The Marathon

Said one dancer: “You see a perfect stranger and ask her ‘May I have this dance?’ Then, in the following ten or twenty minutes, you speak without words, you move as one, you are the two closest persons on earth. And then you switch partners.” Last November some 200 dancers from all over Europe met in Bergen, Norway, to share the intimacy of strangers for three consecutive days. This was a marathon – a tango marathon – but there was no prize except the dance itself. The marathon differs from other tango events in that there are no professional couples. Or rather: they might be professionals, but this is their spare time spent dancing. There are no shows, no exhibition dances. Few are interested in watching others - they are here to participate, to dance - all day and night.

Dancing is communication. Dancing with new partners is learning new languages. Doing this for an entire weekend with only short breaks while pushing your limits as a dancer is what a tango marathon is all about. But this is no competition. This is not endurance for endurance sake. These are not ultra runners running for 24 or 48 hours straight just because they are able to. The marathon dancers are dancing 18 hours a day because the dance expresses differently and the mood varies according to the level of fatigue. Being one among 100 couples at nine PM is not the same as being the last couple on the floor when the clock is closing in on six AM. In the words of another dancer: “There are five stages of sleep - and a dance to replace each of them.”

Music by Combo Tango.