Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Once a philistine

A little background first, in my own defence. I've never had a particularly strong affinity for the dance. Friends can testify that, while I can sit through 5 hours of opera, even 20 minutes of ballet can set me to snoring. So last night's events should be judged in this light.

Thursday 22:30. Calle de Ximenes de Exciso in Seville's old Jewish quarter, the Barrio de Santa Cruz. With four other students from don Quijote, I have joined the respectful crowd gathered around the courtyard for what we are promised will be an authentic and moving flamenco performance. The guitar starts off to get things moving, but eventually is supplanted just by the singer and the dancer - once they hit their stride, everything is determined by the interplay between these two. He is seated, white shirt, black pantalones - she is a vision in black and red. Twenty minutes in - the crowd appears mesmerized. I force myself to admire the fancy footwork (and dramatic facial expressions) of the dancer, though my preference is to close my eyes and just listen to the singer.

Suddenly, for no good reason, but with disastrous consequences, a phrase comes into my head that I´d read earlier in the day. One of the discussion threads in Salon.com´s Table Talk online community is devoted to differences between American and British English, and someone (perhaps even myself) had introduced the phrase "up and down like a hoor's knickers" into the discussion. Which led to a certain amount of humorous riffing involving the word "hoor".

To my horror, just as the flamenco performance is clearly building to some kind of internal climax, I find the following phrase has invaded my brain, unbidden, like an earworm. "yer wan' is decked out like a right hoor". Unfortunately, this expression causes me to dissolve into paroxysms of giggling, much to the chagrin of the people I was with. Of course, the more I tried to control the giggles, the worse it got. And the more fatale the expressions of the dancer, the more I kept thinking "yer wan's a right hoor".

Only after five minutes spent in contortions in the bathroom, and by pretending I had had a bad stomach attack, was I able to regain sufficient composure to be allowed to re-enter for the rest of the performance.

So now, for ever, the noble art of flamenco will be inextricably linked in my mind with the expression "a right hoor". I may never live this down. On the other hand, I have a hard time believing that the whole drama of flamenco doesn't involve some kind of knowing wink at the world at large - surely nobody takes themselves that seriously.

2 comments:

Peter Compton said...

Flamenco will never be the same for me. I hope David gains a certain satisfaction from knowing that.

gaelstat said...

I'd have to say "My work here is done". Snerk.