My flatmate, her friend and I took a taxi and picked up another guy who joined us. We had some smalltalk about his work and stay in Shanghai until we arrived at the girl´s compound. There I stood, three Italians and me in front of a French girl´s house in Shanghai, China. I loved how international my life was and nearly everyone I met was from another country. An Egyptian on the plane to China, who by now became a really good friend, Italian, Chinese and Brazilian girls and a Serbian guy in my flat and other people from literally everywhere in the world.
However, let´s come back to the story I wanted to tell. It was the normal kind of party as you have them in shared flats, we had drinks, talked and made jokes. I talked to a girl from the U.S. who lived there and introduced she me to her friend. The American girl had lived in South Korea before and talked to a bunch of Korean girls about how much she missed the country and its customs. She asked me to drink some Korean rice wine with them and since I didn’t´t want to be rude I tried it and played a round of some drinking game with them.
The friend she was studying with, a girl from Colombia, was there too. We didn’t´t really talk too much at the party, but we smiled at each other whenever we thought that her friend was doing something funny… which happened more and more often since she slowly got drunk on rice wine. My flatmate and other friends were socializing and drinking, but I was slowly getting tired and bored. I also didn’t´t really want to drink too much, since I had to get up early the next day. I wanted to meet my Chinese friends at Nanpu Bridge for a weekend trip to Shengsi Island, which wasn’t´t too far from Shanghai and locals loved it for its fresh air and sea food.
So, I told the American girl that I won´t stay too long and would leave soon. Everyone told me I should stay and drink but I was looking forward to my trip and didn’t´t want to combine a hangover with the waves on the boat to the island. I was surprised when I the Colombian girl told me she´d join me and we could share a taxi. Since she was living close to a subway station that was also not far from my flat we left the party together after saying goodbye to everyone and walked along the street until we found a taxi.
We talked about life in Shanghai and about what we were doing in this city. We chatted about missing vegetables and meat of good quality and were to find great food and restaurants. She asked me were I was going the next day and told me she´d be travelling to Cambodia and Vietnam for the next three weeks. We agreed that we should definitely meet again and go to a good steak house she recommended. We stopped at her address and I told her I´ll pay for the taxi. When she insisted that we should split the bill, I said all she owes me is a drink when meet next time. After just one or two minutes I arrived at my apartment and was surprised by how close she was living to my place. We had exchanged our phone numbers, but somehow I didn’t´t really expect to meet her again.
It was about four weeks later, when I came back from my outdoor weekend in Hangzhou and received a message from her. She asked me if I would like to have some coffee. Since she had forgotten that a friend from Columbia was in China too and wanted to meet her she asked me if it´s okay if he joins us. It was about noon when we met in a cafe near East Nanjing Road, halfway between People´s Square and the Bund.
She and her friend were sitting by the window when I came in. But before joining them I went to the counter of the café and got a fresh pressed juice. We were talking about the job interview at a coffee store and about all the coffee she had while talking to the owner. Since it was too much caffeine she wasn´t feeling very good and looked quite pale. We left after we finished our drinks and walked to the nearby metro station, heading home. Her friend went somewhere else.
I can´t really tell how and when the topic came up, but we started texting and I told her about ballroom dancing and the studio near South Shaanxi Road where I joined a Salsa class. She wanted me to prove that I really knew how to dance and I was totally unprepared when she said it´s Latin Night at Bar Rouge on the Bund. Nevertheless I was in the mood to go out and really felt like it´s going to be a lot of fun. We agreed to meet an hour later and I had no clue that this would probably be the best of all my Shanghai nights.
The club was on the rooftop of an old building by the river and quite fancy. If you didn’t´t know the password, which she did know, you had to pay 100 RMB to get in and there was a kind of strict dress code. I’ve been there before, but it doesn’t´t matter if you´re a regular guest or coming for the first time, the view from the bar´s terrace is always impressing. But we didn’t´t come for the view and soon I found myself dancing with her.
I could see how much she enjoyed the music and the movements of her body reflected her pleasure. I danced with lots of women in my life, I knew how to lead and how to dance quite professionally, but this was something completely different, it wasn´t about steps and figures. She told me she never really learned to dance, she was just moving to the music as people at her home do it. I overcame my shyness and she felt by my hand on her back that I knew how to take the lead. My left hand held her right hand and first I started to turn us around. We moved over the dancefloor and after a minute or two I was keen enough to try some figures. It was a new way of dancing since I had never tried it before. Figures I had learned were set free from all the rules of ballroom dancing, steps and coreographies weren´t important anymore. It was pure joy, it was all about feeling the music. I just couldn´t stop smiling when I looked at her and she asked me what´s so amusing. All I could say was that I was having fun and happy to dance with her. I looked around and saw the Chinese flag on the terrace. The Oriental Pearl Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center and the other skyscrapers of Pudong´s skyline were colourfully illuminated and I couldn´t believe I was there… dancing as I never did before, with a girl who changed my whole understanding of it, on the dancefloor of a rooftop bar in Shanghai, China.
We stayed for some time, dancing again and again, and we once more we shared a taxi to go home. When we said goodbye and hugged, I looked in her eyes and left one hand on the small of her back. Needless to say what I did when she asked me if I´ll kiss her or not, but after this night dancing had a whole different meaning to me. This night was when I really learned what it means to dance. I never again joined a dancing studio.