I recently went to a party. Almost everyone there was French. I’ve never been to a big French party before and I had no idea what to expect.
It started off fairly formally – it was in a big salle des fetes (sometimes called a salle polyvalente), the village hall where parties are held, marriages and special events are celebrated. We were welcomed with a glass of wine and canapés. We stood around chatting – for hours… and drinking more wine… for hours… and kissing. Those who arrived later in the evening got lots of kisses from those who had been there early – three kisses each – we were all feeling pretty friendly as the night wore on.
Eventually we were called to sit down for a meal – cue for more wine with each course. It was still quite formal, everyone being polite, behaving well.
Dinner over and the DJ started to play some music, quite sedate at first. Some of the oldies got up and bopped up and down a bit, old ladies swinging their skirts – freed from their day time house coats. House coats are those nylon sleeveless pinafores that ladies wear here in rural France and if I ever talk about buying one you know that I have gone completely native. One old lady was ancient, she was bent over, gnarled and arthritic, but still managed to bop enthusiastically if a bit out of time to Bob Marley.
When the music got a bit more disco beat style – remixed versions of well-known 80s hits… a few more people got up, the oldies stuck on the dance floor, there was a bit of line dancing going on. I started to feel a bit left out – line dancing?!
I really love 80s music. I always wanted to be a dancer – not a ballerina but a disco dancer. I love watching “Dirty Dancing” and “Saturday Night Fever” and used to spend hours jogging on the spot trying to emulate “ Flash Dance “ until I found out it wasn’t really Jennifer Beals doing it but a stand in man with stamina! I practice on my Wii dance mat (come on, I’m in the middle of the countryside here – give me a break!) and dance in the kitchen when I’m on my own.
I had a Kenyan friend who was a disco dancing champion – she was absolutely brilliant. Everywhere we went she would take over the dance floor, people would form circles round her and watch in awe as she performed effortless back flips and splits – I so wanted to be able to do that but I never could. Once we were in a club in London and she was doing her thing… I stood on the side lines bobbing up and down and swinging my arms a bit, she was spinning round on her back on the floor. When she got up her white shirt was covered in fag ash and beer stains – it was the end of a dream for me…
Anyway, back to France and the French party. Everyone danced, I mean everyone. There was line dancing, rock and roll, free style, body pop and some weird moves that I won’t go into too much in case this gets seen and I never get invited to a party ever again. However the very tall man in the embroidered cowboy boots and Matrix style leather coat (done up) who danced to “Don’t you wish your girfriend was a Freak like me” – is a sight I will never forget.
An old man dragged me onto the dance floor to dance to “Chica Boom Boom ” (I think that was what it was called!) then on came Gangnam Style and wow! Everyone got up and did the dance – oldies, young ‘uns, men and women – all doing the pony across the floor in the salle des fetes. You could have knocked me down with a feather – there were plenty available as table decorations but luckily for me no one thought to do it.
Turns out that French people love to dance and then some. I was up and boogieing on down all night. My dream of being a disco dancing champion may just have been woken up… watch this space…
PS: if you’re wondering what the bubble says: “Personne ne laisse pas bébé dans le coin” it’s “Nobody leaves Baby in the corner” – Dirty Dancing!