Monday, February 1, 2010

It takes two to tango

I am now in Buenos Aires--home for 16 million people-- 15 million of them Tango-- the others aren't worth mentioning. Before we came here my husband and I had some tango lessons in our home town of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

When we first got here we immediately read all the dozens of tango magazines. I chose the free lessons as it turned out so did everyone else. When we went to our first lesson there were dozens of people there. The class was going to be divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced. When the instructors asked us what group we would fit into I said 'advanced' just as my husband said 'beginner'. Since I have the bigger mouth we were placed in the advanced class and were immediately demoted to the intermediate and were then unceremoniously kicked out and thrown into the beginners. While my husband shot daggers at me, I said with North American English officiousness, "but we know the steps." The teacher looked at me and said, " A giraffe can learn steps." My six foot six inch husband then said "let me dance with her, I'm tall." Ignoring him, the teacher said, "You cannot even walk across the floor as one. Until you have one heartbeat you cannot proceed."

One heartbeat? Like Siamese twins? Ok now I get it.

We were at square one. We had several problems. One, Tango and everything else starts after midnight and goes until dawn. That is the life in Buenos Aires. I have no idea when people go to work. Our tango brochure said things like Milango ( which means tango dancing halls) starts at midnight and lessons immediately preceding. We are Canadian. We go to bed at 10:00 unless we are having a wild weekend and then, if we can sleep in we stay up until 10:30 watching Silver screen. We couldn't stay up that late no matter how much we tried, We didn't speak the language,and we had no idea how to 'walk as one'. So we hired an English speaking teacher, took private lessons in the early evening, and broke our backs walking with our hearts together ( girl goes backwards in high heels). You have to wear high heels so that you can lean into the man. Clearly I had to jettison my Teva sandals.

I had to go to a special street in Buenos Aires which has only tango shoe stores one after another and tango clothes. After tangoing with the store clerk, I bought stardust sparkle high heeled tango shoes and even my husband bought a pair. I tried to get him to buy the matching glitter shoeslike the local tango stars wear. However, he suggested that I must be on crack. He said he found it disappointing that even after getting kicked out the advance class I still had the chutzpah to even suggest matching his and her shoes. Ok, ok, so I'm a slow learner.

I had no idea that the steps are the least of it. We had to spend hours making a tent with our two bodies. Our chests had to be glued to one another with our feet about one foot apart. Get this-- When a man asks you to tango, you have to lean your entire chest on him and then put up your hands for him to hold. This is not easy for a woman who cringes when people kiss hello--even if I only see it on Jay Leno. Even my unflappable husband was shocked when the male Tango teacher kissed him good bye.

No wonder Buenos Aires is the plastic surgery capital of the world. If you have to bang your chest on strangers you better have some ammunition. You can get full breast implants, no scars all in with aftercare for three grand. I know this because I was in the washroom of a Burger King in Buenos Aires (My husbands Idea of a cafe) when a woman who had just had surgery showed me her implants and told me that when you tango you need something to press against or you can't breathe because your nose it too close to the man's chest. Now there is an anatomical problem I hadn't thought of.

I am quite athletic and have high arches and danced as a kid so I asked one of my teachers in a private lesson why we couldn't move on to intermediate. I know the steps and I think I am following. I said I am paying for a private lesson so I want an honest answer with no saccharine. Picture the following said by a gorgeous south American male who looks deep into your eyes and says with a heavy accent. "Cathy you are like so many women I have met from the northern latitudes." Then he sighs audibly at the tragic mess standing before him teetering in her glitter high heels. ( see picture above) "You are anticipating the movement of our partner. That is your problem. Plus you must learn to trust the man. He is in charge. He is the wall that you lean against. He does what he wants with you. You must learn to surrender."

Oh that is a problem.