Kicks and pivots. The flick of a foot. One leg angled and pressed against a partner’s thigh, the other extended back in an elegant line. I’m an armchair admirer of the stalking and walking, and a dancer wannabe when it comes to the final flourish.
Is there anything sexier than a well-performed tango?
Mind you, I’m far from an aficionado. I don’t even qualify as a novice — yet. I’m one of the many individuals determined to take lessons, though the timing of those lessons has always been “someday.”
I’m sure you’re familiar with that reasoning: “I can’t get to it now, but I will — someday.” It’s the rationale of a responsible adult. But “someday” is constructed on a shaky assumption — that tomorrow will be waiting and opportunity will finally be within grasp.
As for my personal history as a dancing fool?
There were years at the ballet barre, which I thoroughly loved. There was mandatory ballroom, which I recall only vaguely. The standard slow dance? Oh, I can muddle through. But anything more complicated and I’m Elaine Benes on the dance floor.
In case you’re curious, I attribute that state of affairs to everything that followed the twist and came before the mosh pit — jumping, jiggling, writhing, wriggling, even moving with a partner — we were flailing to rhythms all our own.
But the tango. Ah, the tango.
It’s fiery. It’s tantalizing. It borders on combative. It’s a lover’s spat set to music — staccato one minute, languorous the next. Tango is refined. Tango is formidable. Tango is sex.
About ten years back, I was surprised to find thoughts of tango resurfacing. Newly single, I glared at my budget, dared to make inquiries and hoped I wasn’t already too old. But age, it turns out, posed no obstacle. My lack of a partner? Quite another story.
So I dropped the idea and tango again slid back into “someday.”
But the trouble with someday is its faulty promise: None of us has a crystal ball. And if I had been able to see into the future? It would have revealed a totaled car and complications from an injury. I lost the use of my right arm almost completely, with only partial use remaining in the left.
Gone were the days of tennis and swimming. Driving was impossible for nearly a year. Dancing? Are you kidding?
Though it took several years, I regained mobility, though I’ve never been able to build back to full strength. Still, twelve months ago, I ventured a toe into tranquil waters, and I swam — not far, not long, but those moments were blissful.
And I tell myself that someday is a lousy risk. "Someday" morphs into "never," and "never" becomes a parade of "regrets." Tango has been simmering in my psyche since that summery swim. If I try it and my shoulders are strained or my arms ache, then I’ll stop.
Meanwhile, the resurgence of Argentine tango’s popularity appears to be working in my favor. Four schools in my area offer classes, so I’ve been dropping hints to the man in my life. He’s familiar with the Milongas — the neighborhood dance clubs in Buenos Aires — and is receptive to pursuing this adventure together.
Forget “the last tango.” This is tango – at last!
My guy and I decided to start small and courtesy of YouTube; we laughed our way through early attempts. We assumed the position known as close embrace, followed instructions, and struggled our way through the eight-step foundation. We’re improving our forward and backward ochos, and hoping to dare el lapiz — the pencil. Then we’re on to perfecting salidas and cruzadas, those sidesteps and crossovers, so, by the time we make it to Tango 101, we can do so without too much embarrassment.
Happily, one thing we’ve got down is the smoldering gaze. And that’s where the heart of this choreography begins: eyes locked in possessive intensity; relaxed posture as partners take position; the man’s hand at rest on the woman’s back; her fingers placed in his welcoming palm.
If the athleticism of this undertaking turns out to be beyond my reach, I’ll reset expectations and make the best of it. But I know this with certainty: I’m over the notion of “someday.” It’s too easy to drift into what was, and equally easy to hold out for what will be. And after all, it does take two to tango and for me, that’s here and now.