Why would you walk?

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“But ballet itself – it’s important. Dance is important. It’s that language that everybody understands. It’s a powerful tool to open people’s minds. It’s some subconscious thing, a connection we all have. Kids dance before walking. It’s our truest nature of being. It’s true spirit.” He pauses. “And then, slowly and slowly, as we grow older, we get more and more baggage and life changes you. We are more scared of things, more fearful. So how to eliminate that? We have to go back to how we were as a kid, because that’s our truest nature. And with ballet, that is how I’m trying to come back to this state of mind. Because that’s the purest state. Tribes dance. Every country has a national dance. In the clubs we dance, we dance at weddings. Dance is a language. It’s a language that we need, like music, to survive.”

Sergei Polunin interview Another Man Magazine

If you could be dancing

Photo: Street Milonga in Porto (2013)

we make mistakes and call them coincidences

If we never have enough love, we have more than most.
We have lost dogs in our neighborhood and wild coyotes,
and sometimes we can’t tell them apart. Sometimes
we don’t want to. Once I brought home a coyote and told
my lover we had a new pet. Until it ate our chickens.
Until it ate our chickens, our ducks, and our cat. Sometimes
we make mistakes and call them coincidences. We hold open
the door then wonder how the stranger ended up in our home.
There is a woman on our block who thinks she is feeding bunnies,
but they are large rats without tails. Remember the farmer’s wife?
Remember the carving knife? We are all trying to change
what we fear into something beautiful. But even rats need to eat.
Even rats and coyotes and the bones on the trail could be the bones
on our plates. I ordered Cornish hen. I ordered duck. Sometimes
love hurts. Sometimes the lost dog doesn’t want to be found.

Hunger by Kelli Russel Agodon

 

Photo: Hard Club, Porto (2014)

When he left

Mr. Alexandre used to work here, from 1962 until he died in 2016.

From the street, looking through the window, it doesn’t look like this place is abandoned. He might come back. Someone might come back for their bespoke suit.

If you read Portuguese, please head to Blog dos Alfaiates, Mr. Alexandre’s story is there along with other stories about other masters of elegance.

Photo: Alexandre Alfaiate, Praça Coronel Pacheco, Porto

So this was Christmas

Last year Christmas was at my parents’ and I showed up extremely overdressed in a 70s brocade hostess dress. That was the movie in my head.

Since my grandmother and my great-aunt died, Christmas was put on suspension until it somewhat became unimportant and almost meaningless.

This year, my parents decided to go on holiday so for me there was no family dinner, no dressing up. It was grand.

On the morning of the 24th I followed the Butcher’s Brass Band through downtown Porto.

Butcher’s Brass band from Stella on Vimeo.

In the afternoon I visited a friend who ended up spending her Christmas in hospital. I don’t think she actually wanted to see people.

I only managed to meet by best friend for coffee after 5 p.m. We had to go to the train station, everything else was already closed. There’s a nice franchise place pretending to be real where you can have all sorts of complicated caffeinated beverages. There’s a lady with a little blonde girl sitting at the table next to ours. The little girl smiles at me and I smile back. She gives me a raisin. I thank her in French and her grandmother is happy she can ask for help with the tickets. Our French is not good but seems to work. I give the little girl a tissue printed with cats. She looks happy and tells us she has kittens at home. They’re from Belgium and are traveling to Aveiro to spend Christmas with the little girl’s uncle and his family. They leave.

loios

We go out to  check the fancy Alumia project “created to bring a new light into the Historic Centre of Porto and celebrate its 20th anniversary as World Heritage.” It looks much better on the website. At least the installations we managed to see. You can never believe what you see in photos.

statement
This is the one I was looking forward to see because I do spend a considerable amount of time looking for walls that make a statement. By artist Tiago Casanova the tiled wall stands where the ” Fernandina Wall” used to stand, by creating a visual barrier, it “evokes reflection over freedom and timeless building of social and economic walls.” I spent most of the year looking for walls with statements.

make-porto-podre-again

 

Still, it’s nice to walk on empty streets.

xmas

We had dinner at home. Not the traditional Christmas dinner, just nice and only for two. I watch old Hitchcock Presents episodes. Only one is about Christmas. I’m waiting for midnight to open my presents but I remember that when I was a kid at my grandparents we used to wait until Christmas morning. I decide to do that instead.

