Sunday, January 2, 2011

Muzungu Dance

Around December 30th, I convinced Rene – essentially my only friend in Rwanda during the holidays – that he did not actually want to go to the (fucking) Congo for New Year’s Eve…that he actually wanted to spend it in Musanze WITH ME. Not only would New Year’s in the (fucking) Congo have been potentially the stupidest thing that I’ve done in my life (right up there with a few SAS adventures and 90% of my Senior Spring)(I could just see the headlines: “Stupid American Kidnapped in Congo over NYE” with the commentary “What was the girl doing in the Congo in the first place?”), but it would have been pretty difficult for me to get there in the first place. To prove that you’re not some journalist or photographer trying to get into the Congo, you have to prove residency in a neighboring country (including Resident Visa, Working Permit, and bank account records) and show an invitation letter from a Congolese citizen who would take responsibility for all your actions – to apply for the $120 one-month single-entry tourist Visa. In some ways, this does show improvement in the governing of the (fucking) Congo:

1. It actually had standards – 2 years ago when Zack first went to the Congo, he bribed the guy at border with $40.

2. It shows some sort of working bureaucratic system. Heck, these rules aren’t written anywhere on a Congolese website – I got them from the Kigali ex-pat web forum – but it does imply that Congo has some sort of functional embassy in at least some foreign countries.

I’m not sure which government (or mining company) these embassies report to, but that’s beside the point…what I see here is PROGRESS.

Moving on… I’m not sure I can credit my convincing skills as much as Rene’s 2 day hangover from his Christmas weekend in Burundi, but whatever the reason…he did decide to stay in Musanze with me. I was especially happy about this because, 4 months later, Kigali remains a miserable city that I associate with heat, bureaucracy, and nothing else.

9pm on New Year’s Eve, Rene and I cheersed each other with the nips that my mom sent over for Christmas. Rene couldn’t even finish one because it was “shitty girly shit.” I reminded him that he drank Banana Beer; but he did not understand the obvious parallel.

Then we headed to…of course…the local bar that I go to 2+ times a week. Because where else to bring in the New Year but a place where I’m served a Mutzig before I even sit down? (Btw – the “local bar” is actually called “Volcana Lounge” and, in an effort to make my life seem classier, I’ve decided to refer to it exclusively as “The Lounge” from now on.)

At first, we moved on to beer (Liquor before beer – you’re in the clear! I was making good decisions.), but then we decided to spice things up by spiking our beers with the nips that we had brought along.

It wasn’t long before I thought I was good at pool and challenged Rene to a game – which turned into 3 because I kept on insisting that he was winning by a fluke. I think to end my ridiculousness, he won the last game before I had even gotten A ball in. (I am categorically not good at pool – however, I actually have a winning record because of my ability (? boobs?) to get my opponents to scratch on the 8-ball.)

As if playing pool a sign enough of my drunkenness, I then thought I could and should dance.

Which was obviously hilarious to begin with, and just turned amazing when the performers for the evening came on stage.

One of them wanted to show off a new move…it was called the “Muzungu Dance.”(Ironically, on my Weeds binge, I had just finished “the brick dance” episode, where Nance dances for Guillermo.)

I got very excited about this, and informed the people standing around me that I was a muzungu – in case they didn’t already know – because I was so excited that he made a dance for/about ME.

And then…the shining moment of my life came: he asked for a muzungu to come up and demonstrate with him. I was on stage before he finished the request. He asked me to demonstrate the “Muzungu dance” and then they turned on the music. In the back of my mind, I knew that this was somehow making fun of me, so I decided to disappoint by showing off stellar dance moves. Unfortunately (obviously), in the moment, I couldn’t think of anything to do except alternately pump my fists in the air and kind of shake the rest of my body. Stellar. I bet, totally NOT what he was expecting. He then imitated my moves, but actually added some rhythm to it, and introduced the new “Muzungu dance” to the people at “The Lounge.” Still, I knew that this was making fun of me…but I couldn’t quite pinpoint how, so I just beamed with pride and looked for Rene in the audience to celebrate with me.

Rene was nowhere to be seen. All at once, my mind went on overdrive: Rene didn’t see my muzungu dance, Rene abandoned me, Rene had my money, Rene didn’t see my muzungu dance, Rene had my phone, Rene wouldn’t be able to ward off scary men who wanted to dance with me/marry me, Rene didn’t see my muzungu dance.

I went on a mission to find him, checking the kitchen first. They do love me at The Lounge, but not enough to let me act as a sous-chef on a whim. I was kicked out of the kitchen and told that Rene was outside. “Which outside??” I was very concerned. But not for long…because I did pretty quickly find Rene standing right outside the door, where he apparently PURPOSEFULLY went to AVOID watching my muzungu dance.

This put me in a sad mood.

But then it was midnight! Oddly, there was no announcement for this, Rene just showed me his phone. We super-awkwardly hugged, and started making plans for going home. After all, my night could only go downhill after some Rwandan rock-star coined a dance after me…

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