Trip Start Dec 01, 2002
24Trip End May 26, 2003
Iīd been taught that a person canīt dance tango by himself. Itīs not even worth trying. It just canīt be done. It takes two to tango, stupid.
Similarly, the 80īs dance band, C & C Music Factory, taught us that: "It takes two to make a thing go right. It takes two to make it out of sight!"
Similarly, it takes two lumberjacks to saw down a tall tree. It takes two bacon strips and two sausage links to make an All-American Slam at Dennyīs. And, it takes two current U.S. presidents to screw in a lightbulb. But, only one to rule the world.
Yes, with tango, things were going to "go right." With tango, things would be "out of sight."
I was the other night in an ordinary discotech - in Bariloche, still, I still havenīt left. Young people around me popped back-and-forth to the crappy, accordian-repetative "kumbia" music that long ago surpassed tango for Argentinian popularity. The kumbia urged me to drink more.
As usual, I asked my friends if anybody knew how to dance tango. Finally, I was pointed to a 21-year-old door-man of the discotech, named Miguel Charly.
Charly was James Dean-cool, with his dark shirt neatly pressed in, dark hair past his eyes moussed down into points, and steel eyes and a brown face that didnīt give away expression. He grabbed his younger sister, to show us all some tango. He put his right hand on her side, and grabbed her opposite hand with his left.
Charly stepped gallantly to the side of his sister, who clung to his shoulder and followed along. Together, they made furiously abrupt turns. His sisterīs head and body swung deliberately as she marched in front of Charly. They pranced around this corner of the discotech, as powerful as Marc Anthony and Cleopatra. We clapped, and I was stunned.
Charly was so cool, I didnīt even know if he liked me - unlike most Argentinian guys, who greet their friends with a big, goofy grin and hug. But, he offered to give me tango lessons, and clearly I accepted.
Two days later, I met him near downtown. Consistent with his small character, he wore light-colored jeans and a matching leather jacket. He gave me the hug and cheek-kiss that is the Argentinian way. We turned uphill to his house in upper Bariloche.
In a small home that slept five, we cleared out the kitchen. There were eight basic "passes" to tango, Charly explained. Each ended and began with the feet of the guyīs and girlīs side-by-side.
Each was initiated by the guy taking one step back with his right foot, then one half-step back before stepping past the girl with his left. Charly demonstrated, while I mimicked him on the side. Pass "1" were six simple steps alongside the woman, with a side-step thrown in to lead the coupleīs feet into ending position. We acted this pass out several times, and it is true what they say about tango. We did look pretty silly tango-ing by ourselves. Except for Charly, though; he just looked like a cool professor.
Luckily, his sister was there as an eager volunteer. Her cute presence in the tango was clearly invaluable. She was sixteen, and she unquestioningly admired her brother such as to make the perfect little sister. Her skin was light peach, and her dark hair slanted across her fore-head in rays like sunshine. She had big, glassy eyes and a beaky, un-sharp smile, like a character on Sesame Street. We led her through the eight
She danced good. On the second pass, she paraded three blade-sharp turns as the hand of Charly or I guided her.
The third and fourth pass were indicated once the guy skated a double-tap-step. Our partner, the young Gabriela, then swung to our side to pose with one of her feet way before her. Charly or I then sandwiched our feet nuzzlingly around hers to turn us around. Or, in the fourth pass, we circled Gabriela, pushing her front foot with ours as we went so that she rotated too.
The tango steps were sometimes unusual, but they could seduce you when done well. Among the final four passes, there was one where the guy and girl simultaneously skipped through the air, and the heel of eachīs front foot booted his back foot into a high kick behind. Romantic like a green Buenos Aires plaza in the springtime. Other times, the guy stretched to kick at a foot of the flaunting Gabriela in order to direct her into a new maneuver.
Also, Charly or I would occasionally lunge, leaning upon one leg bent way in front. Gabriela would then dally past and cutely make a backwards high kick through the underside knee of the guy. And, in one of the eight passes, the girl raked a pointed foot sexually high on the manīs leg.
For such a beautiful dance, really, it wasnīt so tough to learn. Charly and Gabriela ran through the eight passes all at once, producing a playfully romantic jaunt. My attempt with Gabriela at doing this was more of a comedy, however, once I realized how tough it was to remember past the second pass. Tango wasnīt that tough, but I still didnīt have it mastered in one day.
Charly suggested we go out to a tango bar some other night and get in some real-life practice, which sounded awesome. I thanked the Charly family a bunch. I canīt wait for the next lesson, to tango my way a couple steps closer to becoming an "out of sight" tango-dancing maestro.
The next time someone says, "It takes two to tango," say back, "It also takes hard work, memorization, and a practical knowledge of the eight basic passes." That saying īll catch on in no time.
later, "Twinkle-toes" Modern Oddyseus
PATAGONIAN SHOOTING STAR TALLY: 5
Wishes Come True (as of now): 2 of 5
P.S. - Happy weddings! to my beloved college roommate, Ewan "Johnny" Smith, who got married on January 11th in New York to one Kerry Beach. The two met five years ago on our college playground, and from that point, their romance pretty much followed the storyline of Shakespeareīs "Romeo and Juliet." Well, maybe not word for word. Nobody died, after all. Woohoo, guys! Have a kick-ass marriage! Save some cake for me!