Theater hangout

Standing in front of me was a gigantic blue gate positioning prominently on a great yellow wall. I made a call to T and I was welcome to one of the most gorgeous safe space of Saigon.

D was standing in the yard, he told me to compose a signature handshake so that we can do some fun things every time we meet.  I chose a very classical one: slapping on the sides, fist cheering and “pshhhh”. We both seemed quite enjoyed.

 Stepping into the house, I could feel an immediate nostalgia burst within. There were walls painted white, with enormous oil color paintings, it had to be the works of her father as a very talented artist, I took a quick guess while observing them. There was a piano neatly positioned at the corner of the room, with three tiny statues of “Chopin”, “Mozart” and “Some-famous-classical-composer-that-I-coincidentally-forgot” on the top of it. In the opposite side of the space was an old vinyl player covered in a fancy glass box. I arrived at the kitchen, where D was sitting brainstorming the names for the house (it was a safe space built by 3-member team and was about to open for locals the following month), M was working on her stuff and Il was cooking vegan dishes. I joined the naming battle.

We had lunch together and continued the naming thing. I came up with “Phù sa”- “Alluvial”, then deliberately misspelled it as”Fuza” in order that the foreigners will not get a tongue-twister pronouncing it. D seemed to be really into it.

We cleaned up and prepared for the “real” theater hangout.

“Get up!” – T said.

“We will do a short warm-up.”

D gathered us in a circle and we did some basic and simple yoga moves. The heat was a little bit intense, I was still having my jacket on, but I was feeling good. After finishing the warm-up, D delegated the moderation to Il, who was then in charge of the remaining parts of the hangout. We started with some mediation, then we went around stared at random people’s eyes to develop mutual connections; and there came the fun <and sweaty> part: we tried to run around the space in the same rhythm, which represented the state of being in harmony of the individuals within a group. We kept running for more than ten minutes and kept “throwing” and “receiving” gratitude in consonant by clapping hands and catching others’ eye contact. I messed up a little bit, but it gradually turned out to be super satisfying, and somewhat even moving to hear the constant and stable beats of hand claps when we were all getting used to the rhythm. Regardless of our differences, in this space, we were there, together, fully exposed, no distinction, no hidden.

We took a short break, sitting in front of the big fan to eliminate the heat out of the sweaty but happy faces. Il brought out two whiteboards and had us to write down our favorite words in our second languages, it did not need to be a meaningful word, it could just be something that is fun to pronounce. I came up with “Impermanence”, “Om” and “Doodlevbloggle”, M chose “Mother Fucker”. We were then asked to create a progress of dance moves based on the feelings we had when we pronounce the words. It was not until I really got to work on it that I realized a beautiful thing: our body has its own language system that connects to our deepest feelings and magically translates them into beautiful and sophisticated movements. In fact, our body does speak, and it speaks the language of our true selves. We came up with a fancy choreography, and for the first time, I had let my body voiced up with honesty. That was the philosophy of dancing – understanding, intertwining with our body and current self.

Il laughed to hard every time we finished our performances, she said it was not she making fun of us, she laughed because we were happy. I wished I could tell her how much I appreciated that.

The hangout ended. I stayed at the place for the rest of the day, chatting and singing, it was so chilled out, I could feel my energy was being charged rapidly that moment.

Before I left, I thanked T for such an awesome time there. Although I postponed some of my tasks that supposed to be done by then, I genuinely treasured the time I had with those wonderful people.

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