Love, jealousy and wanting to be in two places at once : Gregg Smith
It's eleven thirty on a Sunday morning and Gregg Smith, organiser of the Very Real Time project
Is presenting his contribution, entitled Love, jealousy and wanting to be in
two places at once in the foyer of the Labia Cinema in Cape Town's
beautiful and gentle Gardens area, and at the same time at the slightly
seedy Barney Barnato Bar, on the corner of Buitenkant and Roeland Street.
At the Labia, a man walks into the foyer of the cinema, orders a glass of red wine,
and sits down reading a film programme. He glances around shyly, perhaps
looking for someone. Ten minutes later, a woman enters the cinema, and also
sits down. She also appears to be looking for someone. The couple steal
looks, but don't engage. A tango song begins to play. The man seems to be
becoming nervous. Another song follows the first. The woman gets up to
leave, her coat half on. The man, now obviously nervous, but with some
bravado, approaches her. They begin to dance the tango.
Smith had for this project, constructed a fictional narrative. A couple,
whose marriage is quietly growing lifeless, decide to rekindle their passion
through the tango. But not any old tango, rather a more risque partner
swopping form of the dance, each with a different partner in separated venues.
As Smiths says, "The tango is a very special dance. No two couples dance it the
same way. It is the ultimate expression of love if it is danced the right way".
Two performances, then, at the same time, of two couples performing a blind date
tango dance, in different parts of the city. Smith talks of this project
(the tango) as vechile for "self and social renewal, a way to recapture lost
time, operating in two realities, two venues."
It was the simpleness and quietness (gentleness) of the performance that captured me. It
reminded one of old films, and seemed in the Sunday mid-morning light to have a
an almost sepia tint to it. However, the fact that it was staged in very
real time, just before the matin�e shows, bought the event firmly into the
present with viewers and cinema goers providing the backdrop. The gliding,
scuffing, and shuffle of the dancers' shoes, the smoke from the man's
post-dance cigarette (smoked sans partner) idling into the air, the furtive
glances, barely suppressed nostalgia and eroticism- all had a cinematic
quality to them.
The performance ended as seamlessly as it had begun: the woman left
silently, the man ordered another glass of wine, and after finishing it,
left quietly too.
Cameron Platter is a Cape Town based artist