Sunday, July 12, 2015

Beat Fest '58

Greenwich Village, 1958
Corner of West Tenth Street. Cyn's Place. 

"...she's not big on talking much. If you want to try on a leotard she motions with her head to the fitting room, which is behind a red velvet curtain in back of the store."
--The Beat on Ruby's Street

I would never, ever do this but all the other merchant guys on the block are pressuring me. There are days when no one buys anything in here—not even a shoelace—but other days make up for it and that’s the life of a store owner.

Sky and Blu are cool about that but the Soroccos and the jewelry cats and even some of the music store guys panic and say, we’ve gotta get more tourists in here. Beats have no money and Beats don’t buy. And the artists are saying yes because they want to sell their stuff, too.

They set up a Beat Fest and it’s two weeks away. They want me to give a dance class for some of the interpretive stuff I do and I guess I can do that. But this one’s supposed to be free to bring people into the store.

Ruby thinks I should have refreshments, but what? I can’t put out wine because a lot of kids come in here. Or maybe I can, let their parents worry about it? Wine & cheese, a few crackers, maybe some Coke-Cola. That’ll do.

I really have mostly leotards and plain ballet shoes but once in a blue moon, a dancer comes down from New York City Ballet or Julliard, for the prices. So I do stock a few toe shoes, which fascinate Ruby and Sophie. (They get excited about everything).

If people are going to come in here, I’ve got to get new curtains. The old ones are full of holes because we had a moth problem. Moths are really hard to get rid of—I think we still have them, in fact.

The thing about people is, when they come in, you’re supposed to talk to them. Not that I do, unless they buy something. Now and again I get a lifter but my man is usually around and he takes care of those.

I talk during classes but only about dancing, because I love it. Sometimes I think it's the only thing I love.

When it’s closing time I lock the door and go upstairs, turn on a record and leap around for an hour, all alone. My guy wants to watch, but I always say no.

It’s the closest thing I have right now to freedom.

My mother gave me this place and one day, I’ll get out of it. I like it down here, like the scene. But I always wanted to be a real dancer.

I like to dance and I like to dream. But I don’t want to talk about my dreams.

The more you talk, the more you spoil it. Everything.


Photo by David McLeod; U. S. Army Competition