Monday, 10 August 2009

Tango and Dreams

It seems strange to me, even perverse, that though I spend a lot of time in tango I have never, ever, in four and a half years dreamed about tango. If I spend so much time with it maybe there's no need, but it occurred to me that I do dream about landscapes I no longer live in. I used to work 3,000 feet up in the Himalayan foothills, and I had friends 7,500 feet up in a 'hill' station. The road between climbed a mile, along 25 miles of twisting stomach-churning switch-back grind in old buses. There was a path, too, which I used whenever I had time: a five-mile walk to climb a mile. It took a few hours, from the heavy summer heat below up into cool fresh air, or vice-versa and, either walking up or down, for me it's still the best walk in the world. & I don't recall ever dreaming once about it while I was there, but I do now. It's become a metaphor, a dream-world visual shorthand for difficulty, anxiety, with cheerfulness and comfort at the end of it. A few years back I had a bit of 'flu, or a seriously bad cold that went on for a weary long time, and I dreamed of struggling up that hill and getting to the top. I knew the moment I woke up that I was better.

This seems to tie in with thoughts about other people's tango stories. They are the real thing, but they aren't mine; the meaning I was told is in relation to the way other people see their lives. It's possible to compose a collection of other peoples' stories but it doesn't seem a very interesting or even honourable thing to do. What is interesting is to find something in those stories that is mine, and to make something out of that, in the same way that distance makes a hill climb into a metaphor rather than a 'real' thing.

All of this comes together after last Friday at Carablanca, a great evening because I enjoyed some good dancing, but also because I heard some extraordinary stories. There was also a demonstration which amazed me by the amount of arm-wrestling, his left to her right, something I'd been warned against from my first lesson onwards. It was also extraordinary for how busy and inelegant the dance actually looked, in contrast to the calm elegance of the music. I'm a bit sorry I didn't bother to film it, as I'd love to remove the tango tracks and try replacing them with... perhaps the sound of all-in wrestling? The groans, the cries, the cheers... Just out of curiosity. Soundtracks are so much the key to how we see film, it's always curious to consider changing them. That spooky corridor could become gentle and happy, and that tango performance could look quite different to a different soundtrack.

&, in the context of watching Ashes of Time, perhaps a milonga could be filmed in terms of the dance and all the fragmented narratives around it.

2 comments:

londontango said...

I LOVE listening to other people's Tango stories, especially the one on what it means to them. I have even had arguments with people (not intentionally) because my feelings about Tango may have been so different to thiers. I love how passionate people can be about Tango.
I never dream about it either. Maybe I might if I ever stop doing it?

Tangocommuter said...

I think I prefer the real thing to dreaming about it!