So, you say you're suffering from post seasonal distress disorder? Did your VISA bill arrive just as your significant other ran off with a 28-year-old salascise instructor? Or has your yuletide sugar high simply plunged as the January blues slide in?
Well my friends, I have found something better than chocolate, and almost as uplifting as a 28-year-old salsacise instructor. Namely -- the Joy of Strauss.
As I discovered recently, the Waltz King has a bit of a cult following. That's right, rather than plunge into freezing waters with polar bear swimmers, I joined a whole subsection of society who take in the New Year by attending an international Strauss orchestral love-in, otherwise known as Salute to Vienna.
Now nevermind that conductor Christian Schulz and soprano Patricia Nessy were the only real Viennese in the program (they were joined by Montreal-based tenor Marc Hervieux and the Strauss Symphony of Canada), as the maestro reminded the charmed audience at Vancouver's Orpheum Theatre, "we are all a little Viennese."
While I have to admit that the phrase "Ich bin ein Wiener" doesn't quite carry the same clout as JFK's famous cold war line about Berlin, I have become a rather enthusiastic Wienerin after the January 1 concert, that also featured a troupe of sylph-like dancers (the Kiev-Aniko Ballet of the Ukraine) performing waltzes and polkas.
After all, there's a different kind of cold war at work these days in Vancouver -- a city noted in a recent study as a place where citizens suffer from a terrible sense of isolation.
And so, in this age of tweets, when it's easier to find someone on Facebook than to meet up in person, I'd like to suggest that the waltz could become a radical new intervention. It's a dance that requires not only human contact, but also grace, style, and a fabulous ball gown! (well, ok, at least something that swirls. Tails are optional for boys -- but always the dashing choice.)
Strauss enjoyed pop star status in his day, and while it may seem like musical Prozac today, the waltz had its own rebellious rock 'n roll moment. An invention of the 17th-century Austrian court, it was banned by the German church in 1760 for being "undignified."
My friends, have you been to a nightclub lately? (I was, and quite recently too, searching of course for that elusive 28-year-old salsacise instructor.) The dirty dancing moves are matched only by a dramatic lack of eye contact. The phrase "gyrating automatons" springs to mind (as it so often does).
I predict a 2012 comeback for the waltz. Just like hand-written letters and hardcover books, it hearkens back to a more elegant era, when in addition to hand-eye co-ordination and a decent sense of rhythm, social graces were required.
By communing with Strauss, I hope to enter the New Year with a more serene attitude -- or at the very least, better posture.
Forget religion -- waltzing could well become the new opiate of the masses. Perhaps I'll initiate a worldwide WWSD movement: What Would Strauss Do? When faced with a particular challenge -- i.e. the collapse of the European Union, the end of the world, or say your Visa bill arriving just as your current flame runs off with that 28-year-old, pea-brained but flat-stomached salsacise instructor -- do you 1) drown your sorrows with vodka and chocolate? 2) make tiny voodoo dolls of your ex or 3) put on a ball gown and waltz around living room (after choosing options 1 and 2)?
Actually, this may just be revolutionary. Forget the Occupy Movement, the Strauss Waltz Effect (SWE) could be the next big thing.
World going to hell in a hand basket? Turn off the BBC news and put on the Blue Danube. You'll feel much better, really, you will. Now Repeat after me, "1,2,3, ...1,2,3,...1,2,3..."