I hit up a local joint in Nairobi on my first night: Ranalo Foods. The night involved my failed attempts at eating without utensils and a staring problem aimed at all the moving bodies on the dance floor. This is what I observed. “The body is constantly swerving into different 'S' curve forms, snaking and rolling and making dance a public display of their private spirits. Moving like they're underwater, yet unable to abandon the rhythm. The smaller the moves, the better; slow, deliberate gyrations all with the smooth coat of style. It's 'own world dancing'...no one is self-conscious. And it's all in the joints with hips gliding, shoulders throbbing, and all eyes looking down to the work being done by themselves and the handsome one nearby.”
I rarely am intimidated by the dance floor, and even if I'm in a new country, I usually take the stance that if I make a fool of myself, I'll see none of these people again in the future. But, I didn't dance this time. I wanted to so badly, to test my skills at mimicking this underwater, snaking, gyrating dance of East Africa. I thought I could break the barrier between myself and the rest of the crowd on that Saturday night. Oh, but I was alone, and I didn't want to be a spectacle.
I added this first night at Ranalo Foods to the list of moments I regret. I could have given a nearby soul my camera to record whatever failed or successful attempts I made to assimilate into the dance culture. I could have smiled and gotten so far, making new friends who would dictate the way I should move.
And why am I writing about that one time when I didn't dance at a restaurant in Kenya? Because it could have enriched my Nairobi experience to unknown heights, and I'd rather you not make the mistakes in your journeys that lead you thinking later..."That would have been really cool if I had been ballsy enough to do that." I didn't show those boys in the bar in Cambodia the Soulja Boy dance, and I didn't swerve to the music of East Africa. I still remember the things I missed. They're small, but they could make all the difference.