Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ABBA is alive and well in Moscow, unfortunately.

Last night was the Christmas/New Years celebration with the English students of Lingva, so a few other Americans doing missionary work in the city joined me to talk about our traditions, sing a few carols, and screen 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'. The students had even set up a fake 6-foot Christmas tree (or елка) in the middle of the room.

Then one Russian student had a few songs she wanted to sing. I had been told of her wonderful voice well in advance, so I thought it would be lovely to hear. I just didn't anticipate the genre of songs she enjoyed: very bad classic electro-pop. Her performance was capped-off by a memorable finale of ABBA's "Happy New Year". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcLMH8pwusw

She addressed everyone, "I think you all know this next song, so lets gather around the tree and sing together." I glanced suspiciously at the other Americans in the room, but we nonetheless stood, joined hands around the tree, and began walking in a circle while the young woman conveyed to us her passion for all things ABBA. None of us Americans knew the song, but the Russians were certainly into it, raising their hands high up in the air each time the phrase 'Happy New Year' was sung.

I learned one important lesson that evening: ABBA's song is four and a half minutes too long.

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