Dancing with the Peruvian elderly


RUNNING away to Peru may sound romantic but the truth is that if you’re trying to go there to escape your inward shit you may find yourself having to confront these issues in more extreme forms.

I talk of course about anxiety and taking on the blame for what’s going on in the world around me.

I left a relationship six months ago in which I was unhappy, and I was unhappy mainly because I was prisoner of my own anxiety – unable to differentiate blame and fairness and therefore unable to express myself without feeling I was doing something wrong.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you may have noticed a sudden change in my written voice in the last week. I fell into a dark patch in Peru, when these feelings of anxiety remerged. What’s shocked me is that I can’t quite explain why I fell in this mood except that it was a combination of stresses that built up into overload.

The more I tried to pretend things were okay, the more I put myself under this pressure, the worse I was in my mind. It was like jumping out of my skin, and I was beginning to feel crazy, in a country far from home. The worst thing is that this has until this morning caused me to question who I am. It felt like nobody around me could understand this intensity, but I couldn’t either.

Last night I wanted to sulk in my room but my new friends came round to play Bullshit (cards involving lies and deception) and eat street pizza, drink beer and listen to music. I played but my heart wasn’t in it for a while, and I was sculling a beer so I could hurry up and make my excuses to leave.Someone suggested the loser of the game jump into the pool and I thought self-sabotage of the game and a swim would be the fastest way to get out of there. I jumped in the pool and I floated underneath the water for a little while. And it felt so fucking good, and it shocked me, this feeling, fighting against that tension that had been irrationally building up within. I left the pool to the sounds of other people laughing, and I went into my room to brood. And it occurred to me that such behaviour was the reason everyone around me think I’m a bit of a weirdo sometimes.

group of guys.jpg
Having a good time at the bar between dances. 

I changed my clothes but didn’t put on any underwear – not out of sexiness but more because I’d run out of clean ones – and I left the room to keep playing. I was finally allowed to choose the music, and I chose Tash Sultana, and San Cisco, and Band of Frequencies, and Gang of Youths, and I was in an ecstasy because this was music I loved before – when I was at home and in control of my feelings – and it still sounded the same. It still sounded relevant.


I have a friend called Ingibjorg who lives in Iceland. She is one of my group of online friends I call ‘the side shovels’. She said something the other day that meant a lot.

“Intense people are interesting people, passionate people, people who shine through the greyishness of every day,” she said to all of the side shovels.


I feel intense people are touched by madness. They have felt something powerful and creative and secret in that madness, and through some quick snap or release they have come out the other side to share those emotions with the world around them.




A bunch of senior Peruvians were having a dance party at the hotel next door, so we decided to check it out. And we did. We bought more beer at the bar and slowly a few of us ended up being on the dance floor with these elderly ladies.

You know the stereotype of the drunken Asian tourist making a fool of themselves on the dance floor? This was me last night.

Except I was a terrible white dancer surrounded by Latinas.

There I was dancing with no shoes or any underwear on and all I knew about these dances were what I could copy from my partners – half my height. I danced with a mask on with a group of elderly women who were having the time of their lives – and so was I.

I copied these dances and the ladies on the sidelines helped show me the motions, telling me how to spin around when I needed to.

Dancing is its own language and what I needed was a release – and this was the release. I was myself, I was me, I was shining, and I was making people happy.

I’m out of that madness, I hope, knowing that I haven’t changed, that I’m still the same person. We fuck up sometimes and can’t help how we feel. And I know I’m a dancer even if I’m out of the rhythm of everybody else.


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