The coffee shop by us was opened, we have coffee and go for a drive. The day is sunny and bright and the sea has a beautiful silver reflection. We drive the long way to get to my brother’s for lunch. Everyone is paying attention to their phones and Whatsapp family group to have news of the baby waiting to be born. Poor kid, having a birthday at Christmas. It will never be about him.Conversations jump from being in labor to newborns to faith and DNA and genetic manipulation.

casablanca
Back at home, the marathon of classic movies is still on, Gilda, The King and I, Casablanca, 8 1/2.

The Washington Post news alert tells me, at 11.31 p.m., that George Michael has died. I look at the screen in disbelief. Yes, I’m sure that 1914 and 1939 were much worse than 2016 but this year just seems to be wiping out history as I knew it, taking talent away, leaving a selfish sense that yes, no matter how much you pray for time, you just see your youth disappearing.

I remember the first brand new car I ever got, a dark blue Wolkswagen Polo with a CD player that eventually got stolen. The guy at the car dealer gave me “Listen withouth prejudice” so I could drive away with music.

listen

The new baby held on until 5.30 this morning. I guess he just wanted his own day.

This was Christmas. It’s over. We don’t do Boxing Day in Portugal

 

 

 

Festive

At home with Fátima

I first started buying vintage and second-hand clothes while I was studying in England, when I moved back to Porto, after spending a couple of months in Mozambique, I met Orion (António Júlio). I remember him driving some sort of purple American convertible when I was still in high school and being mesmerized at this dark glamorous kind of Gothic urban cowboy and his entourage. Entering Amsterdam Underground, at the time on the first floor of the (now) iconic Centro Comercial Stop , I felt like an intruder arriving home. I was not Gothic, or underground but the empathy and the sense of belonging was immediate. I have spent many hours there, preparing for possibilities, sharing outrageous eccentric dreams and plans to transform a dormant city into a rainbow, checking architectural plans for his castle up North, admiring the stained glass that would decorate the windows, lusting after the Afghan rug coat that survived the 70s pilgrimage to Kathmandu and, again, missing a life that had not been mine.

In 2012 António Júlio died. Orion didn’t because constellation stars never burn out.


Being unique and unrepeatable, António Júlio had this ability to jump generations, to go against the norm, to insist, to create diversity by making our urban routes  amazing, and surprising . It is the sum of lives like this, in different areas, which make the wealth of cities

David Pontes


Fátima I met when her store, Rosa Chock Vintage,  looked like a psychedelic cloud at Rua Oliveira Monteiro, close to my former high school. I bought an amazing green 80s batwing leather jacket that still lives in my closet and gets a lot of compliments every time I wear it. “It looks so vintage” said the girl behind the counter at the coffee shop. Well, it actually is.


Fátima’s store then moved to Rua do Almada at the center of Porto’s new life but it kept it’s difference. It was never about following the retromania hype of curated new stores made up to look old and selling imaginary “retro vintage” items.


Fatima’ s store, now at Rua Formosa, is curated to the T. Curated for each individual that crosses her door and shares her love for detail and her passion for clothes with history ready to be used in new life stories. Curated for treasure hunters who enjoy the apparent chaos of the hundreds of scarves and necklaces and dresses and sequined tops and ruffles and leopard prints and stuffed animals and the old movie advertising posters bought from Orion.


Curated for all of us that still believe that a wardrobe door can be opened to enter a different dimension.


Fátima is a true vintage dealer who has worked with clothes all her life. She knows what she is selling, she knows the history, the context and she knows that clothes are never just clothes.  Like Gaultier, she knows that they are about “what you look like, which translates to what you would like to be like.”


A common friendship and a common sense of loss make me feel at home with Fátima at her larger than life albeit tiny shop but it is her expert eye, her understanding of how to match the right piece to what I have dreamed for myself that keeps me coming back. And this always feels like the truth.


Photos:

Featured image from: http://rgp-journal.ru/users/Amsterdam_Underground/page/1

Photos 3 and 7  courtesy of Fátima Leite

All others, my own

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