When I heard Prince died, I followed a lot of news coverage and tributes made for him. Got deep into my ‘Prince’ wavelength. I found out that my best friend had ordered a Purple Rain CD, a week before Prince’s passing. Got goosebumps when I heard about this cosmic connection that my friend had with Prince.
During my almost religious intake of all coverage on Prince, I also learned that it started to rain during Prince’s Super Bowl halftime show in 2007, as he was playing Purple Rain. Apparently rain was a rare and unexpected occurrence at that time of the year in LA. When the producers asked him if he was ok to carry on performing in the rain and if there was anything that they can do for him, Prince said: ‘Can you make it rain harder?’.
I got determined to watch Purple Rain again this weekend as my tribute to Prince and as his parting gift to me. You see we were very close. It’s only natural that Prince and I enjoy our private goodbyes, in our special ways.
However, before i can shut down in my personal and ceremonious Prince overload time this weekend, i need to take part in entertaining a friend who is visiting from Dubai this weekend. We originally planned to party with him ‘like it’s 1999’.
Although I had some reservations about it, all the preparations went as planned and our Saturday Night Outing was commenced.
We (as a couple who lost their ‘going out vibe’ due to age, poor finances and lack of motivation) managed to get psyched that our single, international partier/Casanova friend was taking us out! Hurray!
The Vintage Polka Dot Dress
As a woman who does not go out a lot, who just turned 41 and as someone who is always struggling with her body image, it was a hard to decide what to wear. Not knowing what would be right, I went along with an old favourite. I wore an old friend’s hand-me-down nighty, which of course is a vintage nightgown for me.
Now that I think about it, I had that dress for more than 23 years. Rachel, who originally owned it, must have had it at least for another 20 years before she gave it to me. Oh..I have so many memories with that dress. I wonder if Rachel had any moments or memories enhanced with that dress too.
The first memory that stuck with me about the dress is from 1996. Location: Ottawa, Canada. Time of the year: Halloween. I am living on my own for the first time in a bachelor flat. A good friend from high school, is visiting me in Ottawa, from the States. We dressed up, painted our faces and went out to have wonderful Halloween night, dancing away at The Well.
Next time I remember wearing the dress was I think the following year. 1997. Or maybe the previous year. Doesn’t matter. Location: Istanbul. Time of the year: Summer. I am on my summer holiday while in university, visiting my family, walking on Istiklal Street (the famous pedestrian walkway) with the same dress on. My hair is in small Bjork buns. People look at me funny. I don’t care. I am as I am.
Next memory with the dress is in 2014. Location: Istanbul, our apartment in Çukurcuma, overseeing the Galata tower. Time of the year: Early spring. We’re having a garage sale in our flat because we don’t have a garage. There’s a great turn out. Good money made with our junk. Positive vibes of the dress still resonates.
Next, October 10th, 2015. Location: again Istanbul. The day of our new flat’s housewarming party. Sadly Ankara bombing happens in the morning, killing 107 people, injuring 500. Devastation. Fear. Anger. Sadness. We don’t cancel our party but we let people know that if they don’t want to come by any more, we totally understand. Much to our surprise 25 of expected 50 guests come. We hug, we cry, we laugh, trying to keep sane together. The good vibes of the vintage dress continues.
Fast forwarding to last Saturday night: April 23rd, 2016. Happens to be the National Sovereignty and Children’s Day of Turkey. Location: Istanbul. We are going out with our friend, visiting from Dubai. I wore the dress again. 19 years after the first memory of wearing it! Somehow it turned out to be the perfect fit. It made me feel like a hippy, gypsy princess, feeling even better than the previous times i wore it. I felt right in it. Tall? Enough✓ Stylish? Enough✓ Sexy? Enough✓ Cool? Very ☺ I also got some positive feedback from my dear hubby and his friend. I am good to go.
We started the night at home, having some drinks and catching up on each other’s latest news. As predicted not much news on either side. Let’s head out.
As soon we hit the town, our International Casanova friend left us, to chase some tail solo. What? How? So long! Have fun!
Gizli Bahçe (The Secret Garden)
We went to ‘Gizli Bahçe’ (Secret Garden), the bar which was once my sanctuary. I discovered Gizli Bahçe when I was visiting Istanbul during the summer holidays, as i was studying in Ottawa. It reminded me of the Wim Café in Ottawa, on Sussex Dr., where we used to study and hang out at. Unfortunately it is no longer around. Oh the good old 90’s. Few remains standing from the days of my youth.
Gizli Bahçe was and still is at Nevizade, Beyoğlu, on the 2nd and 3rd floors of an old building, decorated with some old armchairs, sofas and some sparse posters on the walls. I used to go there in the afternoons, read, write, meet people and then in the evening, i would dance my ass off, at the very same spot.
