It went like this, out there on the basketball court:
Me: all-but imperceptible cool micro- nod of head, surreptitious eye contact, almost inaudible murmur: "Russia."
Russia: all-but-imperceptible cool micro-nod of head, surreptitious eye contact, almost inaudible murmur: "del Feld."
Insane raging out-of-control love-frenzy, eh? It's a beautiful thing.
That one night in St Petersburg...was heaven. That milonga made me happy to be alive. It reinstilled in me faith in humanity and gave me fresh hope in the universe.
There were tandas that were so beautiful that I felt a new thing: I didn't want to dance them, I wanted to sit, because I wanted to watch them. The level of dancing was crazy. It was gorgeous. It was soulful. It was artistic and heartfelt. It involved absolutely sick levels of technique you don't even see in many YouTube videos. The women in St P are, I find, more beautiful than in Moscow because fewer of them dye their hair--and the clothes were to-die-for understated chic...and I am embarrassed to admit that the overall level of genetic physical beauty was also absurdly high in both genders. What can I say, there's something about tall men with commanding presences and broad shoulders and cute butts frisking around in tight black shirts and baggy black pants...I remember watching one couple doing a Pugliese tanda and my entire being was riveted by their every moment, I could not breathe until it was over, and then I sighed audibly.... and best of all, at this best-of-the-best milonga of St P, there were three whole women who danced with their own beautiful voices. (They were also superb technically and physically beautiful and wearing "what oh just this thing" absolutely perfect clothes, because sometimes God bestows her gifts unequally.)
I haven't been so happy in a long time.
I danced and danced and every tanda was awesome. I danced playful tandas, smooth creamy clouds of deliciousness tandas, smart edgy hip tandas, sweet lush tandas, showy game-on tandas....
I chatted with my growing collection of new friends and made new new friends. I stayed out until 3 and then walked the 15 minutes home because St P is the safest city I've ever encountered and I am the most dangerous thing on its streets.
Then I took off my crown and fell into bed and thought, it's so easy when it's easy. When outside circumstances suit you, it's so easy to be beautifully happy....
The next day one of my new friends told me the reason that is the best milonga in town is because only the teachers dare go to it. Everyone else is intimidated. I told him it was a good thing I didn't know that—because it meant I just saw everyone as ordinary people and was able to enjoy myself!
St Petersburg, you are not my city. Moscow is my city. But I have to return to you some day and dance with your more-open, welcoming, superlatively skilled and soulful community. I have to return to my people.