I spent the past weekend in NYC and it felt like a little slice of heaven, with plenty of mini joyful adventures, some dancing, some cocktails and rooftop terrace dining, and time spent with old friends and new friends.
I have always loved the Pierre Teilhard de Chardin quote: “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” This weekend’s road-trip was definitely on joy overload, and filled with laughter.
I laughed myself silly over the weekend, to the point of crying with my stomach aching. I love that!
Serendipitous Joyful Adventure Trip
I made the decision to travel to New York City at the last minute when a friend of mine from overseas informed me that he’d be around for a few days. I wanted to spend time with my friend, who is also a lindy hopper.
I reached out to a handful of friends until I found a place to stay. And I decided to drive down for Saturday night’s swing dance at St. Jean Baptiste Church in Manhattan.
The church hall located in the basement had high ceilings and gorgeous hardwood floors, loved and coveted by dancers. The band Svetlana and the Delancy Five were playing, and another friend of mine was DJing in between band sets.
The crowd included a number of regulars, and some dancers who were in their 70s or 80s who could still cut a mean rug. I danced with a man named “Ice” who had to be 70+ and who was dapper, with a sharp gray suit and green accents, including shiny green leather shoes.
The crowd was in fact older than at most dances I’ve been too over the years, since a college-age crowd often comes to dances, and the rest of us tend to be in our 30s and 40s. It was relaxing and nice to dance with older dancers who might’ve had a more limited range of movement, but still had a strong sense of rhythm. These were good dancers!
My friend, on the other hand, is a talented dancer who surprises you with every 8-count. It’s kind of like riding a carnival ride. You never know what’ll happen next!
The whole evening, from the gentler slower dancers to the fun rollercoaster dances to the live music and the spirit in the hall was just full of joy for me. I was so full of joy that it was spilling over. Dancing does that for me!
A few of us went out for sushi afterwards, and I learned more about the history of lindy hop from my friend, who’s been on the scene since the revival of the dance in the 1980s (I started dancing lindy hop in 1998).
Lindy hop is a special dance, that originated within the African-American community in the ballrooms of Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s. It’s the grand-daddy of all swing dances, an antecedent to West Coast Swing, jitterbug, East Coast Swing, etc.
Friends of mine were instrumental in reviving it after the dance had been “dormant” for years, including recruiting some of the original lindy hoppers, most famously Frankie Manning, to teach.
I am thankful to them because without their lead, I would never had had the chance to learn this dance, which has become such a big part of my life. Lindy hoppers are one of my global communities too. Just about anywhere I travel around the world, I can stay with dancers and/or go to dances.
Lindy hoppers always welcome their kind! We’re a friendly sub-culture, always very welcoming to other dancers.
Sunday Joyful Adventures!
On Sunday, I camped out at a sweet vegetarian cafe called ‘snice in Chelsea to get some work done. Lunch was a vegan dish called “Thanksgiving leftovers” which included Tofurky (“fake” turkey slices made of tofu), cranberry drizzle, baked sweet potato slices, roasted brussel sprouts and greens.
That, and a vegan whoopie-pie style dessert: chocolate cookies with peanut butter filling. Outrageously delicious!
My visiting friend met up with me at the cafe at around 4, and then we wandered around Chelsea looking for somewhere to gt a drink and a bite to eat. We settled on an Italian restaurant with a rooftop terrace, since it was a lovely fall afternoon.
Since we were dining early, we had the terrace to ourselves for most of the time. We spent a few hours there, sharing stories.
Mostly, we laughed. And laughed and laughed and laughed. I sipped a cocktail made with fig vodka and ginger.
When we finished up, it was getting dark. I’d originally planned to meet another friend to go out dancing to Brazilian music, but she ended up being too tired to head out, so I offered to give my friend a ride back to Harlem. We picked out another bar along the way too since my evening was now free.
It was one of those days when you don’t really want it to end. I wanted to just keep hanging out and laughing and sharing stories.
It was also one of the most uproariously hilarious days I’d spent with anyone in a while. My stomach hurt from laughing so much, and I’d had to wipe away tears (of joy and laughter!).
That’s what I call a successful day in the city. Or anywhere really; as my friend pointed out it’s not the location that matters as much as the company. And I was in divine company.
A Slice of Joyful Adventure Heaven
For me, “heaven on earth” is joy and laughter. It’s when we connect deeply with someone, or when we don’t want our time with them to end.
It’s sharing and connecting and enjoying new experiences together. My weekend in New York City was a slice of heaven.
I love the city too, and love exploring. I even love driving in NYC, which many people seem to fear or not like. I am not intimidated by it in the least.
It was a good reminder that I need to drive down to the big city more often, for dancing, seeing friends, and having random joyful adventures. There is no place like New York City, that’s for sure!
I am thankful for a beautiful weekend and for all the joy. Share your latest joyful adventures with us here!