far too much writing, far too many photos

Two nights ago, between 10:30 and 11, during one of the evening’s phone calls, I became aware of strange sounds out in the street. Complicated, percussive, densely rhythmic. Noise that went on for a while before I noticed it with full awareness. Odd, propulsive sounds, reminiscent of flamenco’s combination of hand clapping and staccato footwork, but not exactly that. Going on for a couple of minutes, followed by applause, starting up again for a minute or two, then more applause. Close by, not down the block in la Plaza de Chueca. When I got off the phone, I threw open a window, leaned out to see what was up. What I found: tap dancers. Eight in all -– six males, two females. All dressed in identical black pants and black short-sleeved shirts, holding black bowler hats. A squad of tap dancers just finishing a routine in the middle of the intersection of la Calle de Gravina and la Calle de Pelayo to applause from some bystanders. After which they headed up Gravina toward la Calle de Hortaleza and out of sight. Dancers out on tap patrol.

Last night they struck again, shortly before midnight. Same m.o. — couple of minutes of tap, applause, more tap, more applause -– only in the plaza this time, further away. I wondered what the residents of the apartment buildings that ring the plaza felt about the late-night tap demo. The banners that have been draped from the balcones for the last year are still there, the only difference being a slight intensification of the rhetoric on the largest of them, implicating the city government in the continuing noise assault that rises from the crowds in the plaza most nights of the week. [See journal entry for September 16, 2001, and numerous subsequent entries.] Most of the banners are small, one balcón affairs, reading “Zona Contaminada … Por Ruido –- www.espaciovecinal.org.” The big mother that spans three or four balcones — hanging one floor up, looming stridently along one side of the plaza — reads “PELIGRO: ZONE CONTAMINADA POR RUIDOS -– ‘AYUNTAMIENTO RESPONSABLE’ -– A.VV. Chueca.” [DANGER: ZONE CONTAMINATED BY NOISE -– 'MUNICIPALITY RESPONSIBLE'..."]) I haven’t investigated the behind-the-scenes details of this sitch and have no idea whether the tenants are getting anywhere with their ongoing protest. The banners have been part of the scenery long enough that they’ve become, well, part of the scenery, fading slightly into the overall details of life in the plaza.

Meanwhile, when I left to go to class this morning, I found that the wall across the street from my building has already been completely reclaimed by the poster-pasters (”PRODIGY -– Baby’s Got A Temper -– New Single A La Venta el 1 de Julio”; “Teatro Negro de Praga -– Aspectos de Alicia –- Adaptación de Alicia En El País De Las Maravillas –- Martes 30 de Julio Hasta Viernes 2 de Agosto A Las 23.00 h.” [Black Theater of Prague -– Aspects of Alice -– Adaptation of Alice In Wonderland –- Tuesday, July 30 until Friday, August 2 at 11:00 p.m.]). I don’t know how many of the poster people there are roaming around the area, but in one 24-hour span, a 4-block of a poster advertising a concert by Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings appeared, then disappeared under more posters, then appeared again in a new 4-poster block, then disappeared once more under a new crop of adverts. Like an intense, concentrated demonstration of the cycle of life, Darwin-style. Strange, colorful, entertaining, the teeniest bit unnerving.

There’s a lot happening here in this little life of mine. These last 3+ days have blown by at high velocity. I find myself wanting to spew substantially more about it all than I’ve had the time for and will have to settle for laying out as much of it as I can manage over the weekend when language classes don’t occupy big chunks of the days.


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