When I moved back to Istanbul from Toronto in 2004, Gizli Bahçe was again the place where I met my old friends who welcomed me back home.
I have a sour memory from my first time back there though. I was feeling a bit chubby at the time, coming back from the generous serving sizes of North America. I remember queuing up in the toilet line, 29 years old at the time, with my blue polka dot mini skirt. I’m pretty sure the guys behind me called me ‘Miss Piggy’. Although I loved Miss Piggy, being named as her look alike at the time, did not make me feel good at all ☹
Anywho, last Saturday night, i went to the same bar as a 41 year old woman, technically, possibly, as old as some peoples’ mother there. However I was wearing my ‘vintage polka dot dress’ this time. Feeling great and aching to get into the groove and dance.
As soon as we walked in the bar, ascending up the stairs, life turned into slow motion. Loud music thumping with heavy beats, lights are dim, one girl in a short white dress, dancing like crazy. Go Girl! As we walked in, heads started turning towards me. It felt like there was a spotlight on me and everyone was following it. Not all at the same time though. If this was a slow-motion scene in a film, we’d applaud the 1st AD for her great background actors’ direction. People shared the gaze in a very naturally occurring pace. As complimentary as it was, I was getting a bit weirded out by it.
And there was the owner of the place, Nilgün, at her usual corner. She also noticed me and looked at me with interest. I smiled back at her. We used to hang out and chat a lot back in the day. Since I haven’t been going out recently, she must have forgotten me. She comes towards us and compliments me on my dress. Kisses my hand. Talking to me as if I am royalty. Imagine that. Weird.
Anyways, we walk in the crowd, get closer to the DJ stand and dance till the wee hours of the morning, accompanied by the interested looks of the people around us. My limbs, my dress and the music flow in such a great synch. I am so in the moment! ‘The moment’ that all my yoga classes, my affirmations and my failed meditation attempts try to help me catch!
We made it back home as the morning prayers were echoing from the minarets. Witnessing the darkness lift up, as the day brightens.
Such a magical night, for a 40+ year old to dance the night off and to go to bed at 6:30 in the morning.
We managed to sleep till noon. Woke up to find our Han Solo friend sleeping ‘solo’ on the couch, the facilitator of the evening, whom we didn’t get to hang out with at all. We had a great, big, a la Turca breakfast together, trying to remedy our severe hangovers. Spent the rest of the day with minimum movement and with lots of refreshing beverages. As it happens in all Turkish households on a Sunday, the guys started watching the football game.
Purple Rain Farewell
I excused myself to get back to my original plan for the weekend. My date with Prince. I went out to the balcony. Set up my laptop. Put on my headphones. Wrapped myself in a big blanket and hit play for the Purple Rain on my small screen. As the film started, its complicated but easy to follow story unraveled in its unique ‘80’s style. Prince’s amazing presence, his passion, his unmatched musical talent and his fragile vulnerability were felt from the very beginning of the movie. As I was enjoying the company of my good old friend Prince, in a tad chilly open-air setting, it started to rain. Oh my, what a wonderful moment! Sitting at a balcony, facing the Maiden’s Tower on the left, the Topkapı Palace on the right side of the Bosporus, watching Prince performing his heart out to Purple Rain guitar solo right in the middle, as it’s raining cats and dogs, with special effects provided by bolts of lightning around Istanbul.
In this almost religious moment of connection with Prince, I realized that the night before, not only I was dancing like him, I was also dancing with him. Grinding, shimmying, flowing with the music. I felt my emotional connection with Prince, helped me experience myself as a beautiful, fascinating and proud woman. I felt like a queen. People around me, whom I didn’t know, also made me feel like a queen. Damn it, I am a queen!
We all are!
As long as we can tap into our core sense of being and remind ourselves of who we really are, despite the time, the surroundings and even the limiting company we sometimes have!
We just need to cherish and feed the sexy, beautiful, queen energies that we have inside us. Oh.. i sound like my yoga teacher now (blairelindsayyoga.com) but she’s right! I am right! We should not fear our unique diva moments, we need to embrace them.
Thank you Prince for reminding me how to own my differences and how to elevate myself with them, instead of trying to hide them.
Thank you Rachel, for the best hand me down dress of all time!
Thank you Gizli Bahçe, for being almost the only constant in this amazing but desperate megapolis that is Istanbul, for the past 20 years.
Thank you old friend from Dubai for triggering the ‘rock’n roll’ in us. Do come back 🙂 Maybe we’ll hang out together next time
And thank YOU all for your patience, for sticking around till the end of this story.
Please have the same patience with yourself in discovering, allowing and enjoying your special oddities.
100% satisfaction guaranteed because Nothing Compares To You!
Live. Love. Thank. Live: Do things for the experience of it. Love: Enjoy everything as you are doing it. Thank: Appreciate all you do and all you have. Because without one the others are obsolete.