I went to see Googoosh in New York the other night. The concert was more like a collective roezeh khooni — a tearful cleansing bash, sort of like an EST meeting with 12,000 people crying all at once. Except there we all cried for one thing: Iran.
The music was not good. It never was. She didn't sing many of the old favorites and her new ones were neither very political nor that catchy. She looked good and sang well enough. But what was special for us was our hunger for any little gesture that would take us on a wave to the past.
It didn't matter that she didn't dance or forgot some of her lines. Our collective need was what took this concert beyond a Pop revival. No, this light pastiche of a concert, which loyal to Googoosh's tradition borrowed from all and became none, was about something larger. It was about sexuality and freedom and a place all of us remember to varying degrees as Iran.
It was about being able to let your bleached hair blow in the balmy summer nights of Tehran.
That night we cried because we would all rather have been listening to her in Tehran than in New York, or Toronto or Los Angeles. We screamed our throats dry in the collective hope of that happening some day. As if screams and tears — if sufficiently shed — could miraculously take us there.
This concert, and indeed Googoosh herself, was about women and music and their right to express their sexuality loudly through a microphone in a Thierry Mugler dress and still feel Iranian. It was a collective affirmation of our “Western struck” gharb-zadeh identity.
There we stood in Uniondale, New York, by the thousands and danced our hearts out in one huge gesture that said, “We, in all our multi-faceted cultural confusion, are one people.”
That Saturday night we all stood firmly on our two Iranian feet, in a puddle of tears, knowing, perhaps more than ever in these past twenty years, that yes, we are Iranians. Our common tears that night, baptized us so.