PARIS – Twice I went to the famous Place du Trocadero to see the Eiffel Tower dance. I had heard about it back home on National Public Radio.
In honor of its 120th anniversary, a light show matched with heavenly music made the iconic landmark appear to be boogying each night during the holiday season, the report had said. The Eiffel Tower is spectacular just standing there doing nothing, of course, but the thought of it dancing with the stars had me on Orange Alert.
So the first night of my visit, at 7 p.m. Heavenly Paris Time, I was there. The tower went from static to sparkling right on the hour the way it has done for the past few years. The celebratory dancing and music would begin any moment, I figured.
But the flickering lights stopped after minutes, and nothing else happened. The Eiffel Tower was a lovely wallflower, waiting for someone to ask for a dance. Nobody did. I hiked back to my apartment.
I did a little more research after the fact, the way I’m wont to do. The dancing begins at 8; I’d been too early.
So, a few nights later – before 8 – I marched back. It was cold, and by sundown in Paris I’m usually exhausted from walking the city’s streets and otherwise feasting.
But once I’d been privileged to witness the Bastille Day fireworks choreographed with music, and the effect was worth any amount of trouble. So I stood with a crowd at Trocadero and watched. And listened.
Not only do trains run on time in France. So do dancing towers. The light show began, filling the lacy iron with kaleidoscopic bursts of red and blue and gold. But I was too far away to hear any music.
It didn’t matter. I carry around a soundtrack in my head for emergencies. I figured my music was at least as good as whatever the French government had ordered.
I started slow, a little Edith Piaf and “La Vie En Rose.” The blue lights swayed in time with the Little Sparrow in my head. Then Ella Fitzgerald cranked up with “I Love Paris,” and I agreed with Ella. Paris is wonderful in the winter, when it drizzles.
But then yellow lights were popping, a lightning storm, and I needed to pick up the musical pace. So I let Jerry Lee Lewis out of the box, and a whole lot of shaking began. Some in the crowd were dancing, too. It was as if they heard my mental music.
The French love jazz, so I matched “String of Pearls” with a series of chrysanthemum bursts of red. And because it was December, I let Charles Brown sing the melancholy “Please Come Home for Christmas” in that soulful way of his; it worked well with more blue lights.
I didn’t have much time to consider music for the grand finale. It was on me before I knew it, with the Tour Eiffel blinking relentlessly, waiting for its last dance partner.
I thought of how dances used to always wind down at frat houses at Auburn, when you slow-danced your way into the night in love with life and some boy.
And that’s why I let the evening end with Joe Cocker singing “You Are So Beautiful” while the tower shimmied its way back into the gold gown of habit.
Rheta Grimsley Johnson is a syndicated columnist. She lives in the Iuka vicinity. Contact her at Iuka, MS 38852.
Rheta Grimsley Johnson