Postcards from Babylon – urban rhythm communities

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I remember reading about city’s having their own unique rhythmic tempo and how it’s important to align yourself with those rhythms when you live there. It’s true. In Auckland I’m used to rising around 6am, because I live in a forest by the sea, and I like to be outside as soon as I wake. When I moved to Paris that particular rhythm didn’t work. Because here I live in a small apartment and I can’t go outside. The shops open around 10am. Most Parisians dont venture out until the streets have been cleaned around 9am. The Indian vegetarian restaurants in my quarter the 10th, are totally rocking around 11pm. So I’ve learnt to adjust. I now go to bed much later and I’ve learn’t how to sleep in… Nice!.

The other thing I do here to align myself to Parisian rhythm is dance. I go to a series of different 5 rhythms dance groups all over the city and have made some new great friends through this. Also dancing is beyond langauge so it’s a nice way to meet people through moving together rather than talking. Sometimes they teach in English and French together and so it’s a fab way to learn a language and it becomes embodied knowledge.

Peter Wilberforce, who is a Parisian-based Londoner, brings a great commentary to his dance session. I came home after his first class and wrote down… “Respirez avec tout le corps.” (Breathe with your whole body). “Le musique est le paysage. Traverse le paysage du le musique avec tout le corps.(The music is a landscape. Move through the landscape of the music with your whole body.)

Once a month on a Friday a teacher called Christian de Sousa comes from London to teach Movement Medicine which is a kind of ecological take on 5 rhythms. Christian is also a photo/music journalist, an urban documenter and brilliant writer. I bought his book Postcards from Babylon: A rough guide to liberation recently. I lost myself in its big fat pages and beautiful binding for a few days. Couldn’t put it down. The story was so compelling and beautifully described. And it resonated deeply. Liked it so much I’m inspired to recommend here. With great design, and the photography is edgy, raw and sensuous. It’s a great fresh take on cities, music, urban activism, mostly centred around London but also with chapters on Jerusalem, Tokyo, Basel, Paris, New York and others. Highly recommend for anyone interested in fluidity and circulation through the city, it includes a gritty critique of globalisation’s impact on urban dwelling, with an added bonus of historical lessons on the beginnings of urban dub, trance, reggae and the search for spirituality and meaning through dance, music, meditation and Taoism in post-industrial urbanism. Read what Lee Scratch Perry and others say about Christian’s book here


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