What makes you happy the most?
Music; when I dance; when I achieve success in something that I do at work -- I love my job -- when I hear the girls saying to me, “I passed my exam! Thank you very much for training me!” It makes me happy. “Mission accomplished! Yes!”
I do have a big part of my life and that is dancing: A nice song, having a good connection with the person I’m dancing with, close my eyes, have a good time. Listening to songs just takes me away, it’s just in here - my entire soul is absorbed, I can imagine myself dancing. And because of the lyrics of the song, the rhythm and the beat - nothing can attain me,
Now, capoeira is a really big part of my life: it can make me sad and happy, because it’s so important to me that I care so much! When we had a great class, and if I was not in a super good mood when I arrived at class, as soon as we started doing the Ginga - the fact that all the students were in sync in their movements, and the music was so loud - you get into the trance. I had that moment and that look on my face, that I was happy! And when we do the music class, when the energy of the music is good and instruments are pumping, that just makes me happy.
So I guess, overall - music!
If I think of work, it’s all about the visual -- if I see something, I’ll do it. But audio -- it’s very important. For our capoeira classes, we say: “Teach as if to do the blind.” What you say have to make sense even to people who can’t see. I do believe that in the artistic world, people will understand something when they look at it. With capoeira as well, you gotta look at someone, see how it’s done. But the audio is more in the music, the trance. I call it a trance because when I listen to music, such as salsa or any dancing music - it is music that equals moving my body to it. As I’m moving into the music, conscious of only certain parts of the body and what the body is doing, but I’ll be completely unconscious of what’s around me.
Capoeira can be a big exercise. We have been training quite militarily, trying to get our resistance up, sometimes try to continue without even water. If we end up in a game in which we can’t last, we’re going to lose our focus. At the beginning of the class, we’d do 10 minutes of movements, then for 45 minutes from the time we start, we’ll be moving the whole time. 45 minutes later, which is usually after 10 songs - 6 songs if we’re lucky - we’ll repeat the same kick, and then do another kick, and another kick... So many that at some stage, your body’s sore and painful, but you also have the birimbao and the instruments pumping so loud around you, you have so much echo in the room, at some stage, you’d only hear the music, steps, people counting, their heavy breathing. And all you can feel is the breathing, plus the pain; and you want it to stop, you pray for the music to finish, but then you don’t even care if the music doesn’t finish - you’re gone - you’re beyond the pain, you become stronger - it doesn’t even hurt anymore, you can’t feel the pain. Afterwards I would think to myself: “Oh my god, I love capoeira, it’s so good!” That makes me happy! It’s so satisfying, I can’t explain it. Salsa - I miss it, but capoeira is probably why I haven’t danced for such a long time. I’m absorbed in capoeira, I love it, it's so good.
We do take things for granted. We take our master for granted. We would complain, “Oh it hurts... He doesn’t care... It’s painful...” But when we went to Australia for the congress where he was the invited as the guest, Pererez did a workshop where he trained everyone that way. And for us it’s normal. and he was quite kind: the song wasn’t too long. At the end of that song, he told us to keep our breath - which is lucky - we don't get to have that usually to keep our breath. And because of the way Pererez was answering questions that were asked to him, people looked at him like “He’s great!”. So I thought: Don’t take him for granted. Because of it, even when injured, I would still go to class - because I respect him. That’s why I would feel bad if I can’t live up to his expectations.
I hated the capoeira uniform, I don’t ever feel comfortable in it. But now, everytime I put my abada on - the capoeira pants that hold the belt - I’m proud, and I’ll be like, “Right! Let’s do this!” It’s not just what I wear - it has meaning to me. It’s no more my master is also my flatmate, it’s “He is my master”, and I’ll just say. “Yes, Master”. Sometimes I may feel like it’s unjustified, but I know he’s the one with the knowledge. If it’s “Yes”, it’s yes; if it’s “No”, it’s no - it’s his rule, it’s his castle. When I go to class and put my abada on, I give honor to what he says.
Now, for the next question...
The answer is Chocolate! Hahaha
What do you think of Wellington?
Do you really wanna get me to talk about Wellington. It’s gonna be 5 million interviews.
Wellington: it’s home. I’m planning on leaving it, and I will come back. But the truth is, you never know. I’m scared that I’m gonna miss Wellington. Coming here, I became who I am. I was a teenager when I came. (I’m still a teenager.) I had to open a power company, look for apartment, sign a lease - I’m out of my parents house, now I gotta go for it. I learnt a new language here. English wasn’t very easy.
But it’s also that in Wellington I never felt alone. When I went back to France. it was ok, but I was really glad when I came back here. People are so friendly here. My first friend was Avi, Lloyd Jones’ son. And I remember when I first met Avi, we met on Valentine’s Day. We met at Reading Cinema at the food court. He gave me the NZ big hug. I was still more French then than a Kiwi. Kiss kiss, “la bis” we call it. Avi and I were walking around... He was so open minded, so open to meet someone. He was one of my uncle’s friend’s wife’s cousin. I think he was coming back from travelling. Because we were of the same age, my uncle suggested, “Oh you should meet him!” I used to always say, “Sorry my English isn’t very good.” I was not so sure of everything. But it makes me laugh when he said, “Well, you speak a lot for someone who doesn’t know English very well.” Haha!
