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Day 65 – Remember the Time We Didn’t Tango

December 14, 2010

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Date: Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If you come to Buenos Aires and you’re supposed to see an Argentine tango show. Well, I’m also supposed to climb the corporate ladder, get married, and quit this traveling thing and have me some little Mervyns and Mervinas. I think you know how that’s going.

All’s to say, like many things in my life, I haven’t done what I’m supposed to. In this case, I may never see an Argentine tango show. I’m not opposed to it, but things have kept coming up. Things like doing nothing. I don’t regret this, though. The shows are a bit expensive and I’m not yet convinced I can’t see the same thing on youtube.

What I do regret, however, is not learning how to tango. Unfortunately, I did not realize I regretted this until tonight, my last night in Buenos Aires. My revelation came during a visit to a milonga, which is, from what I can tell, a place where mundane men go to dance tango with women who are way above their pay grade. There wasn’t any undeserved hotness in my life tonight, though, because I didn’t dance. The atmosphere was perfect at “La Catedral”, a bohemian milonga on the upper floor of a rundown building on Sarmiento. The ladies were plentiful and seemingly willing. So was I. The problem was that I got there after the free lesson for beginners.

I knew before I got there I’d missed it, but I showed up anyway thinking I’d see what the fuss was all about. Turns out there’s a fuss for good reason.

This tango isn’t a friendly hop-up-and-down dance like swing or its smoother cousin lindy hop. It’s not raw like salsa. It doesn’t float like a waltz. It doesn’t rock your hips like a mambo. To my eye, Argentine tango looks like a mix of foxtrot, waltz, and a lingering French kiss. It flows. It pauses. It sighs. It presses its cheek to you and lightly breathes down your neck as it slides you across the floor.

Of course, this is all conjecture. As I said, I got there late–after the lesson. I did not dance. For all I know, the tango is like shoving a pen into your ear then pressing your face into a belt sander.

Watching, I couldn’t make enough sense of the dance to figure out the basic steps. There’s a rhythm, but it doesn’t seem set in any way. Moves and transitions seem to come from nowhere, like the dancers are telepathically linked.

It looks great. But what does it actually feels like? I don’t know. Perhaps next time I come to BA, I’ll get a chance. It’s something I should definitely do.

GALLERY: No bonus pics today.

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