People Watching in Paris


Who are these people? I don’t know. That’s the beauty of people watching. I don’t have to be bothered with the facts of their stories and am perfectly obliged to nibble only on the visible nuggets I glean from my peering.

During my first weekend in Paris, I came across a fanciful group of young people just up the way from the Eiffel Tower. Already high off pistaccio flavored macaroons with eyes blurry from tears that welled at first glimpse of the tower, I had to stop to take pause for an eclectic mass of brightly dressed millennials congregating under the trees. There was intention in the group’s forming yet no visible organizer—just the general awareness that this was the place to be and now was the time.

Lucky me. It’s-about-to-go-down! What? Again, I don’t exactly know but I’ve got a front row seat for whatever it is. New arrivals enter the scene giving dap and full body hugs like homies do. Black and white is noticeable but indistinguishable in this multicultural hodgepodge. There’s stretching of ankles and the rotating of necks that suggest this may get physical. Girls meander into the fold dressed B-Boy style holding made-to-order lattes or equally unassuming Red plastic cups. Then, as if on cue, a big-ass boom box lights up the airways.

I cannot believe my great fortune. With only 48 hour in Paris, I stumble upon a straight up, old fashioned, street-styled dance contest. All the Greats are present: Puma, Adidas, Nike, Reebok, Converse as well as some newcomers I don’t immediately recognize. I also do not recognize the music but it was bangin’ in an electric world music kind of way. It was definitely not of the bass dropping variety.

But never mind that—circles are forming. Dancers are floating to the center like the last two Cheerios in the leftover milk of my morning cereal. We’ve got ourselves a duel, Folks!

A Parisian girl with a hoodie tied tightly around her waist begins to battle a handsomely Afroed young man in camouflage. The battle is lighthearted but skillful. The matchup, however, between Mr. Track Suit and Mr. High Top Fade, fresh out of the barber’s chair, is epic complete with back bends, a modified moon walk and pop lockin. High-fives and accompanying cheers reveal the approval of a growing French crowd.

The travel gods have smiled on me today!

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