At the time I was saving so much money: I didn’t know anyone so I would stay home in the weekend. I would visit friends in Australia, I had friends in Bali so I went to visit them... And my best friend came, so we went to Fiji... The Flight Center agent used to call me the Jet Setter: I used to walk in and say, “Hi, I want to go to Bali next week... I want to go to Fiji next week...” Then I started to look for salsa stuff. I was missing dancing. I started meeting people, and that’s it, I had my salsa crew. My first good friends here were Robin, Robert... I did apply to go to Australia to go work there before I joined the salsa community. If it wasn’t for them, I would have went and worked in Australia.
I felt really lucky. I was doing so much stuff. When I went home, I saw all my friends - we were still doing same old, same old - and I missed my friends in NZ. I wanted to go to Salsa Drome, I wanted to go get dumplings, have bubble tea, go out on Sundays and go shopping, go to supermarket at 10pm - in France I couldn’t do that. I wanted to just walk down the Terrace, if I feel like it, and go to the market... and see the sea! I wanted to look at the sea on one side, and on the other side, look at the hills! Have the blue and the greens...
Having lived in NZ, I found Paris so beautiful. The city was dirty but, I found that for the first time, I paid attention to things when I went back there. I’m more aware, since I’m in Wellington, about the environment, and nature, about how everything we do affects it. People are a bit more conscious here. It’s nicer, feeling less threatened by the foreign, I became so open-minded here. I have friends from China, India, Brazil, Mexico... In France, you have people from overseas, but I haven’t been exposed so much before in France.
I love the size of Wellington. I love that there’s lots of things going on. Even though now I tend to do less things socially, I go out less; I’ll go to the same places, enjoy doing the same things.
It’s definitely people that I love. The easy way... chilled out... And the Sunday Market: I love going to the Sunday Market and walk all the way to Oriental Bay and back... And there’s always these little tiny restaurants and cafes everywhere.
It’s also that I’m having less regiments. When I arrived, you would not make me go to KK Malaysia for food. It doesn't look dodgy to me anymore, but I would never go to Newtown restaurants. The other day when I was driving through Newtown, I was like, “Aw my little Newtown...”
Just being nice to people is what changed for me as well. When I went home, at the supermarket, when I was paying the bills, I asked the lady at the cashier, “Hey, how you doing? How’s your day?” And the lady was like I was asking for her purse! And even my best friend was like, “Why the fuck did you ask that?” Here, we would be like, “How’s your day? How you doing?” We would just ask simply, “How’s your day?”
Wellington - so many stuff! Professionally, I became a more independent hairdresser. Although I learnt in France where I was a senior stylist doing things on my own, but I just came out of school. Here, I was really senior. I worked and gained lots of experience. As a teacher, I am able to work in the artistic team in the best merchandise chain. I have a good spot, I have to say. There may not be any moving further up. In that role, it’s the role. You could become the manager and work at the head office, but I’m not someone who would work in the office. I don’t want to deal with being a boss. Now I think, actually, I would love to have a business and make good money - you just need to be taught, detach the artistic, the emotional, the doing... See? I’m getting there.
Wellington has helped me appreciate me as myself, as me! Actually, I think I’m fucking awesome! Hahaha! And it’s not been an easy journey. I made good encounters, good friends - real friends. I know that there will be people, with whom, if I go and come back in 10 years, we never know where we’ll be, and I know there’s that bond and it’s quite strong. I don’t just consider these people my friends. it’s my family. There are people who know me more than my family, than my friends in France, who became different people. I became more of a woman here, and more confident with myself - on the professional side, social side, relationship side... It was hard - I learnt so much. I met so many people that are so amazing. So many!
I learnt how to do nothing as well in NZ, which is hard. I need to be socially involved with people. If people don't hear from me, I feel restricted sometimes. Now I enjoy times with myself - hard, but getting there.
Yeah...I just met amazing people, and doing stuff with them, enjoying walking up the hill and see the sea, and just chilling, just sitting on the bench at Oriental Bay... I got my Spanish back. I met capoeira. Capoeira met me... Yeah, just incredible people. Even French people as well, with whom when we went back home, just hanging out, it was so cool! Just connecting with people, just feeling like I belong to a group and we belong to each other. And I’m gonna miss them very much.
I love Scopa and Duke Carvell’s hot chocolate. I love Oriental Thai. I love the bathroom downstairs in Museum Hotel. I love just walking around Wellington. Embassy theatre - how beautiful is that movie place! I love the film festival - so much going on! I love when, right, I’m gonna go to that party next week, and I have nobody to go with me but I don’t care, coz when I go, I know all the people there. (But sometimes Wellington’s too small...) Bohemian said to me the other day, “Always arrive fashionably late and leave fashionably early.”
The more I’m thinking about Wellington, the less I want to go home to Paris.
Sandy has moved back to France, and is now living in Paris.
She is still dancing.