Monday, July 7, 2008

Shakin'-It till the end

A couple of weeks ago, I once again managed to get some last minute tickets to KSP, a Russian gathering extraordinaire of boozing and singing in a little campground naïve enough to host us, to the amusement and horror of its American, summer-long trailer campers. For years, each KSP gathering was a fantastic orgy, where ye ol' youth came armed to the gills with cases of vodka and left panties scattered under the trees of unsuspecting campgrounds. But of late, after the organizing committee devised a new system that restricted who could get tickets, the event not only toned down, but became veritably family friendly. This year, KSP was so impressively well-behaved that it resembled more a picnic of singing Christians than godless alcoholics on the prowl.

Luckily, some stalwart ghosts of KSP past made appearances. For example, there were the people who loudly sang the Russian National Anthem at 5am, to the beat of a tin drum. There were the bathing beauties that were drunk by early afternoon and yelling at me for leaving camp (to go pee). There was a very drunk organizer who, while whispering sweet nothings in my ear, prompted an older lady to whisper back mysteriously, "Young man, I know all your secrets…" My favorite, however, was Shakin'-It Girl.

The youth of KSP had been strategically banished to the far end of the campground (and named the corner The Strayer), where they are allowed to have their night concerts without disturbing their equally inebriated parents at their own concerts. We sat/stood around on a circle of logs and people would come by, hook up their guitars, sing loud, and we would sing along ecstatically. In very Russian style, The Strayer was littered with bottles, couples danced learned tangos and salsas, in the mud, to seemingly inappropriate songs, and there was a sprinkling of ironic communist T-shirts. And, of course, there was Shakin'-It Girl.

She was wearing a long, flowing skirt, a belly halter top, and a scarf sewed with jingly coins wrapped around her hips. At first, she parked herself in front of her friend and stood shaking her hips like a Turkish Energizer Bunny, mostly rhythm-less but not completely unsexy belly dance moves, accented with bird like flapping of her long skirt way up high on both sides. Her friend encouraged her with her own intermittent shaking from the safety of a man's lap, and with swigs from their bottle. The bottle led to Shakin'-It's slow and ostentatious demise. Imagine seeing an egregiously flamboyant bird get shot with slow acting poison and then spending the next 2 hours watching the bird flail its wings and twist its dense little body in poorly cadenced spasms, until finally, it falls on its side, and unable to get up any longer, continues to twitch in its floored position, slower and slower, but never quite stopping it's own or the onlookers' pain. Shakin'-It just kept getting more and more wasted and straying from the safety of her friends out into the middle of The Strayer circle, where the reaction of smirkers was already heavily outweighing that of her mostly male admirers. She backed it up at musicians as they sang, at onlookers, at inanimate objects, at darkness herself. She latched on to bystanders, both for the support they provided in staying vertical and as targets for the unhindered smooches she handed out, and, amazingly, she kept shaking it.. The shake, by then, had deteriorated into a sloppy, boggy sway punched periodically back to life by spasmodic gyrations. It was incredible. No amount of disapproving hissing, cajoling by friends, microphone amplified announcements by singers and mediators, or falls into the mud, or alternatively, the fire, could convince Shakin'-It to stop. When I left The Strayer and made my way back to my camp through the dark woods, I could still hear her tinny, coined scarf ringing with the aria of an untrued bike wheel bouncing on an unpaved road.

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