The Nights of Tel Aviv (Bring Wisdom)

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My first night out in Tel Aviv was on a Monday.

I googled what kind of fun was happening in the city reputed as the “Gay capital of the Middle East”. There was a girls night in a bar called AlphaBet, just a couple of blocks away from the Café Sheleg (‘snow’ in Hebrew) where I was hanging out.

I decided to give it a try, although I know too well my propension to freak out in girls-only environments. I don’t like the lesbian world. Women are hard on each other, because they don’t feel good with themselves most of the time. There is often anger, frustration and things to prove in the air. Once, a friend of mine told me “You are the only happy lesbian that I know” – and yet, most of my life shit has had to do with my orientation.

I thought I’d stay at AlphaBet for a drink or two and then move on to the male bars which are – in my case – guaranteed awesome party. But when I entered the AlphaBet, I got hit by an unusual good vibe. The atmosphere was cool and relaxed. I gave a look around. 9 girls out of 10 were beautiful and friendly-looking. It felt too good to be true, but there I was, I had found the spot of earth where all the pretty and nice lesbians were hiding. They’re all at the AlphaBet in Tel Aviv.

The bartender started chatting me up very soon. It was her second shift so she was under pressure. She translated the cocktail menu for me. She had a super warm and positive energy. I was already liking her. She kept laughing and I wanted to laugh with her. She asked me if I had randomly or purposely landed in Lesbian Paradise. I am used to that. I confirmed that I didn’t get lost in the L-World to encourage her to hit on me.

I had an unexpectedly AWESOME night. I would have never bet one second on having such a good time in a lez party on a Monday with a cocktail menu written in Hebrew so I had no clue of what I was drinking (that must have added to the fun). The best part of the night is that I didn’t talk, flirt or danced with anyone. I just sat at the bar or danced alone on the dance floor and I watched the happy girls. I love happy people. It really moved me and impacted me to see queer girls who were feeling good in their own skin. It shouldn’t be extraordinary, but it is, at least it’s been so far in my world. I just hanged out there like a lonely idiot to record all those beautiful faces in my memory.

There was a very young couple making out close to me, they were 17 at the most. I haven’t seen that young girls in lez nights in other countries, where the crowd is usually mid-20s to mid-40s. These two couldn’t let go of each other, they were so cuuuuuute, I wanted to step forward at them as their Queer Godmother to keep them forever protected so they wouldn’t get hurt by the idiot bullies on the outside world. I may need them more than they need me, though. They looked perfectly fine and they will continue to be. They belong to a new generation where hopefully who you fuck with starts being less of a collective deal. I watched them for a while, and when alcohol kicked in, I got overwhelmed by the unjust feeling that I am owed 15 years of my love life. I wish I could have gone to gay bars when I was 17 and find normal to make out with my girlfriend in a public place. I don’t know. This whole love/sex thing has been more arm-wrestling than fulfilling since my teenage. When I had my first girl attraction, I lived it like a malediction instead of jumping for joy. Some of it is due to the same-sex factor, some of it is due to the girl-off-the-beaten-path factor, and some of it is my personal ghost. I start gently taming it, though.

I stayed till the end. Cool Bartender had finished her shift and had long been gone after wrapping her arm around me. I left the place but I immediately got back in to do something that I don’t easily do when I have a crush on someone that I could potentially really like. I gave it a chance. I asked another bartender – who also thought that I had landed by accident in the lez jungle – to give my card to the girl. It was my corporate business card, not the writer one. That night, I took the conscious decision to reverse the course of my destiny and to give a chance to awesomeness in relationships. There are great people out there in the broadness of our planet.

I was super proud of myself for a change.

The day after, on Tuesday, it was Drag Queen night at Evita, one of the most famous gay bars of Tel Aviv. When I enter a male gay bar anywhere in the world – and I’ve seen MANY – I get this exact same feeling of home, safety and family. I know I am going to be instantly accepted. It never fails. Gay boys love me, and it is passionately mutual. It is an entire part of my sexual identity, because I have been assertive about it for longer. I have a magnificent “collection” of gay husbands whom I love in an irrational manner. This type of love is blurry. There is some kind of sexual attraction to it. It is hard to describe, because it is fascinatingly proteiform, as anything relating to human desire. (The trend calls that “sexual fluidity”, but I prefer not qualifying it. Makes me feel stronger about it.)

