I am sitting in a cafe, writing my final of the 4 stories in 4 weeks. I have an incredibly large coffee and my equally large earphones on. I am listening to music, and there is a smile on my face, which matches the coffee and the earphones in size. The smile is because this story actually cheers me up. It contains the qualities of fun, spontaneity and excitement, all achieved during an every-day moment.
This story is about my friend Boris. I met Boris several years ago when he moved to Edinburgh. His daughter and mine have been in the same class/ year at school for seven years now, and they are friends. He is a very sociable person, always stops to chat, and aways has interesting things to chat about. Although we do not spend a lot of time together, I do always feel I can talk to him about most anything, and he makes me feel at home. Maybe this is because there are similarities between his Jewish and my Greek upbringing… or maybe just his Jewish and my Greek mother. In any case, he is a very warm people person.
Boris is a Reader in the department of Informatics at Edinburgh University. This, in layman’s terms, means he is an Associate Professor. To be brutally honest I do not have a full understanding of what he does exactly. But I believe It is something to do with server architecture and improving the efficiency of large data storing systems (datacentres). I reserve the right to be utterly wrong here and am most open to being corrected. I do know that he travels all around the world to conduct and present his research, and has received many honours for his work.
The above alone would be enough to find Boris inspiring. But if all that was not enough, in his spare time, Boris is a creative writer, host of the Writing Club for kids (and any parents who also fancy writing, of which I am one). He also reads, skateboards, and dances the tango. He has been dancing the tango for many years. I recall hosting his daughter overnight when he and his daughter’s mum – the beautiful Gaya – were off to a tango marathon. I remember thinking at the time – how amazing and how fun that they make time to dance. I was delighted to facilitate such a great pass time.
The story I want to share with you stems from Boris’ passion for the tango. One summer some years ago, Boris was in Hong Kong for 3 months for work. While there, he naturally joined a tango society or club, and frequently danced. At some point, while talking to one of his dancing partners, they discovered that they were going to be at Hong Kong airport at the same time. She was arriving on a flight from Doha, and he was boarding that same flight to depart. As he told me the story, he recalled that he and this lady both just thought “ Well, we have to do something about this. We have to dance!” He had a smile on his face when he was telling me, and he also remembered that the lady was “a beautiful dancer”. He continued to tell me about how he planned to go to the gate early so as not to miss her. Once she arrived, she greeted him quickly and rushed off to the toilet where she changed into a tango dress and shoes. He then put on some music on his phone, and they proceeded to dance. He showed me a video that he took, by balancing his phone on a chair at the gate. The lady wore a beautiful royal blue dress and she was indeed a beautiful dancer. They danced two or three songs, just there, at the gate, while some people were rushing past to catch their flights and others were sitting watching them. You could tell by how synchronised they were, that they had danced together before. You could also tell that they were having so much fun, despite – I assume- feeling a little nervous. Boris says they were laughing throughout. At the end, some people applauded. The lady went on her way, and Boris got on the flight, on which he was later to be asked by a member of the crew if he offered airport tango lessons. When he came home from the trip and told the story at the writing club he was beaming.
I was so enthused when I heard the story. What do I love about it? I love the fact that they danced. I love the fact that they identified an opportunity and their immediate response was “ we have to dance.” I love that she changed into a dress and shoes, and did not let feelings of nervousness or embarrassment stop her. I love that the people at that gate got to watch a beautiful dance that day. It just fills me with joy and a sense of fun, and brings a smile to my face.
It appears that Boris and his dance partner are not alone in dancing the tango at the airport. Fellow tango enthusiast Steve Slavsky has formed a facebook group called “Stranded At An Airport, Tango Meet-up”. He formed the group while he was stranded at Chicago airport. You can learn more about it here. The group now has more than 16 thousand members who have joined in order to make the most of opportunities to dance together, while waiting at an airport. I also discovered that some people practice the ‘goodbye tango’ at airports. This is where couples choose to say goodbye to each other before parting, by dancing the tango. Here is a couple at Larnaca airport in 2016, and another one at Tegel airport in Berlin in 2011.
Finding out about all these Tangueros and Tangueras (Spanish work meaning she/ he loves tango music/ dancing) has made me even more enthused about Boris’ tango story. The last couple of years have been difficult, stressful, and strenuous in so many ways. I have found them to be isolating, lacking in connection, and disheartening. I have felt like I had no resilience left on more than one occasion. But just remembering Boris’ tango story puts a smile on my face. Because after all, when things are tough, there is always music. There is always dancing. There is always the tango. In concluding this blog post, and my 4 stories in 4 weeks, I think I need to take a leaf out of Boris’ book, and find opportunities to dance again.
Photo of me and my husband Iain at our wedding party, dancing to Por Una Cabeza: one of my absolute favourite life moments.