dancing in the streets of Firenze

Image I have always wanted to travel to Florence, I watched a documentary about the Medici family many years back and wanted to walk the streets where the Renaissance was born ever since. Over the summer when I told friends and family where I was going to be in January through May, so many of them talked about the lazy, romantic days they had in Firenze. One farmer I know gave me ten dollars to buy cheese and told me to enjoy it in the sunshine on the cobbles. (I picked a Piedmont soft cheese, similar to Brie.) Finally coming here, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of everything, the delicious foods presented to me and casual attitude the space maintains even with so many artistic gems crammed together along the riverside. When I travel somewhere new, one of my favourite ways to meet people is to go dancing. I bring my heels with me like an ambassador to a foreign nation. Those turquoise tango heels allow me to meet people who live and work where ever I am. I’ve danced Argentine tango for the last five years. I learned how to in the basements of the University of Michigan, where when people would ask me what I was doing my degree in and I always replied I was planning on studying architecture (not letting on I was still in high school). While I was in Hungary I danced with the same characters night to night. The Magyars dance was flamboyant and showy, but grounded in the same traditions I had learned back home. Tango is everywhere and a girl with a computer can track down a milonga (tango dancing party) in minutes. Image And voilĂ ! Tango! Following the river, the halfway point between the milonga and the hostel was the tower before the stairs for Piazzale Michelangelo. I have not picked up enough Italian to be able to manage a conversation, especially one about dancing. Fortunately, tango has an official way of asking someone to dance without using words. It’s called the cabeceo, one partner looks around the room, trying to meet eyes with someone else they would like to dance with. If their eyes meet, then the woman gives a nod or a smile if she wants to dance with that man, and if he was looking to dance with her, then he will approach. Without knowing Hungarian, Italian or soon, Turkish, I can still get a dance. Image In Florence I danced with men with gestural, flashy styles. Think sweeping legs, kicks, sudden twists and quickly moving feet. It totally broke convention for tango. I can see the Italian culture just pouring out in the way that they dance. Everything is done with their hands, they tried to outdo each other on the floor, and the men I was dancing with never asked or invited me to any particular steps, instead the pushed me into that location. For me it was hilarious to see how Italians had taken a South American dance and made it entirely their own. Image On our way to the train station we ran into the best thing: break dancing youngings. There was a huge crowd in the piazza, a floor was set down and the speakers blasting killer beats. These young boys were battling with the crowd cheering on, spins and tricks instead of fists this time. Just Antonella like said, the life of the Italian city happens in the street, and their dancing too. Image

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