By Clarissa Cummings
As a kid I was one-tenth of a dance group known as the Kush Kush dancers. It was a name given to us, without democratic process, by the Trinidadian father of one of the dancers. We were a motley crew of precocious girls from different nationalities and religions, however, we all had in common the one short street block where we all lived. That one street in Brooklyn was barely big enough to hold all the families, grandmothers and visiting cousins included. But for those of us still under the eyes of adults looking out the window, East 35th Street was our entire world. So every summer when the block party rolled around we became the kings, queens and royal court of our street. It was the one day our street became ours and ours alone. And what did we do? We danced! The Kush Kush dancers would take over a patch of the street for seven minutes to crank our arms and legs to the beat of a Michael Jackson song. Then we'd keep the crowd under the spell of our glitter and end with an encore that we liked to end with a kick and split that would take all of one minute to complete. It was our street and if was a one-minute split we wanted, it was a one-minute split we'd get. The street was ours and nobody could tell us how long it should take for our legs to touch the ground.
Volunteering for the upcoming Open Streets has rekindled a lot of memories about those days of the annual block party. I'm reminded of the Kush Kush dancers and the power we felt when we claimed some space of East 35th street. I also remember the boys who were finally able to pop-a-wheelie down the street without being interrupted by a passing car. I think about how there was no other day in the year our families had the chance to gather on our street at the same time and share in laughs. But mostly, I think about the experience that awaits in Langa when Langa has the power to do as Langa wants.