Istanbul. A love story about life & dancing

You want the lips and the curves, need the whips and the furs
 And the diamonds I prefer, and my closet his and hers,
 He want the lil' mamacita, margarita
 - Cardi B - South Of The Border


   Your nails are long and colourful and you storm in the breakfast buffet area laughing, ‘LOOK, I BROUGHT DOMINIC!!!’, and while we eat, your laughter fills the room and we’re so tired and maybe drunk but maybe we’re not drunk anymore. Dominic adjusts his glasses and says ‘your grandmother must have been very beautiful’. Dominic is a very good dancer.  I eat breakfast pasta with scrambled eggs and bacon and I don’t know when all that gin left my body. 

In my head, I live in a palace. 

My feet hurt. 


During the afternoon, I boastfully announce I am going to the boardwalk to read and/or look at the sea. I imagine seagulls attacking me and the wind blowing strongly. I promptly fall asleep and so do you. Your hair is long and blonde and beautiful and you’ve been hating it recently, but this is just us girls. I used to hate my hair before as well.

When we wake up, Oliver waits for us in the lobby ‘WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN, I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU AT THE BOARDWALK’, but we yawn in our pyjamas and say we’re out of gin and who the fuck bought all that Sprite anyway and we’re off to the supermarket. We buy Turkish gin and Turkish tonic water and I find two dogs outside the shop. I pet them and they promptly follow us back to the hotel.

Dogs usually follow me wherever I go. This is something all friends I’ve had since I was 4 years old found out sooner or later. As I discovered early in life, not everybody loves dogs. This I found to be very strange.


In the evenings, we play music loudly in our room, while we start drinking and doing our make up. I think Lana Del Rey’s ‘Bartender‘ is the best song I’ve heard this year. 

I give you my foundation and I take your mascara. Clumpy mascara is the best. I have big round eyes and naturally long lashes, and for a very long time I did not know what to do with that because, if I apply heavy mascara, I tend to look a bit surprised and slutty. This has worked fine for me in the past, so now I love clumpy mascara. 

We mix cheap Turkish gin with cheap Turkish tonic in the white hotel mugs and it is the best drink I’ve ever had. I put on my animal print top and my new dance heels and we’re off to the party.


Earlier that day, I bought the most beautiful dance shoes in the world.

You were all the way downtown by yourself, which I wasn’t comfortable with (‘TEXT ME WHEN YOU GET THERE’. ‘GIVE ME THE EXACT ADDRESS’. ‘WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL THE CLEANING LADY WE’RE OUT OF SOAP?’ ‘WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO BE BACK?’ ‘WHAT DID WE DO WITH ALL THE SOAP?’ ’THE YELLOW BRA LOOKS STUPID!’ ), so I had to buy the shoes under strict male supervision. That consisted of our friend Oliver telling me ‘they’re very nice’ and offering an approving nod, which I considered to be the male equivalent of ‘THESE ARE THE BEST SHOES EVER’. 


Men don’t like pretty things per se, like shoes, or dresses. But give them context, like taking that dress off, or seeing the shoes on you and then looking up and down your legs and everything changes. But it’s never really about the shoes.

I love my new shoes. I don’t think i loved something this much in a very long time.


We take the elevator to the main floor. There are three huge party ballrooms, one is for salsa (which I don’t really like), one is for bachata (which I love) and one is for kizomba (which I’m not very familiar with). The bachata room is golden and, in that light, it looks like a Great Gatsby set. Everybody is beautiful, everybody is a great dancer, everybody’s perfume smells like everybody else’s dreams.

I love smells. I have a better sense of smell than most people I know and, because of a great olfactory memory, I can identify a very large number of scents. This is both a gift and a problem, which is usually what happens when you know more about various topics than other people.


A tall Turkish man in a suit and tie takes me to the dancefloor. He is a great dancer.

Of course, there is no definition for that, but to me, a great dancer pays attention to the partner and adapts to her body tension, her movements and her rhythm. I have always been surprised by men saying that dancing is not masculine. There are few things sexier and more masculine than a man who knows how to lead. 

My second dance is not as fortunate. This doesn’t mean that my partner can’t dance, nor is he a beginner, because none of that matters, but he acts like he really wants to marry me. 

What you and I both discover in Istanbul is that, because we are very blonde, most men really want to marry us. Or so they say. My partner squeezes me during the dance and I can’t breathe. He asks ‘WHAT IS YOUR NAME?’ and I tell him my name and he says ‘YOU WANNA WHAT?!?!’. 

I forgot.

There is a first moment when I am in a foreign contry, when I forget I should introduce myself with my made up name. Because Oana in English sounds very inviting, I usually like to tell people my name is Dora. Dora is also my imaginary daughter. Dora is brave and, as a teenager, took no bullshit from anyone. Unlike myself.

I have been dancing for about three years now. Every time I dance it feels like falling in love with everything over and over again.

This is something very hard to explain to people who don’t dance. How everytime you hear a latino beat at: the dentist’s, Bricostore, the car, the pet store, in a bathroom, your hips start to move. And the next thing you know, you’re the girl dancing in front of Royal Canin Golden Retriever 12kg Dry Food (now with 20% off).  It’s involuntary. But that beat brings all the joy in your body and, in that moment, life is perfect.


I turn around in the huge ballroom and I see you. I grab you by the strap of your jumpsuit and say LET’S GO OUTSIDE AND SMOKE AND THEN LET’S GO UPSTAIRS AND HAVE MORE GIN!!! It’s January in Istanbul and I stand freezing in the hotel doorway, smoking in sandals. I don’t like this city. When we went to visit the Mosque Thing and walked around, I kept thinking ‘this is shit’. But maybe it’s just the feeling I get in every Middle Eastern country that doesn’t really like anything related to sex. Because, otherwise, I really like kebabs.


It’s 5 a.m. We go upstairs, our head exploding from Romeo Santos’ latest bachata masterpiece. We fill our cups up with Turkish gin and Turkish tonic and we say ‘THIS IS GREAT, DO U REALISE IF THIS IS SO FUN, THIS SUMMER IS GOING TO BE SO MUCH BETTER BECAUSE OF ALL THE FESTIVALS AND PARTIES ON THE BEACH THAT WE’RE GONNA GO TO?’

And I laugh and jump up and down and my feet hurt from dancing for 8 hours straight, but I don’t care. 

We finish the gin and take the elevator back to the dance room, for the final round. My clumpy mascara is all over the place but I don’t care. I am so happy. I am so looking forward to dancing my summer away.

  • Sara
    June 23, 2020

    Hope you write a book someday, your style of writing is fantastic, witty, profound while not taking itself too seriously and intuitive.

    • Oana
      July 24, 2020

      thank you so much!!!!!

  • laura
    July 2, 2020

    Hop si eu cu donatia .

    • Oana
      July 24, 2020

      ‘MULTUMIIIIIIIM!!!’ (said the dogs <3 si nu numai).

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