I like classical music. Johann Strauss is one of my favorite composers. This entry was meant to be filed under “Musical Tiramisu” series – my disposition always improves upon hearing a few notes of a Strauss’ waltz.
But there is a clear mental picture that often pops into my head when I’m listening to a waltz.
The waltz was an essential part of graduation ceremony for generations of Soviet high-school students. I can name quite a few popular songs of different eras that make a direct association between waltz and the end of one’s school years1.
Different schools did it differently, but for my graduation, several pupils were “volunteered” to dance on the stage of the assembly hall. Somehow, I was one of those designated to dance. Yep, yours truly, a fervent non-dancer. Must have been the combination of being one of the very few boys in the top tier of academic performance (in some ways, being selected was somewhat akin to being a valedictorian) and being not very hung up on exuding coolness (hey, I was popular, I had a steady girlfriend, I once performed in front of the whole school in a full matryoshka get-up – a bit of ballroom dancing could not subtract from my stature).
We did not practice to the sounds of Strauss, but rather to whatever recordings we had of the Soviet pop-scene waltzes. And the actual performance has long been overshadowed in my memory by the graduation night (see #22 at this link). But somehow whenever my ear catches one of Strauss’ divine melodies, I always vividly recall my then dance partner and me practicing our steps and twirls in an empty school hallway.
I still consider myself a pretty serviceable waltz dancer, even though I had no more than a couple of occasions to perform the feat since that graduation night.
Because this entry is not focused on a specific song, I had a wealth of clips to choose from. I decided on a relatively short one – it is set to one waltz that I am most likely to start humming to myself (although the dance here is considerably more elaborate than what I normally associate with waltzing).
1 In Russian language, you are no longer “in school” after you leave high school and go on to a higher-education establishment. The correct designation after that is в институте (“in an institute”) or в университете (“in a university”). At least, that is how it was in my times.