So, I entered the Evita as a conquerred land. It took less than a minute to have a guy all over me. He was the waiter of the place, Calvin Klein model looking. Ridiculously well-built. The drag show was the cheapest I have ever seen. There were two worn out drags with VERY big feet. The most worn out of the two asked if there were any foreigners in the audience. I was the first to raise my hand, I thought I’d have my minute of glory from my eternal fans. But cheap drag with big feet (and ugly shoes) told me: “Argh, you’re a girl, not interesting.” These two scarecrows lost my attention for the rest of the night. I only laughed when the timing of their jokes about Eurovision was really off.

Thank God, another show was going on behind the counter. The jaw-dropping waiter was shamelessly hitting on me all night. He claimed to be straight. Every time he was passing by me, he was whispering dirty stuff in my ear, but as I was difficult to convince, he started licking the bar, the beer pump and every piece of furniture he was approaching to “turn me on”. But I was just dying laughing. He tried everything to take me home. Well. I started considering it, because he made me a very interesting proposal. I have a fantasy to f**k a boy like a boy – to be a gay boy just for a moment – and he was into that. So I could have quenched my curiosity that night. I never even thought I’d be given that opportunity so easily. That would be a very interesting research on human desire and a very funny story to write.

But there I was again, as a good story maker. I pondered for a moment. Something was holding me back. The guy was pushy and over the top, and I was trying to sense where my own desire was. Just writing a good story? I don’t want to be the girl with good stories any more. I am known for that in my circle, this is even why I launched a blog. I want to have a funny and adventurous life, but I want the good stories to be off my heart and knickers. I am claiming the right to be “normal”, plain, serene, even sometimes boring, at the emotional level. I deserve it. Yeah!

The Bar Licker gave me half an hour to make up my mind as the bar was closing. Fuck your perfect abs, dude. I’d rather sleep again with a guy with more belly but more heart. Not interested. I walked back home when everyone left, and I went to bed alone and happy. I had acted on reversing the course of my destiny again.

I was super proud of myself for a change.

The day after, Wednesday, was another girls night at a bar called Shpagat. It means ‘split’ in Hebrew. I drunk Arak and grapefruit alone at the bar. There was no magic this time. I wasn’t impressed. I was feeling average and tired after the emotions of the last two nights. I shook up my habits and went to bed by 11pm.

I was super proud of myself for a change.

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Ultimate Stage : A Day in Toronto

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Between New York and London, I had an anecdotic 20 hour wait at Toronto airport to connect flights. How thoughtful of Air Canada! I have friends in Toronto that I never see within their natural habitat. I was therefore all excited to arrange an impromptu rendez-vous with them.

After the usual airport and transit bullshit, I found myself hanging out somewhere in Toronto with a miserable 3 hours of sleep in the system. I don’t know this city very well, because I have mostly transited through it. I shamefully ended up at Starbucks just because of the wi-fi (OK, and maple coffee specials). My US phone doesn’t like Canada and I was a pain to reach.

While I was getting hold of ∆ε and με, I slept at the Starbucks counter like a homeless (again). I was checking every now and then if the baristas were giving the impression they were about to ask me to leave the premises, but they let me power nap in peace. Bless them. There was a guy seating next to me, teaching a drawing class to a girl. More exactly, a caricature drawing class. He was randomly showing her customers of the café and chop-chop-chop she was drawing them in a few lines. I was hoping she would caricature me in my sleep but it didn’t happen (I love getting that kind of attention). I guess I was seating too close. 

At 4pm, ∆ε and με picked me up. They were unexpectedly with πρ, whom I met in Paris with the guys a few years ago. ∆ε is turning 75 in September, and he is a living legend and a key figure of modern dance in Canada. He and πρ used to dance in the Martha Graham Company in New York City so they have the hell of anecdotes about the Great Priestess of modern dance. When they tell about their life, it is a mix between a university lecture of history of dance and gossip magazines, because they have some unofficial stories about a few legends of the 20th Century. 

ε and πρ founded together with a third person the Toronto Dance Theatre in 1968, implementing the technique and influence of Martha Graham in Canada.  I met ∆ε in 2003 when I was a dance student in Québec City. He was teaching for 2 weeks and he connected me to my dance heavenly vault. I can’t think of a better image. I remember that the walls of the studio seemed to be pushed back, the ceiling felt higher and this whole worship and spiritual dimension kicked in. ∆ε can teach a whole class without barely speaking. Graham technique is like a secret language and its disciples belong to a secret society. But when he speaks, YOU LISTEN, because every single information is a goldmine, and possibly a big clue to your journey towards dance truth. 

