There’s Flash Dance. Dirty Dancing. And then there’s CoviDance.
By Mia Berman
Maybe I’m not as agile as Ginger Rogers. I admit it. I never partnered with Fred Astaire or Baryshnikov. And maybe I didn’t have the moves of Shakira.
But what I did have was an idea. When the Covid pandemic hit, I began wandering the rather lonely streets of the West Village; I noticed the solemn expressions on the faces of many essential workers. Suddenly I thought, “What if I could make them smile in just a few seconds?”
Watching the scurrying, committed essential workers trekking tirelessly down Greenwich and Hudson, across Houston and Barrow, unpacking truck loads of furniture, produce, mail, and groceries; crossing paths with the endless Amazon cart drivers and Grubhub deliverers, I decided I couldn’t perform my comedy act. They were simply too busy to stop. So, as I pondered the possibilities, I proceeded to do my own daily form of Zumba (“Mi-umba” ) to my selected rockin’ music… and then the bulb went off.
Since I love to dance, and dancing is contagious, why not put on some upbeat tune (Beatles, Beach Boys, Sergio Mendes, Manu Chao) and ask one worker a day to dance with me—six feet apart. The goal? Merely to break up the day and honor the worker’s devotion and work ethic. Just for 15 seconds.
And so it began. I cautiously walked toward Jerrica, the USPS postwoman, and asked her. I blasted Chaka Khan’s “Aint Nobody.” And just like that, Operation CoviDance # 1 was on the map.
Every day I choose a new tune, a new band, and a new fun outfit with bright patterns of stripes and polka dots, matching scarves, head bands, gloves, socks, masks and scrungies in neon pinks, turquoise and magentas to turn the gloom to sparkle.
As of now, I’m up to Operation CoviDance # 44… and still twirling. My West Village one-on-one dance partners have included building superintendents, small business owners, supermarket, café, pharmacy and restaurant workers from 11th Street Café, Hudson River Flowers, UPS, Amazon, Fed Ex, DHL, Chobani, Orient Express, Imperial Liquors, MTA, Flat Rate Moving, Fresh Direct, Caviar, Leitao —Portuguese Street Food, Wild, Village Apothecary, Grubhub, Café Kitsune, Oak Beer Distributors, Dumbo Moving, Reis Contractors, La Contenta Oeste and St Luke’s Church Thrift Shop. Some are shy, some hesitant, but once they take the first step, they’re enchanted. And they smile.
I’ll persevere until the pandemic is over. I’ll twist, meringue and salsa my way through this. Perhaps now I should start branching out into tango. After all it only takes two…