Traveling – Turkish Delights in Istanbul, as of may 2014

Istanbul
Istanbul

Many of my follower friends told me about *the* turkish guys, about their embrace, and that going to Istanbul for followers is like going to Moscow for leaders. In march we ended up planning our trip, my swedish friend and me, just to go to Istanbul to do girlie stuff and to dance at regular milongas.

Turkish airlines sold me a cheap ticket – it’s easy, no frills, but you can take up to 30 kg of luggage with you, in as many bags as you wish (just take all your shoes with you and decide later which to wear), and you will get nice food while traveling – all included in the basic fare. You need to know that the queue for turkish airlines is the longest at the airport, but I had plenty of time and anyway all managed to get in.

At the time we planned our trip we did not know that there would be a festival, and we surely did not know about the bad mining accident in soma. Unfortunately we arrived on thursday and all tango related events were cancelled because of that tragedy. Changing our plans we ended up in a wonderful turkish dinner, 5 girls with a big plate of meat for 5 pax. And don’t even think there would have been leftovers! No! Very delicious food …

Turkish Tea at the waterfront, Istanbul
Turkish Tea at the waterfront, Istanbul

Strange for a foreigner like me: lots of police men on the pedestrian street and around, and when the street cleaning machine went by we started to cough and our eyes were burning. Wonder why? Tear gas remains on the streets ….

You want to watch a tango video on YouTube and get only a white screen with some turkish and english text, that a certain administration act is valid. Means: YouTube is blocked by the government …. and it feels very strange if you don’t know if you can go to the milonga, because you look out of your hotel window and see young men running, police guys following and firing with tear gas. Advice of my new turkish friends: don’t be frightened, just ignore them. Ok, when it comes to riots and tear gas I personally am out, but ignoring the just waiting hundreds of police man I might learn.

On friday and saturday we finally went for dancing at a festival, because the other milongas were canceled except a daytime practica, which we missed because of breakfast feast and the following inability to think about something else than a bed and getting a nap. (If u ever go there, make sure you at least once get a full turkish breakfast. It’s amazing!)

On both evenings the venue was not crowded, there were not so many potential dance partners, the energy was somehow low, and the mood was rather dejected than energetic. But I saw a good balance of leaders and followers, with slightly more girls at certain times, but without a significant lack of the ones or the others.

And although most of my new turkish friends stated that I choose a very “unlucky” weekend for my first visit to Istanbul – I have to confess that I am hooked. Yes, turkish guys are amazing dancers. Yes, their embrace is often heavenly. Yes, they look good. Yes, it’s fun to dance with them, and hmmm, I think I don’t know any girl who does not like turkish dancers.

One of my friends told me a good expression for the things you will find here: the average turkish guy is a better dancer than the average european guy, and the average european girl dances better than the average turkish girl. My experience of 2 nights: I declined only one dance, accepted all other requests, and did not regret it. My “worst” tanda here I’d consider a good one on my home milonga and even in an average marathon. My best dances here – omg! I will come back. I want more!

Why? The turkish embrace (if there is one and you allow me the generalization) is in between the sometimes very soft and a bit lacking of passion “european embrace” and the Argentinian “girl now you are mine” pressure method of embracing. For me really comfortable. Technically they were all pretty good, nobody pulls or pushes you out of balance, and especially I did not find any stiff arms, so nobody will make your arm or shoulder or back hurt while dancing. And this is the case even for dancers with not so much experience. I felt a very well-developed musicality, a smiling and bursting creativity in moves and – yes – the pure joy of holding a woman in their arms. The turkish guys I danced with: took really good care about their followers and worked hard to please them, made them looking good, and at the same time enjoyed “the ride” themselves to the fullest.

City View
City View

(The rules and codigos are more or less the same like in Europe or Buenos Aires, except that it’s normal that a guy often walks to the girl and asks verbally for a dance, even in the middle of a tanda. If he and you liked it, he will most probably ask for one more tanda, and this can be repeated a couple of times (no big deal here, no conclusions about it from spectators). He might even come back to you later at night for another set of tandas (especially if it’s not a big event with many people).)

Conclusion: my dear follower friends – come to Istanbul! Meet me there!

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