I attended 2 summer schools with his dance company in Guelph, a little town near the big one. We’ve been friends ever since. He is a devoted francophile who often teaches me one or two things about my own country. We catch up on either side of the ocean, mine or theirs. Both sides are actually ours as we don’t necessarily feel home where we were born, and our meetings are always short, wonderful and unexpected. I had last seen them in east London less than a year ago, in ∆ε’s first love’s house which is a veritable 4-floor art gallery opposite to the house of Gilbert & George.

ε is in a cult couple with με, one of his dancers, 30 years younger than him. I love them together. They are one of these creative collaborating couples that I aim to be in some day. They don’t have time for bullshitting each other like most couples do because they’ve always channeled their energy in a creative way. 

This time, ε and πρ started talking about a performance they did at the Espace Pierre Cardin in Paris years ago. They mentioned that they were in Paris in May 68 so they witnessed the historical mess, but I am not sure if the Pierre Cardin story was that year or later on. πρ said that Pierre Cardin was a “total jerk” (sic) who loved himself way too much and was unable to pour his own drinks without a handful of domestics serving him. One day after rehearsal, Pierre Cardin gave them a tour of his office. He was like: “What do you think? I designed everything myself.” πρ was laughing to tears when he explained that his desk was designed in a handbag shape and that Pierre Cardin was obviously proud of it. Pierre Cardin later told them that he really liked their dance show because “he was ahead of himself” and was therefore entitled to understand the subtility of dance avant-garde. Then, ∆ε and πρ told a trip they did through Italy, where they stayed at a lovely hotel, thinking people were very weird until they found out it wasn’t a hotel but a sanatorium. 

Every time I catch up with my living legends, I get a handful of excellent stories which make me see art history, or life in general, under a different light and we have so much laughter. I am not missing a word when I spend time with them, it always makes me see things in a more laid-back, inspiring and reassuring light.

In the meantime, my amazing friend Ν had joined us. She is a beautiful mixed-race dancer with more hair than me, which is quite an achievement. She dances with the Toronto Dance Theatre. She actually is a natural version of a drag-queen (way more than I can ever claim to be), cause she’s tall, muscular and has exaggerated hair and outfits. I met her at the summer dance intensive with ∆ε’s company in 2009. We shared the same house and we remained friends ever since. She is positive, loud and retro. I’ve never seen her down. I love her. 

I stayed over at her French-decorated flat for the night. Her cute flatmate was there, an adorable 23 year old gay dancer from Québec City (we studied at the same school). He picked some spoons out of the freezer and put them on his eyes to decongest them. Interesting image. I love to steal gay boys their beauty tricks. He was on his way out to a famous drag queen contest. Oh no! It sounded like a call from destiny. I would have totally gone with him and been crazy till dawn if it wasn’t for a silly plane taking me back to an overseas life I don’t want a few hours later. And actually, for the first time in weeks, I was excited to go to bed. Sigh. I observed him for a moment. He was exactly what I want to be in my next life. I want to be a young beautiful gay male dancer with insolent beauty and fuck everyone without constraint. This is totally what I was programmed to be, but then the gender thing went wrong. Dammit. I envy gay boys for the sexual freedom they grant to themselves. I do that too, but as a girl, I find more obstacles on my way. It is still more difficult for girls to have unconventional and free sex lives, because many girls are their worst enemy. I find that a lot of them are scared, judge themselves or think too hard.

It was the first time in ages that I felt disappointed to be me and not something completely opposite, because New York had a soothing effect on me : I was the right thing at the right place at the right time. I stepped out of my City and in less than a day I was caught back by my companion fantasies of who else I want to be.

I stayed in with Ν and we watched ‘Flash Dance’ eating blueberry pie, which was wonderful too. How could I spend so long without watching Flash Dance? I vow to have a refresher every year. 

At 5am, a cab picked me up to my final destination. I was so dead from 7 weeks of intense life embracing that I fell asleep on the plane instantly and didn’t even feel the take off.

Thus finished my Spring 2014 North American Tour.

As soon as I got in London, a Brooklyn sign hit my eye on the underground.