Saturday, June 21, 2008

Portrait #25: I fell in love with a security guard tonight

OK, not really, but I've never seen a security guard quite like this one. He may have been more along the lines of a bouncer, come to think of it, but then again, I felt like his behaviour was a testimony to the safety of this country.

This weekend the French Cultural Centre is sponsoring a weekend of events at the Damascus Citadel. It is a surreal experience to watch a French film or dance to Euro hip-hop music in a 1000-year old Citadel courtyard, to the backdrop of the call to prayer at the city's biggest mosque. I highly recommend. Tonight was DJ Snook's party, and we went to listen and hop to his French musical vibes. When we arrived, several guys were taking turns breakdancing on the stage, and after a few minutes, we noticed among those on the side of the stage awaiting their turn to dance, there was a big man in a suit waving his arms at the crowd in a gesture meant to get us screaming and clapping. But his face was sombre and, well, he was wearing a suit at DJ Snook night, so I was more inclined to laugh than scream. Then he disappeared back into the crowd.

Half an hour later, some friends and I were taking photos of each other, but having a bit of trouble because people kept walking by. The big man in a suit popped up and stopped all foot traffic long enough for me to take a photo. Then he offered to take a photo himself, and we agreed. After all, he was wearing a suit and we'd seen him on stage, right? So he must be safe. Check out what happened next.

I handed him the camera and went to stand by my two friends. But right then a spotlight turned on behind us. The man in a suit waved at the lighting guy and made a clear TURN-OFF-THAT-LIGHT gesture. The light went off. He held the camera up to take the photo and we posed. But of course some people walked in the way right then, and he reached out to push them back. Then, with the three of us still posing, he tapped the shoulder of a girl who was inching in on him (remember, this is a dance party, a modest amount of inching-in is to be expected) and asked her to Step Away From The Camera. She didn't take him seriously the first time, but the suit and the sombre face eventually convinced her to get far away. So we finally got our photo taken and our camera returned. He smiled ever so slightly and walked away.

Yet another half an hour later, one of the breakdancers was in our part of the crowd, so the dancing was starting to take off. The group of guys in front of us were just a tad sketchy, but it was all in good fun, we thought, and I felt safe since there were nine people in our group of friends, including some guys to protect us if we needed it. After a bit, the dancing really took off, and one of the guys from the other group started dancing with one of the girls from our group. She wasn't thrilled, but it was short-lived and she got out of it, and we decided it was time for us to head on home. But as we were inching our way out of the crowd, we saw the man in a suit pop up and start talking with the men who had been dancing around us. He pulled two men out of the group and led them away. Then he came back and seemed to be pulling more men out of the group. We decided it was not beneficial for us to watch this to its end, but several minutes later, standing at the other end of the citadel courtyard, we could still see the tall man in a suit's head poking out of the crowd, still discussing and taking control of the men who had dared to dance with one of our young women.

Gotta love a guy who treats you like a VIP to get your photo, then bashes a dozen men for not doing the same.

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