Amy O Freed Me To Move My Ass
On Friday night, I spent $25 to get into a party at the Seattle Art Museum because I am a fancy lady with a job who can afford to do things. I was pissed off about some fuck-ups at work and had just angrily power-walked home (and beat the bus, hey!). After smoking a bowl and trying on a seemingly endless rotation of outfits, I was off again, to the SAM Remix, where pop DJs, interpretive dancers, and copious amounts of wine mingled with the lady-centric art on display.
During my brief walk downtown, I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt like my waitress face was stuck on. I bounced when I walked. Was it the pot? Or was I so happy to do something other than work and grocery shop and laundry? I was actually out doing something fun in this big rainy city!
And then, I was there. I was overwhelmed. I was given a museum map and schedule for the night, but was too distracted to read. I chatted with a woman in the coat check line about the pros and cons of checking coats, then ran out of things to say. I watched a woman do an complicated, aerobic, and deadface dance to “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.
Next up was Amy O. After missing The Most Innovative, Daring, and Original Piece of Dance/Performance That You Will See This Decade (still kicking myself, it’s tough to be new in town!) I was looking forward to seeing her perform. She started slow, rocking out with something triumphant and Gloria-esque. Then came the hip-hop, the beats, and the booty shaking. Amy O definitely showed off her skills as a dancer while doing something innovative, daring, and, yes, original. I wanted her. I wanted to be her. I was mesmerized. I didn’t take any pictures because I didn’t want to capture a still image of something so fluid.
I was also conflicted about the copious amounts of booty shaking we were all witnessing. I’m down with the female form, with honesty, and with unafraid sexuality. In my small foray into the Seattle arts scene, I’ve witnessed a celebration of the middle school girl who looks more sexual than she feels (but you don’t know how she feels) dancing alone in her bedroom to those music videos she’s not supposed to be watching. I wasn’t allowed to watch MTV till I was 15. I get it. No one shakes their booty better than they do in the mirror.
But it also felt uncomfortable and not-quite-so-transgressive to be watching a dance that, in a wholly different setting, would be bringing in dollar bills.
Of course, I didn’t see The Most Innovative, Daring…Performance et al, which I’ve read was as much a lecture as it was a dance, so what do I know? Amy O is reconceptualizing dance, sexuality, and the female body. That’s not going to increase audience comfort levels.
What it did increase was my comfort in shaking my own booty. After seeing Amy O’s brief performance, I wandered the rest of the museum in a daze. Drank a $7 glass of chardonnay, drank some more, ate a peanut butter cookie, poked around the exhibits upstairs (but I wasn’t there to walk around polite, sober, and alone looking at art. I was there to drink and dance and interact!), and gazed melancholic at all the people dancing and having a great time.
Then I thought, “What the hell am I doing over here? I should join them!”
I must say, I honestly danced better on Friday night than I ever have in my life. Maybe it was the music, maybe the wine, maybe my red pants, but I think Amy O’s booty shaking freed me to move my body in a way I normally can’t unless I’m drunk AND alone AND in the dark. (Read: never.) I shook my ass. I spun around. I smiled at the women and pretended not to see every man. (I can’t dance with guys. They try to lead and I’m not a good enough dancer to follow.)
Then that peanut butter cookie hit my stomach and I felt so sick I left, missing a highly opinionated tour and the opportunity to dance my ass off for the rest of the night.