1 January 2013

A country called Tango

My first tango efforts were made in Jekteviken, Bergen some years ago. As most beginners at, well, anything, I had high hopes of mastering the art quickly. When the beginners' course was completed, black dresses would be donned, red roses would be put behind ears and drama would prevail.

After the first class, I had realised that 1) this tango thing was somewhat different from what I had visualised and 2) it was an undertaking that wouldn't be completed in a jiffy. A quitter should, normally, have been in the making.

But, against all odds, this turned out to become the first and only enterprise that I've insisted on sticking to even if it's making me feel more useless than successful. There's this Friedrich von Schiller quote: "Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens" ("Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain"). It's been several years, and I'm still, stubbornly, trying to figure out this tango thing.

Actually - as you may also have realised since you're reading a tango blog - this tango thing is more than a thing. It's a whole country.

It's the dance form itself, deceivingly easy in its description: "you only need three steps: forward, side, back".

It's your body, it's other people's bodies. Shapes and sizes and smells.

It's the music: lots and lots of orchestras and singers and styles. Thousands of recordings. Scratching and whining and old-fashioned arrangements and lyrics you don't understand.

It's more than one hundred years of history that you don't know - not properly, thoroughly.

It's a community with all kinds of rules - written, unwritten, discussed by all kinds of people with all kinds of backgrounds.

It's tradition and transition, it's polarities and passionate Facebook debates.

It's uniformity and individualism, collectivity and egoism.

It's things to love and things to resent.

The tango thing is a country, and we're all immigrants.

This blog will be a travel journal written by one tango immigrant. As is the case with most journeys: things may have been seen by others before, but not by all. I hope you'll see something new on these pages.