A young woman called Patricia Wright while attending her local Inner Motion Dance Collective one Thursday night said: “OK.”
If it was to Barry Braun, the balding middle-aged chemist who had a perchance for beige slightly too see-through leggings offering a bran biscuit. Fine.
Or yes to Mable Blaine’s invitation to the Korean Bathhouse post-dance session for nude bathing. Fine also. Patricia needed a wash.
But no, Patricia squeaked it out to Jocelyn Radishowsky, Dance Leader.
One of the dancers had dropped out of the upcoming National Art Gallery show. Patricia, having had a few lessons in Ballet when younger, thus became “That Red Guy From That Matisse Dance Painting.”
The directions were vague, the leotard several sizes too big and the red bodypaint thick. Patricia began to worry she may be in for the same fate as the lady in Goldfinger.
The one meetup in a disused warehouse was rife with drama. Barry Braun had managed to cross the line by sporting wafer-thin leggings in white. He had also unnecessarily been gyrating too close to Pauline Mavis during the Conga Line warmup.
It was a shambles. Patricia was in too deep. “That Red Guy From That Matisse Dance Painting” seemed to have most of the action, and there was no way out if she wanted to stay in the group.
Besides, she had made some good friends and had fallen in love with the lead bongo player (an Italian Australian who wore caftans and drove a small blue car). Deciding to commit fully, Patricia arrived early the next day at the National Art Gallery, saggy leotard in hand and a pot of itchy red paint in her bag. It was cheap student acrylic as no one had any money for the real stuff.
It quickly became apparent it wasn’t so much a “show” as an “entertainment by some weirdos while Gallery fundraisers nibble on salmon souffle and guzzle champagne.” There was no stage. Jocelyn barked orders from the side of the public toilets to “just impersonate the paintings,” and away they went.
Barry Braun was the beige clad weirdo from some undecipherable sculpture. He interpreted this to the dismay of the now hemmed in foyer crowd, as involving heavy use of squats — Barrys trusty beige leggings showing their age at this point.
In any other arena, the whole performance was an assault. At one point, Patricia came face to face with one of her university Professors. Their eyes met, but she employed a savage growl and dropped to her knees before crawling away. She hoped he was too frightened to notice.
It was traumatic for all involved. There were dance injuries, the guests were scared witless, and the Gallery made no money.
Patricia used the experience to learn a few things. Being an unpaid, unrehearsed and unheard of amateur modern dance enthusiast is tough. Dating a bongo player doesn’t mean you have to also be in the show, and thick red paint hides embarrassment exceptionally well.