Lili Marlene, the song about a soldier in love, reminded me of Maurice Béjart’s dance piece, The Soldier in Love. I searched for its video on YouTube and found one performed by Jorge Don, in which one of the surrounding performers declared before the dance, “this is the last dance of a dying man!” A soldier in love is always beautiful, but the beauty comes in part from the premonition of his tragic death. The more joyfully Don dances, the more sorrowful he seems. The soldier will die, just like the soldier in Lili Marlene, a song about the first (and last) love of a young soldier during WWI. It could be dangerous to idolize a soldier in love, who is symbolic of an inevitably approaching death. I feel the crowd around the soldier is being irresponsible in cheering for the dying man. Yet Don, bursting with joy like a child as he dances, is beautiful.
One evening when we were 16, Y got out of the clubroom after the basketball club’s daily practice session, and went into the garden. He then took off his sweaty shirt and started a funny dance to the pop music song that was playing on a friend’s CD player. Other boys gathered around him. The coach smiled at the scene and went back to the teachers’ room and the girls didn’t seem to care. I heard crickets chirping. Boys were jeering at him, and I, having missed the moment to join them, admired the dancer from afar. Soon the boys started to join the dance. At our small school, there were only two clubs—basketball and baseball—and all the students were required to attend one of them. I chose basketball although I hated all forms of sport. Everyday after the practice, I felt a great sense of relief. As the sweat dried off, my tired body felt a bit lighter, and I enjoyed the momentary freedom. We were graduating and soon I wouldn’t have had to practice basketball anymore. There would be less time to see Y. He found me by the clubroom door and approached me. Then, taking my hands, he said, “dance.” Surprised by the touch I withdrew my hands, smiled awkwardly and shook my head. “Don’t be shy,” he said but didn’t insist. He went back to the center of the dancers’ circle. Lalalalalalala… They sang and danced. The song would end soon. The night fell on them like a curtain.