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Sep. 17th, 2009 @ 08:38 am "La nuit dernière un DJ m'a sauvé la vie" or The Night A DJ Saved My Life in Paris


Joanna is playing James Brown.

I tell her it makes me homesick for New York. She passes me a bowl of olives sprinkeled with parmesean and a glass of wine that she has made herself. It is white with a preche. Peche is a red cream sauce that makes it sweet like dessert. They call it Kir. I could sit outside and people watch. But after lunch with Trista, I realize how hungry I am for human interation. It makes Paris much more fun. “Say it Loud, I'm Black & I'm proud!” I sing along. The Kir has already hit me, so I know I can't stand more than 1 glass. But its just right. It makes me feel pretty and Parisian.

Joanna smiles – “I'll be right back” before she runs back from the bouncer a Black man dressed in all black, so its safe to presume – he's the bouncer. “I am now the DJ” she exclaims. Before she runs toward the DJ booth. Away from my Kir blur. I am sad. We were beginning to talk and she supplied me with some bomb olives. But then she plays Issac Hayes “Shaft” and all is forgiven. I snap my fingers loudly and laugh at the off beat couple nearby.
The fellas that take her place call me “Mademoiselle.” Then cuddle with each other before laughing hysterically. I don't know if its a frat joke gone awry but I pop away at the olives and smile graciously. They called me “Mademoiselle.” Hell. I'm good with that. Besides, Joanna just played “I'm Still in Love” and I yell for Joanna in approval. I don't know how to say “Good Shit” in French – but I jump up and dance and she gets the point. Just then, the bartender strikes a Saturday Night Fever disco pose before bringing me another bowl of olives.

This is the only city that I would ever appreciate the acoustic version of Britney Spears' “Womanizer”. I think its Lily Allen. I like it very much. I sing along, almost angry that I know the words – but more angry because I've never heard this soulful version. I like it. I promise myself to look it up on iTunes tomorrow.

Just then – Joanna disappoints me. She starts rocking all these versions of musAX. Blahh. Like elevator music meets electro! Weird. After the third song – I think maybe I should bar hop – isn't that what the kids do these days? Or go outside and get some air. But then Bartender #1 starts screaming loudly over the even louder bad music in French. And then there a smell that permeates the small lounge. It smells like burnt hair. I peek around the bar corner and realize the screams from Bar Dude and the smell are both a result of some blonde chick's hair catching on fire. They wet her down. And for the next 10 minutes she fluffs and pats her mane in an adjacent mirror. The smell of burnt soaks the air. Her friends check her out from the corner of their eyes as she tugs at her assaulted locks. Funny enough. Everything goes back to normal. No big dude from the door to check on the flames. The music hasn't stopped. And if anything – the laughter only gets more rowdy as patrons reinact the frenzy. They are too French to be bothered.

Moments later, full on disco is plated and a brunette jumps off her barstool and sways nonstop. I am officially stupedified. I couldn't make myself move if I wanted to! And I try. I try very hard. But no dice. I become a beligrent tourist. Bad music is unacceptable during my Paris trip. Word. “I've got some magic girl, do you wanna see/if you're a nasty girl come have sex with me” is Joanna's song reply to my “WHAT THE HELL?” stance. The words trip me out. Literally. I'm nervous. I hope I didn't do this part wrong. I just want a song – not a French lesbian affair. And its a house beat – entirely too seductive for my own good. So I swing my hips in the opposite direction. Appreciative of the song change. Befuddled by what it all means. But still, quite thirsty. Bar Dude gets me some tap water – but grabs the ice with his hands – and I try not to let my mouth drop totally open. That would be rude...In the same motion – he grabs to drum sticks and begins drumming on the cymbal styled light fixtures above my head. I am less shocked about this than the ice fishing he did with them nasty hands.

At the stroke of Midnight, 10 minutes til to be exact, all of the bar stools are ransacked. And those of us that once perched serenely at the bar are forced to shift from foot to foot nervously. Especially me. Without the chair – my trip to the lounge looks to be shorter than planned. Art, food, music and sex – it's so much like New York. And “Suavemente” plzys. The Bar Dude starts smacking on the cymbals and a woman with long hair swirs herself around, her balloon dress a cloud of color. That's when Bar Dude turns on the disco lights and starts to point his fog machine at anyone near the bar. The French language curves around their tongues, I am in love with this sound. This spirit. But it is lonely too. The dancing in a circle. The flick of my hair. My new black dress firm against my breastplate. I can feel my soul stirring. The parts that always confuse itself for a heart. For love. For security. For serenity. I am tea leaves floating to the bottom of a cup. Boiled and boiled over again. Filtering into this space. I am moving like liquid. My bones are creaking with every step – but I am alive. It becomes that simple.

That utterly foolish feeling that births fear into us at a young age, the one that makes us regret our skin and hair and teeth and eyes and size... The one that seldom leaves us at peace, even in our older age. It is that simple. This pulse is perfect. We are perfect. In all our flaws. And insecurities. And shortcomings. We deserved to be loved. Just as we are. We deserve to love others. To learn to grow in our comprimising. To become a better person. The idea of changing who I am – even the most worrisome parts – becomes the most baffling idea I've ever had.
“Oye Como Ve” begins to play, the house version, and everything settles like it should. Who would've known, Joanna, a French bartender turned DJ could save a Black girl's life in Paris.
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my grandmother...
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Date:September 17th, 2009 02:19 pm (UTC)
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God, I LOVE DJ stories.