In a small, crowded, noisy bar, on a winter’s night, he’s surrounded by family and friends. There’s a dislike for the setting: Having to shout to be heard at your own table, the inevitable loud or belligerent drunks, the tiny bathroom always occupied. He stays anyway, because the band is partly family too.
Gradually, unknowingly, he starts to tune out of the forced conversations, and even the band’s attempts to be heard. They are good players, he knows, and he likes the music. He identifies with them, and sees them trying to balance the desire to be heard, and yet be savvy enough not to overpower. They have spent many hours on practice for this night.
The occasional tug from his wife brings him back to the table chatter, and, apologetically, he rejoins the shouting. After a time, he slips back into reverie, and notices that no one is up dancing, save for a solitary figure in a dimly lit corner by the window. It is a girl, probably just of drinking age. Not beautiful or showy, dressed in a sweater and jeans. She is holding her glass of beer, has her eyes closed, and is smiling. It’s a slow quiet number that’s playing, and she sways in one spot, her face upraised to the light. Seemingly, she is ignored by everyone but himself. He is drawn to the simplicity and soulfulness of this dancer, and wonders if she came here by herself, or, if not, why there is scant reaction from those around her. She stays for song after song, nursing that single glass of beer.
Once again, he’s brought out of trance by his tablemates. Gets a couple of annoyed glances and some queries as to why he is watching “that drunk girl”. He does not think of her that way, and realizes with a start that he has been absent from the table talk for nigh onto half an hour. In a while, he begs off for the evening, and he and his wife make their way home.
In their hour long trip, he thinks of nothing, other than what he has seen tonight. Even months later, the image still visits him.
picture credit to: http://bilbaoarte.org/activities/dancer-in-the-dark-lars-von-trier-2/?lang=en