Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Dirty Girl on the Ubahn
No,this isn't another critique of the hygienically challenged kreuzbergians we encounter all too often. it is instead, a retelling of one of the most awesome incidents I have ever witnessed while riding a subway...
We were on way to meet my old boss who just happened to be in Berlin on vacation for a few days. I cant say if they got on the train when we did or not, but the slow reveal of what was happening all began when Claire noticed a girl taping up her shoes. It was raining that evening,as it's done 80% of the time we've been here, and Claire commented "oh, thats smart of her, she's water proofing her shoes".
When I looked over to see what she was talking about, I realized she wasn't waterproofing her shoes, she was taping them up. Then I realized that they were tap shoes. As in tap dancing. Upon further inspection, it turns out the girl was wearing lipstick red harem pants. When she stood up, she took off her acid washed denim jacket to reveal a fully sequined, red tube top... to match the pants of course. Now at this point I'm thinking to myself ok,she's going to tap on the train, I've seen that before, especially living in NYC, but usually on the platform and never on a moving train. This should be interesting, but that's a wholly misleading adjective, and here's why...
To her left, and amazingly unnoticed until know, was her partner. Typical Berlin hipster attire, but just a little more special. The jeans were Riddler green with varying black outlined stars, pointy leather shoes, deep V neck shirt, richie hawtin haircut, etc, you get the picture... But he's standing there with his keyboard, on a keyboard stand (again, the subway is in motion mind you). He introduces himself into the microphone, also amazingly on a mic stand, I didn't quite catch their name, but picked up that they were from Canada, and that the song they were about to play was called dirty girl.
Like the events themselves so far, the song started off a little weird and catches you off guard. The levels were at a respectable level, not too loud to be annoying on a subway,but not too low that you couldn't hear what was going on. The Ubahn doesn't jerk you around like the MTA does (in terms of balance and momentum), so the set up was quite stable and the tap dancer was holding on to the vertical rail for balance. Not genius, but clever enough, and when you get past the kitsch of tap dancing to a euro synth pop song, you realize that she's the rhythm section, and the song was pretty good.
I desperately urged Claire to get the camera out, or better yet, we should be recording video! Though Claires objections were completely Justified that if we filmed them, we would definitely be obliged to tip them, it was a tragic error on both our parts to let such an epic performance go undocumented.
If I ever build a time machine, this would be one thing in life I wish I could o back in change. Especially because of what happened next...
As he finished the verse, the tap dancer joined him to bring in the chorus " I'm in love with a dirty girl... I had sex with a girl..." synths wailing, tapping feet pounding. Then oddly, just the girls voice for half a syllable, then silence. They stared at each other blankly. He fibbled with the key board, she said something to him, and judging by his hand gestures, the keyboard died, right there on the spot! With three quick moves, he had everything folded up and in the corner. The swiftness of his equipment handling told of the many times they've done this, but his actions told of his seriousness to his art. I originally thought they were taking the piss, and this was some weird hipster irony thing, but clearly this was much more than that. As the girl just stood there dumfounded, he was leaning on the wall, facing the corner, mumbling to himself! Did he think this was their big break? Was tonight the night they knew the A&R head from universal would be taking the U8 to Alexanderplatz? Why was tonight so important?
As quickly as it had began, it was all over. I cant say for certain if that's a comment on his dreams, but definitely a comment on my enjoyment of the episode. The train came to the next stop and he bolted out the door with equipment in tow. He got off the train so fast, it almost seemed as if he was leaving the tap dancer behind. Thankfully, not as she followed just a few paces slower than him. Sadly, however, we were left behind with a million questions, and a feeling of complete awe.