A homeless appearing man approached me today. This is not uncommon (although, it is a bit uncommon on Newbury St). Our interactions were typical. He smiled, laughed a bit, then started telling me random facts about himself. In this case, he was talking about how he was "an old school pop and locker". He danced poorly for a bit as I smiled and danced with him. Then he left for a bit. He came back danced a touch more and fist bumped me multiple times then disappeared again. I continued my work. The third time, we had yet another typical homeless person interaction -- he asked me for money.
"Hey dude, come here. Can I get $2 from you?"
"No. Sorry, can't help you."
"Come on, let me get $2 to buy cigarettes."
I laughed. "Uh, no. I'm a doctor. Why would I give you money for cigarettes?"
Then he got aggressive. "Man, you're not a fucking doctor. What kind of doctor are you? You're not a fucking doctor. Who dances like that? That's not dancing."
He stood near my bag and between me and my potential donors. He glared at me with hostility. Then I got angry and was concerned that he could potentially just reach into my bag and steal the money. He continued to spew his negativity at me while I danced trying to ignore him. I could feel myself innervating to the point of transformation. Then I snapped. I stopped dancing. Adnan emerged.
"All right, that's enough. Get away from my stuff. You need to leave. Go the fuck away. Now."
He continued to invade my space. In that moment, the power of DBD and Adnan combined. Words, dance and showmanship came together to form a shield to defend myself.
The anger on my face contorted into a sneer. I got right into his space. Then I turned to passersby and loudly requested money from them on his behalf. "Hey! This guy needs $2 for cigarettes. Can you help him out? He's an 'old school pop and locker'!"
He took a step back.
"Hey everyone!" I shouted even louder. "This 'old school pop and locker' needs $2 for cigarettes! Come on, bro, you want money, earn it. Let's battle!" I danced threateningly. As I danced, I became bigger than I am. He backed away more and more. People walking by laughed with me as a jeered at my opponent. "The old school pop and locker here says I'm not a doctor! You don't know me, bro!" He became smaller and smaller as he back away. In a vain attempt to save face, I could just barely make out that he was flipping me off -- yeah, he was done. I laughed heartily as he rounded the corner and disappeared for the day. Some of the audience put a few dollars in the charity bag before walking away. I danced and couldn't stop laughing at what had happened.
Several aspects of this experience were notable. First of all, the money I earn on the streets is not my money to give. My donors give to the cause, and I have the duty to ensure that the money arrives safely at a cause that benefits the community around them. Secondly, why would a doctor give you money to buy cigarettes? Was telling me you needed it to buy cigarettes supposed to convince me that yours was a cause worth donating to? Furthermore, if there are two things you probably shouldn't insult about somebody whose moniker is "DoctorBeDancing", it's their doctoring and their dancing.
Over the course of my life, I have used my dancing to many ends. It's been a universal language that allows me to connect to people with whom I cannot otherwise communicate. It's allowed me to take the spotlight, make friends, make money, get attention, relieve stress, energize, exercise and overcome anxieties. This was the first time I can remember using my dance as a weapon to intimidate and tear down an attacker. The audacity of the dance had prevailed, and it had felt incredible.