Monday, January 3, 2011


How does a blog about Finland cover a holiday trip to Argentina? With a discussion of the tango of course!

Chris, at the top, is probably the closest thing to a Finn at this tango show. He is so stiff he scarcely has joints. Michel, my brother-in-law, being a Belgian, has a little more flair. Both knees are slightly bent.

Chris, Sophia and I headed way south to visit our nieces-now residents of the beautiful city of Buenos Aires. I will post holiday pictures at my other blog that you can find here, but for this blog I will focus on the tango.

We went to a tango show in Buenos Aires and were impressed with the athleticism of the dancing. The dancers pressed tightly together and their feet flew in quick kicks between their partner's legs or around their partner's body.

The history of tango is said to come from the louche underbelly of 1880s Buenos Aires. One web site reports that the dance represented the relationship between a prostitute and a pimp. The bandoneon, like an accordion, was adapted from Germany and became the instrument for the tango.

By the turn of the 20th century, Argentina had the 6th largest economy in the world. Argentina's influence as a world power spread the tango to Europe where it became the latest rage. Maybe the tango craze has diminished in the rest of Europe, but it remains extremely popular in - ta dah!- Finland.

According the this article from the Christian Science Monitor, the tango invaded Finland in 1913 and by the 1930s Finns were composing their own lyrics for the tango. The melancholy lovelorn yearning of the tango fit in perfectly with the Finnish language.

Perhaps the most famous Finnish tango is Satumaa. It was even performed by Frank Zappa!

There’s a land beyond the vast sea
Where waves wash on the shores of happiness
Where beautiful flowers always blossom
Where worries of tomorrow can be forgotten

Oh if once I could go to that fairytale land
Never would I leave from there like a bird
But without wings I cannot fly, I’m a prisoner of ground
Only in thoughts that reach so far can I ever there be

And now- I highly recommend watching this entire clip of Morley Safer in Finland. I don't know how old it is (the currency is pre-Euro), but it is informative and amusing! P.S. I think the Finnish radio announcer is poking fun at us--the U.S.! And to follow, a Kaurismäki clip of Satumaa. You can never watch too much Kaurismäki.

1 comment:

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