Thursday, November 12, 2009

Takes Two to Tango

We were into the fourth hour of the workshop, and our third teacher definitely wasn't getting the tone right.
"Come on then. What else did you learn?"
We looked at the floor, at our aching feet, at the clock. There was still forty minutes to go.
She tutted. "Look, I know and I wasn't even in the class. I just peeked in. You did the hesitations too, didn't you?"
Collectively, we refused to be cajoled. Show us something new and easily mastered tango lady, or let us out into the sunshine.
She obliged with a move that halted the followers feet, and an arm gesture inviting us to step over our own foot.
"Remember, you're not forcing her. You're just giving her an invitation," she reminded us. I wasn't sure about the others, but it was getting to the stage in the afternoon where I couldn't be bothered to RSVP.
Unlike the other dances I've done, Argentinian Tango involves leaning in to your partner, as if the two of you are building a human house of cards. Three and a half hours of holding my body forward in four-inch heels had knackered my back, and at every pause I slumped in half, trying to stretch the ache out. There was also the question of hold to negotiate. Our first teacher, a slim, ethereal young mum in khakis had talked about the "hug pose", where your arms wrap around your partner's neck, faces close enough to kiss, as if it was an entirely natural, nonsexual posture. Maybe it is in the bordellos of Argentina, but in a strip-lit studio in Flatiron, things didn't feel that simple.
"Oh, you want to do it like that?" my partner asked, eyebrow raised, as I crossed my arms and leaned against him like a tired genie. "I guess it's safer that way."
I ignored the implication that the only thing stopping me from throwing myself at him was my training stance, and merely quipped,"Yes, no close hold please. I'm English."
I don't think he got it, but at least he didn't tread on my toes. And the clock was ticking down with each fumbled ocho.

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