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I now also danced forró and bolero.

I was given the chance to have a glimpse at these dances at a recent crash course. Essentially, forró is a folklore version of salsa and bolero (or at least the 4/4 version we danced) is at the beginner’s level identical to rumba.

In fact, I unfortunately missed the first half of the course, which covered forró. But although the teacher insisted that forró had nothing to do with salsa, another experienced dancer also agreed with my opinion. More importantly, I could simply dance a “joyful salsa variant” with other students of the class, who where completely unaware that I was actually not dancing forró. So clearly these dances cannot be too different.

On youtube there are videos both for forró and for bolero.

If you don’t know what the Hospitality Club is, then you’ve never spoken to me for more than 10 minutes. So I’ll just state without explanation that I spent two nights at Jan’s place in Würzburg, although I had never met Jan before in my whole life.

To me this was both an inspirational, but also an educational stay. In particular, I finally “understood” parkour. Once before somebody had told me about this sport, or rather attitude, but I don’t remember who and in which circumstances. So, although I still knew the name and I later remembered a few details, it was still essentially new to me.

Anyways. Parkour. A “sport” invented in France by David Belle. A sport without any competitions or formally organized structure. More of an attitude. More of an art. Be free. Escape. Have a strong mind. Have a strong body. In other words: Yamakasi. Probably best explained by watching a video.

A beautiful winter (or spring?) day, a nice lake and my running gear. That’s all it takes to make Ingmar happy.

I really enjoy running reasonably long distances (20km) but fairly slowly (2h). You feel, you see, you hear, but you don’t really think coherently. You just run.

You observe things. Birds, the water, the light, people. The atmosphere changes. For 1-2 km you’re on a crowded esplanade, then you’re in a bit of forest.  You just run. You hear pieces of conversations, you try to interpret facial expressions and you just run.

You’re not actively searching or waiting for anything. Things just come to you and you acknowledge them without judging them or holding on to them.

Your mind is open and relaxed, but not focussed on anything. You just run.

Try it. But be sure to pace yourself and to run as slowly as possible. You’ll be surprised how far you can get.

Today I went to Bern. This was planned.

There was a loooong carnival parade. This was not planned, at least not by me, but probably by the participants. You can see some pictures here (at the bottom). [Actually, I still don’t quite understand why this carnival is held during Lent, the season of fasting and prayer in the Christian calendar. At least in Germany carnival is held just before.]

So far the only time I had seen a carnival parade in my life was in Mainz last year. (And this I how I looked then.) So I’m certainly not a carnivaligist, or whatever carnival experts are called.

Overall, it was fairly similar: Lots and lots of people in costumes parading. Still, it was interesting to try to spot the differences.

What I liked in Bern was that there were more carnival groups with music, actually at least 60% of the groups were marching bands in costume. [Btw, there seems to be a serious niche market for easy-to-play marching bands songs. The 30 bands or so which we saw shared a repertoire or about 10 songs, including Marmor, Stein und Eisen bricht.]

But two things were certainly missing: The Tanzmariechen and the Kamelle.

Two costume ideas I liked best:

First, a dress with a train which could be lifted up just like the tail of a pheasant. Pretty strong and surprising effect.

Second, well, that was actually not so much the costume but the “meta idea”. Most carnival groups try to dress up in identical costumes. All “individuality” is lost in favor of the group identity and the combined visual effect. But one group had found a good compromise. From the front they were all identical, but on their back they had personalized messages. Anything from a simple smiley to “Your ad could be here”. [… actually this gave me the idea of printing a t-shirt with the slogan “A clever slogan could be printed here” … A phrase which denies its own existence …]

Another small difference was that they had lots of confetti which you could also buy in plastic bags to throw at your fellow bystanders, or maybe to mark the way back to your home ala Hansel and Gretel.

So, all happy, happy, joy, joy? Well, mostly.

Except for one hate-fomenting group who, not surprisingly, was run by my favorite Swiss party, the SVP.

In case you’re not familiar with the whole “kick the black sheep out” hate campaign of the SVP, this picture might not evoke any immediate strong feelings in you. It shows a slaughtered black sheep, served as a dinner to a happy white sheep.

“Of course”, the “black” in “black sheep” is just a metaphor for illegal doings, and any associations with skin colors would be purely incidental. [That’s what the party claims.] Just as the severed head is probably to be taken as a metaphor for the spiritual problems caused by a separation between mind and body.

“On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin’ music with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again,
And I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

(A famous country song and one of the favorites of my father.)

Today, after a period of abstinence of 5 months, I finally took out my road bike again for a stroll of 75km. Though it felt as if I was getting frostbites on my toes, the weather was still fantastic and I really enjoyed my first ride this year.

Most impressive sight of the day: a 70+ year old man who was swimming in a very relaxed manner in the Lac Leman. (I think the water has about 6-8°C.)

Most beautiful sight: cycling along the lake with the snow-covered mountains in the background. I forget far too often, how beautiful the landscape here is!

Think Matrix. Think Ninjas. Think Nunchaku. Think Larvel Jones sound effects.

Now you have all the ingredients for a very creative club juggling act for two professional jugglers. Seen in the current vaudeville show at the GOP. One of the most creative juggling acts I’ve ever seen.

Je vous présente: Jacqueline!

On this picture she’s only a few days old, but look at how she’s already walking!

I know, I know, I mentioned this already, but La Marmite was really a whole lot of fun.  Some more pictures taken on that day in Geneva you can find here (close to the bottom).

Today, I made dozens, if not hundreds of people smile or laugh for a few seconds. An exhilarating feeling.

All the cheers: “Génial!”, “Très originel!”, “C’est drôle, ça!”, “Regarde comme elle marche!” And, of course, just their laughs and smiles.

I’ll upload some pictures of Jacqueline, Sylvia and me next week, but I can already tell you know that “La Marmite” was a fantastic experience!! I’m really, really glad we participated!

Tomorrow I’ll finally meet Jacqueline. I’ll try to make her do exactly what I want.  🙂

Jacqueline is the “daughter” of Sylvia and all three of us will participate in the La Marmite at the Course de l’Escalade.

“La Marmite” is just fun run over 3.4 km … in costume. We’ll all put on funny/silly cloths and have Jacqueline in our middle. Jacqueline, in case you haven’t realized yet, is a life-size puppet. So we’ll try to make it look as if there are 3 runners, although there are really only two. We’ll see how this goes.  🙂


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