Last night, a group of at least 13 of my friends piled into several cars and drove to Milwaukee to see Matisyahu live in concert at Turner Hall. The last, and only, time I was in Milwaukee was part of Crazy Cubbie Weekend.
It was awesome. Despite my somewhat eclectic tastes in music, I have never listened to much reggae, so I’m really not all that knowledgeable about it. So all I can tell you is that I think Matisyahu’s music is unbelievable. He’s got such a strong voice, and I don’t know how anyone could hear him and not be impressed at his ability to combine chassidus with reggae. At one point, he did a human beatbox bit that was amazing. You’re hearing these sounds coming out of a Chasid, and somehow it just works. And that’s even before you add in his lyrics, or how he’ll introduce songs by explaining a bit about Jewish thought. I’ve never seen anything like it. If any of you have a chance to see him perform, I highly suggest that you go. Even if chassidus and/or reggae are not really your thing.
But the most beautiful part of the evening was not on stage. It was to the left of the stage, where a section had been set up for men to dance. (Thought: I happened to be sitting right behind the women’s dancing section, and so I got to watch 13- and 14-year-old frummie girls dance. I realized how very few of them actually know “how” to dance the way that their secular counterparts do. Yet the frummie girls all seemed so much happier and self-confident that I remember being at their age. I’m still self-conscious about my dancing abilities, and I have seven years of ballet, tap, jazz, and pointe under my belt. End of thought.) At first, the only guys dancing were three adolescents who could not have been older than 13. Two might have been Jewish, whereas the third was an African-American boy with dreadlocks. (Yes, I know, he might have been Jewish, too. He just didn’t look Jewish. That’s all I’m saying) After a while, two chassidische middle-aged men got up to dance as well. They were both probably in their forties, short and a bit stocky, with a scraggly beards that reached his chest, wearing a black hat, black suit, and white shirt, with tzistzis handing out. Very stereotypical chassidische Jews.
After a little white, the two Chassids joined hands with the three boys. The boy with the dreadlocks was holding the hand of one of the Chassids. And they danced together in a circle.