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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Silk Road Tango

If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.-- Alphonse de Lamartine

I have always had a fascination with Orientalism, the Silk Road, the Spice Route. Places well traveled by explorers, traders, pirates and armies. Lost cities and rediscovered ruins. Places where East and West came together and shared cultures and arts, but where they also clashed and struggled. Although the original Oriental Express stopped service last year, I still travel it in my imagination.

I have already been to one city on the Silk Road: Venice. And one city on the Orient Express: Paris.

I am wondering if my next trip will be to another place I've always dreamed of visiting along that fabled route: Istanbul.

I did not realize until lately that Istanbul has such a vibrant tango community, although my dreams of going to Turkey have been around for much longer than I've been dancing tango. However, I do have to admit that would be icing on the cake.

I just found this beautiful video of two dancers--
Celine Ruiz and Damian Rosenthal, more inspiring dancers that now I must follow and watch for--filmed at a tango festival last year in Istanbul.

Tangoing along the Silk Road
: it sounds too good to be true! (If any of you have danced in Istanbul, please let me know...even if I can't go yet, it will help me build my daydream database.)

Photo courtesy of National Geographic.


Tango March 7, 2008 at 3:52 AM  

Judging by my own experience I can tell you that Istambul has a really high level of dancing. Every single person from Istambul who I danced with failed to disappoint me. Isn't Murat from there?

Psyche March 7, 2008 at 6:31 AM  

Istanbul's on my travel wish list too, both for its remarkable archetypical self, and because my great-grandfather's buried there - he died of blood poisoning the day before he was going to be shipped home.

There are several really excellent dancers from Istanbul here at the moment. It does seem to be a tango hotspot!

Damian and Celine are doing Desafios Maestros on Tuesday, so that should be really interesting.

tangobaby March 7, 2008 at 1:38 PM  

Hi Tango,

I'm glad to hear that about your experience. I have admired Murat from afar, so if the people there dance anything like him, I'll be very happy!

Hola Psyche,

How are you? What's happening with you in BA?

That is a wild story about your great-grandfather. I hope he enjoyed himself before the end.

Maybe you can do some research on Istanbul for both of us, and we can meet there some special day. Explore the city by day and dance at night.

Psyche March 7, 2008 at 11:43 PM  

That would be cool! But I suspect it may be easier to meet in San Francisco... The big news at my end is that I'm coming to the States for a bit - probably to Portland. It's getting too damn cold here already, and the buildings here really aren't designed to cope with it.

Maryam in Marrakesh March 8, 2008 at 3:33 AM  

You and I share a love and desire to go to the same places! Have you posted a podcast of you dancing? I want to see!

paris parfait March 8, 2008 at 12:59 PM  

I was reading earlier today about Marco Polo's adventures on the Silk Road (Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino). And I think dancing the tango anywhere - but especially in points abroad - must be quite wonderful!

paris parfait March 8, 2008 at 1:00 PM  

Silly me - and after I left my comment, I glanced over and noticed you have Invisible Cities on your Goodreads list!

Mark Andersen March 9, 2008 at 1:34 AM  

Oh, how I wish I'd already danced tango in Istanbul. I was there in the late '90s, but it was before I danced tango. But you'll love it when you go & save plenty of time for the Blue Mosque--one of the most stunningly beautiful buildings in the world.

tangobaby March 10, 2008 at 7:16 PM  

Dear Psyche,

Woo hoo! I hope you'll find a day to spend in SF. I'd love to take you around. Please keep me apprised of your plans.


Hello Maryam,

Then you and I should plan to meet up there someday. My when-I-go (not if-I-go) should probably include a trip to Peacock Pavillions, too. Just to check in, although I may never check out.

There is one video of me dancing on my blog and if you find it, you can watch it. I'm too self-conscious to point it out. You should watch my other tango videos as they are much more beautiful than anything I could ever do. Keep in mind that many of the videos you see on my blog are improvised dances. That is the beauty of the language of tango.

Hello Paris Parfait,

I loved Venice sooo much. I really wanted to get into Invisible Cities, and I got the concept and the feeling of the book, but I couldn't stick with it. I guess I should go back to Venice and then give the book another try.

Hi Mark,

When I am ready to go, then you and I are going to have a conversation about Istanbul and I am going to pick your brain. But now it sounds like since you loved it so much, tango would be a perfect incentive for you to go back again.