anything else.
I wanted to join in on the fun. I wanted to be part of that private party she was having in her head in the middle of all the people we didn’t know. “C’mon Kax. Stop giving a fuck.” I remember she told me when she saw me nervously swaying my hips to the music and looking around to check if there were people making fun of my awkwardness (there wasn’t). I laughed nervously at that. There are a lot of things I don’t care about, but looking like a train wreck while dancing wasn’t one of it. She told me to get out of my head. So I did. And went into hers — where it was more fun and where other people didn’t matter.
That night was the first time I danced in a club and actually liked it (not even caring that the music playing gave me a migraine). We ordered more beers and shots. The drinks were expensive but we stopped counting. We ran out of cash and it was time to go home.
She wasn’t on Facebook. She told me. So she gave me her number instead. She flew back to HK the day after and I went to work. The last time I was in HK I wanted to get in touch with her to see if she wanted to get a drink. I lost her number though. But out of all the people I’ve met during my travels, she was my favourite. She taught me to be more comfortable and confident. She taught me to not give a fuck and just have fun. And somehow, she taught me to just go out and give things a go.
I love dancing now. I still can’t dance for shit but I’ve stopped caring. If the music is good, I’ll dance to it. If I need to get out of my head, I’ll dance it off. I probably still look like I need some oiling in my joints but now I’ll dance anywhere. In the club. In grocery aisles and parking lots too. And when I start feeling stupid, I’ll just remember Wolf and how it was fun to be in her head for a while.