Today, hundreds of people assembled in Salem for an almost unheard-of happening in Oregon's capital city: to do something creative, semi-spontaneous, and fun. We danced to "Singing in the Rain." Ironically, it was a nice day.
As a blogger, I have a duty to disclose the untold story of this event. You won't find this in the Statesman Journal, which is going to do the usual mainstream media thing -- reporting news in an unbiased, objective, big-picture fashion.
So if you want to see professionally taken photos of people taking part in "Singing in the Rain," which was wonderfully organized by ace S-J fashionista reporter K. Williams Brown and nicely choreographed by American Ballet Academy's Annie Joslin, head over to Mainstream Media Land (video of the dancing still to come.)
But if you want a personal, subjective, focused look at the event, this post is for you -- the person, subjectivity, and focus naturally being on ME. (Hey, this is a blog. What else would you expect?)
I practiced a lot for "Singing in the Rain." Not only did I watch the Joslin/Brown instructional video several times, I even wrote down the basic moves in a 1-8 sequence. Last Monday I went to the Clockworks Cafe for some training from Joslin, which was attended by a pleasingly diverse group of people.
However, it was disturbing to find myself learning the dance beside a five year old girl who clearly thought she was way superior to me just because (1) she was wearing sneakers with lights that lit up when her feet moved, and (2) knew the moves a lot better than I did.
Even so, we became close, bridging the 58 year gap between us, mostly through me bumping into her with distressing regularity as I screwed up my steps.
The rest of the week, I practiced for Saturday's "Singing in the Rain" event. Not so much the dance moves, but how I was going to maneuver myself into a good position for the video that K. Williams Brown told us about at the dance practice.
Anticipating that it could possibly go viral on You Tube, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how to get myself noticed in the video without looking like a geezer jerk who squeezed into the front row of dancers even though he couldn't really do the moves all that well and lacked young-kid cuteness.
My plan: to wear something colorful; to place myself in the second row, or thereabouts; and to stand behind short dance-savvy children who, surely, would be in the front row.
The plan didn't exactly go awry.
But so far, based on the still photographic mainstream media recording of the event, it didn't go as well as I wanted.
Here's what happened, courtesy of the Statesman Journal photography department, which I'm assuming allows its images to be shared under a Creative Commons license if I were to read the fine print on its web site, which, as a rogue independent blogger, naturally I'm not going to do.
My first mistake was standing way over on the left side of this photo. (I'm the tie-dyed sweatshirt gray-haired guy about three rows from the front.) I was perilously close to the sloping gutter of Chemeketa Street, which didn't help with my dance style. Camera angles also were going to be a problem.
Nonetheless, carefully cropping this photo results in a focus on...ME!
Looking good, dude. Right out of the '60s -- both the decade and the Social Security eligible age. Sadly, another S-J photo failed to capture a clear closer-up view of my "Singing in the Rain" hipness.
This is a great shot of my tie-dyed left arm (center right in the photo, just above the head of the cute pink-clad kid).
But my face is almost totally obscured, owing to two serious miscalculations on my part: I'd figured that the little kids in the front row would be by themselves, not accompanied by their mothers; and I assumed that photographs would be taken directly from the front, not the side.
So even though I'd carried out my plan and positioned myself behind short kids in the front row, a rather tall adult woman interposed herself between me and the camera angle. Curses! I still went ahead and cropped the photo for my self-centered satisfaction.
Looks like I'm patting Mom on her head. Though now that I look at the photo more closely, it seems that another bare armed person also was between me and photographic fame. So double-curses!
Maybe there's a quasi-Buddhist lesson here: my most distinct appearance in a Statesman Journal photograph came when I wasn't trying at all to stand out. After "Singing in the Rain" was over, and most people had left the area, break dancers who'd been featured in the event stayed and showed off their stuff on the stage.
There I am, tied-dyed me, watching them with more than a little wide-eyed amazement. Great dancing and athleticism.
Nice watching posture, Brian. Relaxed, calm, appreciative.
l'm looking forward to seeing the video of "Singing in the Rain." I was concentrating so much on doing the dance moves semi-correctly, I couldn't watch what was happening on the stage. If I'm visible in the video, great.
If not? Well, it should be obvious from this blog post that I don't look upon the world as being All About Me. Just largely.
[Late night update: Statesman Journal web site now has a video up of "Singing in the Rain," a.k.a We Love Salem. Whew! I'm brightly visible, more or less, on the left side from 14 seconds to 32 seconds, after which Debra Seeck and partner do their thing. My wife and I have taken dance lessons from Debra. Nice job, D.]
[Even later update: Checking to see whether the corporate masters of the Statesman Journal would permit the Singing in the Rain video to be on You Tube, rather than just on the S-J web site, I found a video of the Salem Cypher Breakdancing Group doing their thing after performing at the event. Best of all, the camera faces tie-dyed ME! After I walk up after the first few seconds. Have a look. These guys are great.]