The Waining Days Of Covid: A personal experience of philadelphia as it tries to refind itself on the tailend of covid
The night started. I Awake from a late afternoon nap drenched in sweat and the realization that the nap did nothing. Clothes, hat and one bus ride later; I reach The grape Room. I arrive mid song as an older musician, whose face is obscured by the back light, jams away. A table for six opens, I settle it as my home base for the night.
Grape Room; a manifestation of Manayunk’s energy, vibe and character, fused with an eclectic lineup of Philadelphia’s, immense but oftentimes unseen, pool of musical talent. Inside-drinking drinking is available but the real show, especially on these nice days, is on the outside. A six by six port in the wall allows outside viewers the voyeuristic experience of watching an artist jam on a stage perfectly sized for Grape Room’s intimate atmosphere. The locals… are locals angry proud, territorial and nice; at the same time not local at all. Beatniks from Allentown, rubberneckers from New York, the just graduated from Temple and Drexel with the occasional U-Penn snob, socialists, communists and the politically incorrect all mingle here on this Friday night.
A six by six port in the wall allows outside viewers the voyeuristic experience of watching an artist jam on a stage perfectly sized for Grape Room’s intimate atmosphere.
The acts are acoustic bands and singers soloists. They are a bit rusty from covid, but passionate and good. I try to meet each one of them after their set, but with drinking and chatting and having a genuinely good time I start to lose track. Who gave me what instagram, whose phone number I got, who is in a legal battle with the folks at facebook(joking). I order a couple city wides as side dish to the conversations I’m having. A cool breeze, partnered with the smell of the local gastro scene, cigarettes and booze; a smell I didn’t know I missed.
At around midnight I head home after a few over the top actions… you just had to be there. I walk home, the glow of the night a cape in the wind billowing at my back.
A chill day. I wake at noon. Workout. Complete some work. Try staying hydrated. The hardest challenge: no FOMO (Fear of Missing out). If FOMO hits and I go out, Sunday will be spoiled.
Dance Medicine Philadelphia: a drugs free motion event. An unexpected and inexplicable blast of heat saps my energy; red bull as medicine. I take a bus into Germantown-ish area. Walk for 15 minutes. Cut a corner into a park. A blond man straight out of a hippie movie sits behind a table. He asks if I’m here for the event. I agree and give my name. Directed to a clearing near a church, I see a family walking in front of me. Are they going to the same place… its supposed to be drug free, but I’m 100% sure that wont be the case. I will find out later that it was in fact, at least mostly, drug free. I didn’t take a census but I’m pretty sure this is the most wholesome live music event I’ve ever attended.
I didn’t take a census but I’m pretty sure this is the most wholesome live music event I’ve ever attended.
Phase One: an hour of yoga lead by @el_rasaq where he gets all the gigles out about motion and movement and restrictions of dance. I am informed, after I snap a few, that photography is frowned upon. I stow the camera and watch until the yoga ends.
Lead by dj Nah Mean who whips us all into a frenzy. Limber, energized and ready everyone moves through space; listening to, but not controlled by the music. Freedom of dance freedom of motion. Freeing thought and energy. Ive forgotten how much movement and dance is part of my therapy. In motion I’m more connected with now than meditation has ever gotten me. I move more freely, surrounded by strangers, than I had in the previous year alone. Anger that festered inside of me found panacea in undulation. Some Smooth others jagged, rhythmic, off tempo, Animalistic, normal, movement in the still . Before I know it I’m not just affected by the energy but also creating it. We are all connected by the rhythmic humming of our leader DJ and the earth we dance upon. Gravity loosens, we head to the moon, a quick detour in heaven. Time and space, like a word said too many times, loses value. Our natural bodies sit, stand, dance and wait for our return.
Anger that festered inside of me found panacea in undulation.
Inhale. Air hits my lungs for the first time. Its time to go. Time to say goodbye. A somber event, like leaving family or old friends. I hug people whose name I don’t know. Then I head out; My weekend complete.
I highly recommend checking out GrapeRoom. Located in the island town of Manayunk, just far enough from Philadelphia proper, to have its own unique yet still very much Philly vibe.
I also highly recommend trying out Dance Medicine Philadelphia and associated events. not only keeping Philly weird but blazing a new and interesting path for those of us who need movement therapy.
Both of them are worth supporting and can definitely use your patronage.
places gone to and limited selection of artists:
1. Grape Room Friday night for open mic Grape Room (https://www.instagram.com/thegraperoom/)
Artists: Fiona McHugh (https://www.instagram.com/fionamchughmusic/)
2. Dance Medicine Philadelphia (https://www.facebook.com/DanceMedicinePhilly)
Artists: dj Nah Mean? (https://www.facebook.com/nahmeanbro/)
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