Life berlin


G has loaned me a nice rolling weekend case so I travel with dignity. I really wanted to avoid the backpack, and what with my sleeping blanket, four outfits, yoga mat, and angel wings for the Tango Heaven Dresden marathon, even the trusty capacities of the Freitag messenger bag was overloaded.


I have with me goat cheese cucumber sandwiches on Danish-style full-of-seeds bread. And blueberries, cherries, and strawberries from a shop where a graduate in cultural studies seeks products from her parents’ farm and other local farms.

Yesterday I had my first German meal, spinach ricotta ravioli, but much different in style from Italian ravioli. First the pasta dough was layered. Second the filling was so rich that I had the impression of eating veal.  Finally. It was gently fried! Three of these plus a little salad made for a wonderful meal.


Followed by a truly sublime Portuguese tart.


Which was a good thing because I didn’t eat again.

We had been to the David Bowie exhibit at the Martin Gropius Bau.


First time for me in such a modern exhibit with sensitive audio broadcast that faded in a new track as you approached different parts of the exhibit. I am always so grateful for biographical materials like this exhibit which remind me that there is no time to make safe choices. And artists’ primary responsibility is to trust themselves in a hostile environment.

I would never say that I was a fan of Bowie’s music, which the exhibit caused me to appreciate more. But I was definitely influenced by his aesthetic. Along with Grace Jones, Bowie defined an eminently elegant androgyny. What I didn’t know was how courageous he had been in occupying such a space, and indeed throughout his career as he has continually allowed his artistic vision to take precedence over any other concern. A costume could be unwieldy but he gushed ‘it was everything I wanted it to be.” Undeterred by unfruited plans (like the film of Diamond Dogs), he barreled along into new projects.

He defended long-haired men from harassment in the 1960s, he was a prompt environmentalist in response to the first photos of earth from space, he became a gender warrior, and throughout stood forth for inventing oneself without heed to propriety.

I think from now on I can just say “David Bowie didn’t wear platform shoes to be taller. We wear them for the style!”

I enjoyed the handwritten lyrics from his archives – including the original poetry of one line from which he later eliminated a few words (I prefer the original).

“We’ve got 5 years [to cry in]

The earth is dying.”

I rearrange my appointment with V to meet at the 19:00 tango class. Thinking we would then have a nice dinner and relaxed time before the night’s milonga. Which milonga it would be, I don’t know, because HJ was sending emails about it, Aurélie was writing to me on fb, and I was sending text messages. Only the people trying to coordinate but still difficult if each one uses a different mode of communication.

This trip is oddly both like and unlike a tango trip to BsAs. Unlike in that in Berlin it is possible to make friends, which is just impossible there. The women preemptively hate one another and the men are only interested in business and/or sex. Here I have connected with people around our values. It’s also different in that summer in Berlin is precious to the Berliners. They are absolutely committed to languidly enjoying every ray of sunshine, eating as many ice creams as possible and sitting in sidewalk cafes for the maximum portion of the day, which gives a lot of chances as it is light until nearly 2130. This means that the city has a deliberate tranquility and happiness, which contrasts with the frantic chaos of BsAs.

Nevertheless, I am exhausted from walking too much, don’t have time to eat, and after waking with the perception of impatiently waiting for the night’s milonga, find myself arriving late because I am never ready to go yet at 2200 so I arrive after 2300, which is ok for weekend milongas going to 0300 or 0400. But a bit late on the weeknights with only 0130.

Yesterday somehow a tango class starting at 1900 finally released me from the sidewalk conversation at 2150. My friends are already at the milonga. I go in my practice clothes. No dinner.


Silences in history. Silences by code. Silences of fear. You already know that Tango’s silences can be sublime and they can be devastating.

What I do in my blog is use myself as a lens – sometimes a microscope, sometimes a telescope. I try to be as honest with myself and you as words concede. Then I try to find a deeper meaning and imagine a pathway for us.

A blog post can be a fragment, a wisp of inspiration, an outline for thinking. A book must complete and reconcile it all. Now I drag the social scientist to the scene to enumerate the facts of the case, the mystery which brought both stardom and tragedy to my life.

I invite you to join my resolution to take a look at the dark silences of Argentine Tango in our lives. It’s time.


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