I did not think I would be so lucky to tango while in Buenos Aires.
Tonight, I visited La Viruta with V. and another barrio amiga. The bar appears a dance hall for beginners, but it was probably the best place for me to learn. I can dance salsa, merengue, swing, waltz, and foxtrot. I had confided to Deby that I wondered if I was ready for the tango without experience. She responded skeptically. It may seem easy, but lessons are essential.
At La Viruta, classes start at 10:30 p.m. The first partner I had, Raphael, was a good dancer–very strict and concentrated. He counted each step in spanish, declaring, “cinco y seis” at the end of each pattern. My second partner was a weak lead. I had no idea where my steps were placed. He knocked me into other couples, and I might as well have been dancing with a broom. There was no sentiment. He called the female instructor over for help as if I were the problem. She kindly told me not to lead. Well, this wouldn’t be a problem if he were a stronger partner.
The lesson ended. Thank God. I have no patience for beginners’ lessons. My friends and I watched the couples move around the dance floor. The older couples moved with such feeling, cheek to cheek, nose to nose. They didn’t follow the standard step we were taught, but variations. I couldn’t bear to dance and step wrong, but the tango music and the sound of the bandoneon was so incredibly passionate that my heart hurt not to dance.
The DJ started a salsa dance. I could do this. A fellow about my age, Santiago, asked me to dance. Happily, I asked him, “Salsa?” We danced several dances, including the West Coast swing.
“Gracias,” I told him after a dance.
“Only say gracias when you would like to end a dance,” he confided. There are so many intricacies involved in tango. In the milongas, eye contact tells everything when a couple wants to dance or does not want to dance. If someone looks at you and you don’t want to dance, you look away. (So much to remember!)
A tango song came on. I was terrified on the floor. “Let me lead,” Santiago said, after I began semi-wrestling his posture on the floor. The dance came naturally as I let him move us. We didn’t do the rote pattern I learned in class. He prudently moved us around other couples on the dance floor, hesitating when others hesitated. I allowed him to move us, and I could tell that a stronger female dancer could provide some resistance. The tango is a dare–a resistance sometimes. I was not at the level I could provide repartee.
My last partner led me through the milongra music–the tango that follows a repetitive beat. He was an old and seasoned Uruguaian dancer. I followed him, smiling this time. His experience made me look like an amazing dancer–following his lead made everything easy. He smiled and I could tell he enjoyed the dance. I followed his steps to the best of my ability.
This night, my friends needed to leave early from the dance hall. Augh, I wanted to dance forever. I am craving more.