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Purple Clover: Modern Dance

loureedOn July 4, 2000, Lou Reed played a concert at the Cinerama in Tel Aviv. I was living in Jerusalem and there was no doubt that I’d go. Lou Reed brought me back to the time when I defined myself by music. As a teenager I liked alternative music, therefore I was alternative. I didn’t understand that self-definitions like this were pretentious and limiting. I just knew I really liked “Sweet Jane.”

I’d been dating my boyfriend for about a year and we were at a crossroads, trying to figure out if we should ditch or stick. Neither of us was particularly emotionally evolved — we were dating but we weren’t best friends. I didn’t go to that concert with him and now I can’t even recall why.

I felt stifled by our relationship but I suspected that the problem was me, not him. Whenever I changed my schedule to accommodate him, I felt like I was betraying my feminist principles. Whenever I started thinking like a couple, it seemed like I was abandoning a deep need for self-expression. Whenever I was “giving” towards him, I felt as if I was sacrificing a part of myself. I was a real piece of work, insular and closed to love. But by that time, after years of avoiding relationships, I was starting to acknowledge this and I was working on it.

Lou Reed made me rethink it all. Watching this icon of my adolescence, and particularly the anti-establishment ethos he represented, I wondered why I was even in this relationship. Who says everyone has to be married, I thought. Why can’t some people just be alone and do their thing and not have to make compromises?

Then he started singing “Modern Dance.” It was the first time I’d heard the song and as often happens with Lou Reed, I felt like he was penetrating my soul. “Maybe I should go and live in Amsterdam,” he sang, and in the next verse, “Maybe it’s time to see Tangiers.” Lou was contemplating going all over the place — wearing a kilt in Edinburgh, getting a farm in southern France, going to Yucatan “where women are women, a man’s a man.”

I felt as though Lou was validating my fears, telling me to trust the instinct in me that was resistant to being in a relationship, and that I could make the choice not to settle. Read more

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