Dawdling around the massive 19 building-complex that is Rockefeller Center can be very rewarding. Especially in front of the entrance on 49th Street, which leads directly to the premises of the NBC Studios, where occasional sightings of familiar faces are very likely.
– ”I’d like everyone to stand aside please”, said the security guard with authority. ”Make way please, thank you”!
Right behind him a tall, lean figure was dashing out the door. We looked at each other with amused disbelief, for the fellow we saw was none other than Stromae!
Later that evening I read in the local news that Stromae was a guest at the ”Late Night with Seth Meyers” show to promote his second album and a single concert he gave on 20th June at the Best Buy Theater; and, apparently, he will be back in September on a U.S. tour that will include Philadelphia, Washington, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
What a wonderful coincidence, I thought… of all the artists and celebrities in the world that could have been invited to an NBC show on that particular day, it had to be one of Belgium’s brightest young things. And a Bruxellois, en plus!
If you don’t know yet whom I’m talking about, let me just mention that Stromae, born Paul Van Haver, is a Belgian singer-songwriter with a very distinctive personal and, by extension, musical style. Stromae is a syllabic inversion of ”Maestro”, using a technique called ”verlan”, a French tradition of inverting syllables to create a slang. The word ”verlan” is itself an inversion of ”l’envers” – pronounced ”lanver” and meaning back-to-front.
When I was a little girl in Greece, we used a similar technique to create our secret lingo aiming, quite successfully I might add, to sound incomprehensible to the adult ear. We did it by adding a syllable in-between those of a proper word, usually -ko. So, for example ”talented musician” would sound like talkoentkoedko mukosikocianko. I’m sure kids still use similar lingoes all over the world, what do you think?
But apart from his name, Stromae sings in perfect French; so don’t let language be a barrier – just get into the rhythm and dance along.
Here is Stromae’s smashing hit ”Alors on dance” that took Europe by storm in 2009-10:
And my personal favourite, ”Formidable”, filmed entirely with hidden cameras on a rainy day, in one of the busiest tram stations of the uptown centre of Brussels. Just watching people’s reactions and those coppers wishing him well, is priceless!
Back in New York, stepping inside the building, was equally rewarding: sleek 30’s Art Deco interior, in typical New York-style. Shiny dark floors and walls lit by brass details. Soft lighting complementing large murals in the lobby, staircases and corridors. Like in most places in New York, it felt like walking directly into a movie.
New York, 16th June 2014