(Be advised: Video contains partial nudity.)
Berlin was so packed that Friday that I had trouble breathing but it was the best feeling, one that I was not frightened of but overjoyed with as the night continued.
The evening was a love letter to Robyn and Bjork, two musicians with seemingly clashing aesthetics. I was afraid before attending the event, not because I disliked either musician but because it had the potential to go terribly wrong. All of the joy and heartbreak in each woman’s music overwhelms the senses. I didn’t realize this until we were packed on the dance floor, consuming whatever space we could find.
That morning, I texted Barrett and told him that I would be attending the event. A few days earlier, he sent me the invitation but I hesitated in saying whether or not I would attend. Work sucked. And my irritable nature towards work left me tired and angry. I wanted to stay at home and do nothing and find pleasure in the fact that my nothingness was more rewarding than what I do during the day.
Sometimes the music was euphoric and with my eyes closed, I let the music overtake me. Sometimes I forgot where I was: on that dance floor with these great friends who felt deeply. There was a visceral connection to those around me and I wanted the feeling to last forever. The promise of the next day was fleeting. A moment that good soaked up the energy of the weekend.
I realized that, while powerful, Bjork’s music is best accompanied with visuals.
“She’s so beautiful,” I said in while watching the ‘Pagan Poetry’ video. Sheathed in a white lace Alexander McQueen gown with beads sewn into the flesh of her upper body, she literally suffered for her art to tell the stories that we relate to, that make us press our hands to our hearts. The physicality of her images worked well with Robyn’s music. This was supposed to be a battle, but I found more similarities in the layers of their music than dissimilarities.
At the club, I noticed that we all began to place our hand over our hearts while singing along to the music. Very little contemporary music provokes this gesture, at least for twenty somethings who’ve seen and done it all. But it kept on happening, over and over again, and I couldn’t help but think about it. It’s an involuntary gesture born out of an artist’s lyricism and intonation. That night, I did it most frequently during the quieter moments, the ones that spoke to familiar emotional states of the past months.
As I get older, my connection to music changes. I need it less. I appreciate it less. What I hold on to is largely what I treasured when I gave a damn. Mostly, I miss the emotions of being a teenager. Everything was overwhelming because it was at the surface and it was resolved within minutes. I cried a lot but without the tears, the frustrations of being sixteen would not have resolved themselves almost instantaneously. Now, I largely feel numb, or I bottle my feelings until they manifest as “unbecoming” angst.
I remember the way music held precedence over most anything else. You will never love a song as much as when you were sixteen years old. It is so difficult to articulate grievances at that age but a really great song – a really brilliant album – seems to do it in this indescribably significant way.
The DJ played Robyn’s ‘Show Me Love’. It reminds me of a simpler time, when expectations were reasonably obtainable. It was pre-puberty, pre-high school, pre-millennium, pre-angst.
“Everyone’s singing!” Barrett exclaimed, and it was true. The lyrics are simple enough but for most of the people in the room, the song’s greatness is measured in the weight of emotions tied to memory. I looked around. A hand across the heart was more common than not.
One need music that is emotional, relatable, and overwhelming. Music is primal, rhythmically building off the sounds of nature and the human heart beat. A good beat rattles the nerves because it is so familiar, and in its familiarity, one also finds something comforting. For me, that comfort is the difference between a good day and a bad day.