Thursday, January 14, 2016

Bowie in Bangkok. Now Gone. And Still With Us. Like the Memory of My Shoe.

Bangkok 1983.

I was 13, and there were no seats. We stand in the vast oval of the Thai Army Stadium in Bangkok, crammed with Thais and me and my brother. Not sure who came on before Bowie but we waited and waited and waited for what seemed like hours after the taxi dropped us off.

He walks on stage finally. Platinum hair, Royal blue pantsuit. The arena comes alive. and the crowd presses forward in one solid piece. I am pulled downward then forward then my feet lift off the ground and I think, This is what it's like to die crushed in a crowd. 

I can see my brother trying to push space for me and for him but our small bodies have no power. We surge apart. One shoe comes off my foot. A fragile white mesh flat, ballerina slipper. Really impractical footwear when trying to survive a stampede. I feel frantic, undone, one bare foot feeling the packed dirt of the stadium floor. But I am upright and I know this is good. The pushing stops, it might only have been a moment stretched out by adrenaline, and I feel relieved to be standing, relieved that the undertow of the crowd was gone as fast as it came. The music starts. No, maybe I just can hear it now. My heartbeat slows. And I watch as a fragile white mesh slipper passes hand over hand above the crowd, seemingly straight towards me. I don't remember signaling or waving, "Hey that's my shoe." Kind of like the magic of a 3D movie, when it comes straight to you and you don't even ask. I slip my white mesh shoe back on. I am breathing and taking in the world-sized beat of Bowie.

My brother and I decide that Bowie was late because he was dying his hair hours before the show. It shines white in the spotlight and he sings Oh Baby Just You shut Your Mouth.... Shhhh...... Hands rest on my shoulders throughout the show, Thai-style, where bodies aren't separated by personal space bubbles and we are all connected and very much alive, thrumming to the energy of one Mr David Bowie in Bangkok 1983.

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