Sunday, March 06, 2005

Sushi and Stepdancing

So yesterday night I got to go out to dinner and a concert with friends, minus Mr. Personality or Hubba-hubba. Wow, I had actually kind of forgotten what it was like to go out on a weekend night, I actually saw lots of people! Usually I go out on weekend days or weeknights, seeking to avoid the millions of people who always seem to be doing what I am doing.

The concert was held at the California Institute of Technology, or as we refer to it here, Caltech. Caltech is located in Pasadena, and has a lovely campus that I was sorry to be seeing at night instead of day. Caltech often bests MIT as the best college in the United States, and the two of them duke it out for the top spot year after year. Caltech is somehow less well-known than MIT, perhaps they just don't care. They don't have too much to prove, and perhaps are more laid back than their stuffy Eastern counterparts. My friend works at Caltech, and was able to get discounted tickets for the show.

When I was told about the concert, I thought that I wasn't sure it was my cup of tea, but I was game to try something new. It was a group called Vishten. They hail from mainly Prince Edward Island, Canada. Their background is Acadian, which is apparently a mixture of French and Irish. They are first cousins with the Cajun population of Louisiana, and the music is very similar to zydeco. It is mostly very upbeat, with lots of harmony and complicated rhythms. They also do stepdancing, and something they called "sit-down dancing" where the name pretty much describes it. There were four, all playing different instruments, from a flute, mandolin, bass guitar, fiddle, to an accordion and rythm guitar. I especially enjoyed the fiddler, his enthusiasm and energy almost literally leapt off the stage and into the audience. It was the kind of concert where you clapped along with the music and didn't feel the least self-conscious about it.

I have always envied musicians and their ability. There is something just wonderful about watching skilled musicians ply their craft. String instruments have always been my favorites, and when attending the symphony, I love to watch the string section and their bows move up and down in perfect unison. The level of concentration they have, the intent expressions on their faces when playing a particularly challenging piece, spark a frisson of jealousy in me. I highly doubt that when I am sitting here slumped over my keyboard writing, that I would evoke any type of similar response from anyone.

Before the show we went to dinner at a Japanese/sushi place, and we were seated next to a table of two couples, with all parties being at least in their sixties. They were at the end of their meal, while we had just ordered drinks. At one point I glanced over to their table, and I just started to laugh. Each one of the people was either holding a cellphone to their ear and talking to someone else, with the exception of one of the men who was busy with his Blackberry. Only in LA would a group of sixty or seventy-somethings be way hipper than me!

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