I’m going to talk about tango because this is a tango week. This is he last week that Hagen (a teacher from Berlin) in town.
Last Sunday I arrived one hour (and 15 minutes) late at the milonga even though I was the DJ. This because my computer is set to Canadian time and today is daylight saving change of hour. I was comfortably bobbing my head to my day’s playlist at home in my bed WITH my dog AND a burning hot heating fan in my face when I picked up the phone to “where are you, are you ok, are you coming etc...” I was late. I arrived at the dance hall, after smoking cigarettes riding my bicycle at neck breaking speed—wasting one hour of tango is worse than being late for an appointment—the house was full.
“I’ve never seen this place packed.” says Stacey.
Absolutely every table was taken. Alyona (one of the 3 tanguero stars in BJ) didn’t dance (with a man) all night. Neither did Stacey. Nor Felicia who left rather than having to swallow the insult. Even though there was Thomas from Munich, what's their faces from Washington and Australia, (who put their tango shoes back as they changed their mind and decided to stay a wee bit longer), Consuela and Eric from Mexico-Arizona-Finland – a most popular salsa teacher duo, our group of Chinese from the west—Dai Dai, one of the 3 Beijing stars, Monica from Holland, Ian from New York, Martin from Cambridge and Hagen from Berlin. A few other faces long unseen.
I danced with guests (ah, my first vals was with Sunny from Dongbei/Hong Kong). I didn’t manage to dance with all the new guests, but I managed to pair with Ian., whom I displayed for the ladies by sliding my finger from his crotch (pardon me) up to his jaw and lips, then flicking it as if a star sparkled from his giddy smile. I danced with Thomas, and after I man-handled Alan for a few hyper milongas he invited me to “follow my lead if you feel like it...”
And I did the girls. Margaret twice. Stacey. Alyona. Finally I had to go and ask Hagen for a dance. I waited silently for Alan and Hagen to finish their conversation about how Hagen was tired and didn’t want to dance anymore. But I asked, “When you’re finished being tired would you like to dance with me before the night ends (in 15 minutes but I didn’t say...)?"
Hagen is Berlin polite so he said yes. After 2 songs of listening to the silence (no invitation) and finally group watching Alyona and Stacey dancing together I see a hand in front of my nose—it’s time to dance.
I concentrated very hard on not concentrating. You see, Hagen had had gotten the treatment with one full hour of Dai Dai, which means he could now die and go to heaven, nothing better than this feeling would ever come over him—NOTHING. You have to see Dai Dai with her head cuddled to the lead’s chest, her eyes closed. She manages to be strong, terribly fragile, right on her axis, pliant, and resisting. She’s not real. AND she’s a Qing Hua (top university in China) chemistry professor. Just so you know she’s no flake.
So the hand extends the invitation, I pick it up, and concentrate on not concentrating. And finally, fuck it. I’m legendary (one of the 3) for being playful (without apology). So, here I'm teaching Hagen about soft resistance, hips low, loose leg, relaxed knee, extended leg, resistance build up, looking over your right shoulder, my centre of gravity in my lower gut, dead elbow, closed angle, wide back (shenme shenme, ladida...) down the drain. I’m back-leading you, I’m looking at your face, and you are going to make me dance the way I feel. And you do!
Damn that was fun. Nothing better than having people clap hands when I dance. It’s like, I enjoy it, and so do you, and they do, too. And that’s fun. It’s a show. Yes. And it’s playing with the music, and playing together. And damn, it’s a hippy feeling. But it’s a genuine wholesome feel.
Of course, my heart skips a beat when the lead hasn’t liked his dance. And it swells, when I go to my dj console, and look at the crowd (judging who’s on the floor, who I don’t want to lose, and what’s next to be played for them) and see my previous partner on the floor, embrace ready, waiting for me. And Thomas waited for me. Which is a compliment. Hagen waited for me, which is fucking unexpected.
Of course Hagen is a Berlin gentleman. But he also has the opportunity to slip away when I slip away to the DJ console. And fuck does it ever feel like a blessing when the man you dropped is there waiting for you. So I rejoice in the embrace, I forget to think about not thinking, and I explode myself... totally.
This I can’t say in words. You’ll have to experience it yourself. Another hippy moment. And when I clapped at the end of the milonga, wait let’s back track...when I announced the last 3 songs, some people were insulted (we close at midnight). And when I clapped in delight at the end of the Cumparsita (last song), it was followed by everybody (on the dance floor, nobody sitting). And when I made the announcement that next Thursday was going to be Hagen’s last milonga, and Martin’s too, and then thanked the crowd for the fun night, they clapped. And clapped. And clapped. Like I’ve never seen clapping 3 times in a row in a show. But they all clapped, at the end of the milonga. (and everybody was so high and saying the music was on fire but actually THEY were on fire.)
And that’s a high. A high. A very high high. People embraced each other for 3 hours. Couples intimate, less intimate, complete strangers, good dancers and beginners, women together interchanging their role. Nobody left before the end (I exaggerate. Almost nobody) and they all clapped because THEY are happy. I mean, the music made them happy. And I chose the music. And THEY danced. They hugged. That’s damn hippy; I’m aware of it as I write it down for you to read. You must be hating reading these hippy lines right now. And thinking tango is difficult and all. It really isn’t that difficult. There just are too many bad teachers out there telling people tango is difficult. But imagine yoga, with 2 people embracing. And wearing sassy clothes...Fishnets. High heels. A nice bicep to hold on to...say no more. (I could but I won’t. You won’t believe that I’m not making it up.)
It’s 3:00 am. The milonga finished at midnight. And I’m going over each and every song because I want to “see” each and every song over again. The last to the last (Cumparsita is always the last) song was the theme song for In the Mood for Love. Do you want to hug somebody and listen to In the Mood for Love?
Tell me no. I know you can’t. Nobody can.
Damn I love tango!
Monday, November 12, 2007