July 15, 2009

Citizen Dance

Walking through San Francisco's Mission District is so much like being part of a giant, improvisational citizen dance. People linger, run, pause, panhandle, scream, cry, and meander the streets day and night. The best way to self-choreograph through this dance is to walk with confidence but without aggression, with purpose but with casualness, with certainty but with room for spontaneity. It requires a learned movement vocabulary that is unique to this area of the City.

This dance reminds me of the unique movement of London. Walk on the left or the right, you're never sure but you have to move with swiftness and purpose. You are certain to brush up against other folks with nearly every step. I recall walking down an empty street with just another person across the block. For some reason we both crossed the street towards each other and actually brushed shoulders in the middle of the road. It was a beautiful moment of Londoners finding each other. In The Mission I would say it is an effort to avoid that moment of contact if you want to keep safe.