Day 27: Planting 'Seed of Swing'
The dance floors was flexing under the feet of the swing crowd. Photos: Isaac Stone Simonelli
Daily Updates are not edited and function more as daily journal entries – so if the plot seems to be all over the place or missing entirely and the tenses changes faster than a kaleidoscope, well, that's just the way it is.
LINDY is resolute in the morning. Her mind has been made up, and though she lets me have a few cuddles and steal a few kisses, she's just playing along – a wall has been built.
Though I have no plans until the Bangkok Swing Social at 8:30 tonight, I do have a great deal of writing to do, so I'm happy to get an early start to the day as well.
Swooning, I steal a puppy-love kiss from her and then head to the door, looking like a school kid in my bright red shorts and matching backpack.
I can't get out.
It's a funky door; I need to pull it all the way closed then fiddle with the lock a bit.
Having had my exit thoroughly ruined, I return for one more kiss, which Lindy dutifully doles out.
The day slips by with the die making inconsequential decisions about food and coffee as I prepare for the dance.
Back in my suspenders, with my white dress shirt still smelling like cigarettes and Climax nightclub, I hesitate to put on my bow tie. It's a perfect moment to roll for, as it really doesn't matter either way. However, as part of the learning process, I'm miss all sorts of opportunities to let the die make the decision. I'm getting better, of course, but in this particular moment I pitch like a boat at sea trying to the decision.
I send a picture to Lindy, who gives the bow tie a thumbs up.
On the street of Bangkok, with a fresh can of Axe body spray in hand, I undo a few buttons on my shirt and do my best to cover up the mix of my own smell, which isn't so sweet, and that of the shirt.
The stairs up to the Hop are lined with a variety of plants for the social tonight – organized for swing dancer and enthusiastic Korean sculptor – for the “love our plants” themed event, which includes local swing band Dixielogy playing live.
Upstairs, the place is like a communal playhouse. The mismatched wooden floorboards are heavily worn and discolored, random pictures and objects hang from the boldly painted walls below the unfinished ceiling. It's funky and very cool.
With a whiskey in hand, I chat with a Japanese guy living in Bangkok who is here for the first time, then find my way to a corner seat and just watch people, making eye contact and smiling, but not really engaging anyone.
After the beginner's lesson, the crowd starts to build and the place bursts into life. A number of people are in costume, while many more are dressed normally. The floorboards flex under the stomping weight of the downbeats.
In no time at all, my shirt is soaked through and I'm on my second bottle of water.
The music stops and everyone is called on to take a seat on the dance floor: the show is about to start.
Young introduces her sculpture. Photo: Isaac Stone Simonelli
It's a semi-imprompt show with a smattering of facts about why plants are important. We're introduced to all the plants that are being given away, one by one.
Though Oat, the Korean girls partner and an extraordinary dancer, doesn't even know the names of all the plants, his charisma and charming, boyish smile keeps the crowd engaged as he stumbles through introducing each of the plants.
The second plant brought out is edible, which leads the girl holding it to start nibbling on the leaves and sharing her foliage with the rest of those standing in front of the seated crowd.
The next plant is a thin two-meter tall tree being carried by a guy who looks like the Thai version of Clark Kent. He drops the plant down below his belt, letting the limp tree dangle parallel to the floor, which gets a huge laugh from the crowd.
“Not edible,” shouts someone in the crowd.
The dick jokes continue off and on throughout the rest of the presentation.
I'm momentarily introduced.
Still seated, I confirm that I'll take a plant all the way up to Chiang Mai with me and plant it there in honor of the swing club.
Before the dancing got started, Oat and I were chatting about it, and he seemed so thrilled with the idea that I of course said I would. Though I have no idea how I'll attach the plant to the bike.
The Korean woman, Young, then presents an acid-tripping sculpture that is part of a set that she calls “Dancing Plants”.
Lastly, a pair of women with thin 1920s hairbands and matching outfits go into a complicated, vintage flapper dance routine – wide-eyed facial expressions and butt-bumping jokes included.
Dancing resumes. I grab a tall American girl with thick wavy brown hair and shinning eyes. She's teaching in Bangkok and pretty new to swing. We keep the dance basic, trying not to impale anyone with her three-inch heels. We do cause a little damage, but seem to avoid drawing blood.
“Thank you for the dance,” I say before reaching out to grab someone else for another round on the dance floor.
My energy is failing me, yet I can't seem to leave. I'm afraid to miss a dance, but compromise by finding my way to a seat.
Young comes by to thank me for offering to take the plant to Chiang Mai, but I miss read her and think she wants to dance, so I pull her onto the dance floor. However, she really doesn't want to dance, so we kind of sway holding hands for a few moments and then sit back down.
She's way to grateful to me for bring the plant to Chiang Mai – now I just have to follow through and post pictures on Instagram, as promised.
The crowd splits into two sides as a dance war starts on the floor. It's straight out of West Side Story. One side surges at the other, everyone doing the same dance move, only to be repelled as their opponents surge back at them with a different set of coordinated dance move.
High on dance and exhausted beyond reason, I say a couple goodbyes and grab a jasmine plant – “Mali”, which also happens to by Lindy's nickname to take to Chiang Mai.
Outside, the air is thick with the heat from the city. I should grab a taxi, but I don't. I decided to hoof it back.
I'm aware of my inebriated stride and sway, which in fact is just physical exhaustion mixed with elation. In this state, I'm sure I look like an easy target to pickpockets.
Though it's past 11pm, a number of open massage parlors with plump, unpleasant looking woman sitting outside them.
The sidewalk becomes crowded with vendors selling T-shirts, souvenirs, dildos, sex pills, shoes and so much more under the bright lights hanging from their stalls.
I break free of the little street-side market, eventually stumbling up the stairs of my hostel and into bed.
Tomorrow will have to be dedicated to errands, but perhaps the die will throw a little fun my way. Before shutting off the lights I write up a list for tomorrow: 1) Hangout with a ladyboy 2) Focus on errands first 3) Bangkok haunted tower to try to get drone footage 4) floating market.
I let the die drop onto the tile floor of the hostel.