I think just about everyone has one.
A skill that you hold, that you bring out at every opportune occasion, only to realise years later that you’ve got no talent in that area whatsoever.
For Bridget Jones, it was cooking.
For me, it’s dancing.
I’d always quite fancied myself as a dancer. I did good old jazz ballet and put myself through three Rock Eisteddfods. Upon watching the first match of the Olympic football tonight, I cast my mind back on dancing in the opening ceremony of the Olympic football in Melbourne.
Then I fast-forwarded. To this.
Seriously, what is going on here? I look like, as Jerry Seinfeld would so eloquently put it, a hipster doofus. Look a bit closer at my face, though. I actually look quite chuffed with myself. I was learning how to dance the flamenco. I wasn’t just learning this anywhere; I was taking a flamenco class in Granada, home of flamenco. Our teacher, Augustinia, is aged somewhere between 60 and 90, but she moves beautifully. Slowly – very slowly – we go through the moves of this 300+ year old performance.
As I said before, we don’t just do it anywhere – we step, clap and spirit-finger our way through it all in the caves of Sacramonte, high up in the Albaycin district of Granada. Flamenco’s a combination of Moorish, Jewish and gypsy culture and it was created in these very caves. When I remind myself of this, I give myself goosebumps.
After I saw this photo, I never wanted to flamenco again. I’d thought that I’d looked good. But I was the tour guide, so week after week I’d be dragged up again. Augustinia would give me seemingly encouraging words in Spanish (Spanish people always think I know more of their language than I care to admit) and off I’d go, stepping all over myself and doing my spirit fingers out of time. I’d then flop back down again and sip my sangria, hoping to be never called up again.
And then one day, it happened. We were at the flamenco show, hours after our class, when Augustinia appeared next to me. Grinning maniacally, she pulled me up on the stage, with four dozen Aussies chanting my name. Just to set the scene, I did not look my best at the time. I may have still been wearing my bathers under my dress from the hammam hours beforehand, my hair looked a treat and the last meal I’d consumed was a kebab. And I was in thongs.
Flamenco dancers, meanwhile, look like this:
What could I do? I was in the home of flamenco, damn it. So I forgot about my non-skill, and flamenco-d away on stage with Augustinia. And once more, for a moment, I believed I could dance.