David Calling

The David Pryce-Jones blog.

Dancing in the Street


Desperate times require desperate measures, to be sure, but it is rather a joke that Belgium is hoping to save itself by getting its citizens to dance on the streets of a dozen major cities.

The fact is that there are two populations, Flemings who are of Dutch origin and Walloons who are of French origin, and neither can stand the other. They both want out, the Flemings have even voted for it, and the break-up of this artificial country looms. In an eleventh-hour ploy, some bright spark has commissioned a pop song with alternate Dutch and French lyrics, and a lady called Maria-Clara Villa Lobos is choreographing how Belgians are to dance to this. (An expatriate from Brazil, she’s presumably a relation of Villa Lobos, that country’s most prominent composer.)

The dancing couples are supposed to be staging a mock fight, hitting one another with their elbows, only to kiss and make up. “We are different,” Marie-Clara says, “we are two people but can do things together.” These are strange times in Europe, of course, but can Belgians really be infantilized to this degree?


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