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Archive for April, 2010

The band took a small break and electronic music replaced their sound.  As they left the stage and talked to one another, Mr. Gorgeous and I had another intense exchange of looks.  Being rather close to the stage allowed me to inspect his movements and made it easy for him to locate me in the room.

— ‘Maybe I am ready for my second mistake’, I said to Tina breaking the contact with the man but quickly turning my eyes back to him.  As our eyes met again, I smiled and he smiled, but then he touched the bandoneonist’s shoulder and looked at him, as I watched their backs exiting the room.

When I looked back at Tina, she was already standing up for a dance and, before long, one of the young guys I had sat near to in the music workshop invited me for a dance and I accepted it.  I had assumed him to be English because of his pretty face and his slim and long figure, but Marcos was Argentinean and he was considerably more surprised by my nationality than I was by his.  In any case, our neighbouring home countries granted us more to share than tango so our conversation — which he started, I might add — turned to football and world cup before we had covered more usual topics, such as our jobs and interests.

— ‘Pedro and I, you know my friend Pedro right?’

by Pierre Andrews

— ‘Sorry, who?’

— ‘Pedro, over there. You danced with him, the tango instructor.’

— ‘Right, right. Is he an instructor? He didn’t say’. Cheeky! I knew he was being insincere when he said that thing about people finding it hard to follow him

— ‘Well, he is a great friend of mine and we’re World Cup buddies. We went to Germany last year and we’re going to South Africa in 2010.’

— ‘So, cool!’

— ‘Yes, and we definitely want to make it to Brazil in 2014.  It will be the best.’

— ‘I do hope so.’

— ‘Wouldn’t it be great’ he continued, ‘to see Brazil and Argentina playing the final in Maracanã’?

— ‘Best case scenario’, I agreed with a prompt smile, ‘especially if you remain losing matches to us even when you have fantastic teams’.

It wasn’t long that a low morale Brazil had beaten favourite Argentina by 3-0 at Copa America to everyone’s amazement, so there was not much to be said really. Marcos wasn’t that enthusiastic about my best case scenario in those conditions, but he did not protest much, but rather, chose to change the topic.

—- ‘You sound so British, how long have you been in the UK’?

—- ‘Well, thanks, the Brits don’t seem to think so, but anyway, I’ve been here for about 4 years’.

—  ‘So what do you do?’

—  ‘I am a researcher’.

—  ‘Cool! Me too’.

— ‘Is that right? What do you research?’

— ‘I do market research. And you?’

— ‘Academic research.’

We were not dancing, we stalled as we started as Marcos was getting excited and trying to use his hands as he talked.  He was handsome, very handsome indeed, even if he looked a bit too young.

—- ‘So are you thinking of staying?’

— ‘I don’t know’, I said evasively, trying to stop it from becoming a full questionnaire.

— ‘Right. How old are you?’

Why do some guys do that? I wanted to laugh it was such a deja vu! I could see Alex asking me this and subsequently lying his own age so that I would not think he was too young for me… keen young guys, how could they be so clueless and yet look so adorable? I did laugh.

— ‘Old’.

— ‘No!’

— ‘I am 31.’

— ‘That’s not old.’

— ‘And you are what, 23?’

— ‘No! Why do you say that?!’

— ‘Because you look 23.’

— ‘I am 30! And I will be 31 in March.’

— ‘Really? When in March?’

— ‘The 30th. Why are you laughing?’

—  ‘I’ll be 32 on the 31st.’

— ‘Right. So, we will be 31 for one day.’

— ‘Yeah. If that’s true, you have to tell me the secret of youth.’

— ‘Uhm, lots of beer?’, he said with a broad smile. ‘Maybe it’s too much, huh, two aries; impatient, fiery…’ he looked at me as he pressed his lips together for a fraction of a second, abandoning the words to the ever so effective intensity of one another’s presence in the embrace.  Again, I felt a warm excitement inside me, but just smiled coyly and dropped my eyes.

Our tanda was over and a bizarre salsa cortina started playing.

— ‘I don’t get these cortinas’, I said with mild, feigned, irritation.

— ‘Oh, they’re, they’re very Buenos Aires…’ he trailed off and made a head nod as if he had said it all, his contagious smile making everything else unnecessary.

— ‘Thank you’, I said as I started breaking our dancing unit.

— ‘Oh, right. But we’ll dance later, right?’

— ‘Sure.  Anyway, it was lovely to meet you Marcos’, I said meaning it but also as a means to get back to wrapping up.

— ‘We had met before’.

— ‘Had we?’

— ‘Yes, well, maybe not met properly but I saw you at Fernando and Cecilia’s class’.

— ‘Oh, right, right, yeah’.  I lied. I mean, I did not mean to lie with such conviction, for a fraction of a second I thought I remembered him but it became clear he could not be the guy I had thought of.  I really did not recall seeing him before.  I went back to my seat trying to find Marcos in my memory as I replayed images from Fernando’s class.

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Há quase dez anos quando viajava com minha irmã pelo Chile resolvemos cruzar a fronteira para a Argentina indo parar em Bariloche.  Logo ao chegar, os contrastes: os argentinos falavam com a gente na rua, lojas, cafés e faziam a maior festa com as “chicas de Brasil”.  Nós entendíamos sua versão do castelhano com muito mais facilidade e também a cultura.

Ficamos positivamente impressionadas pela beleza e receptividade dos hermanos e, em um dado momento, respirei fundo e disse:  “Eu gosto dos argentinos.  Pronto, falei!”  marcando a admissão de um gostar supostamente inusitado, descabido e inconfessável.

Minha irmã riu muito e registrou a frase em um caderninho em que anotou eventos memoráveis da viagem.

Com o passar dos anos o meu gostar se aprofundou.  Saiu da simpatia, passou por paixões,  engatou no tango, buscou a literatura, o cinema, a música…  e se tornou tão público que deixou o “pronto falei” desnecessário, ainda que lembrar da minha antiga confissão ainda me divirta.

Hoje, de volta de Buenos Aires mais uma vez,  expresso de novo o meu gostar  um pouco demasiado e imprudente da Argentina, dos argentinos, e das suas manifestações calorosas.

Gosto, dizem, não se discute, ainda que há quem fale que se lamente… confundindo a palavra gostar com tantas outras palavras fiz acertos mas também muitos erros de fato lastimáveis; superestimei e subestimei sentimentos e julguei mal certos afetos e atos.  Confusão esta que assumo como minha e que é parte da história dos três tangos, que remete (é claro)  à Argentina, da qual gosto tão claramente.

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3 mistakes

I watched the band and the man for a little while and took the time to finish my glass of wine.  Unsurprisingly, the whole excitement from flirting with Mr. Gorgeous combined with a glass of wine produced the interesting effect of bringing me to a happier, more confident and talkative state.  Tina, who also had red hair from a bottle from what I could tell, did not seem to need much encouragement to reach my state. She was confident and approachable as she waved and nodded to everyone around, looking very at home at the milonga, and was ready to pick up our conversation in no time.

— I don’t think I had seen you here before, Gena.

— Right, I am new to London. I used to live in Yorkshire and I just started coming here about a month ago.

— And what were you doing in Yorkshire?

— I was studying for my Ph.D.

— So interesting.

— Thanks.

— Is there any tango in Yorkshire?

— Yes, there is some. We had an instructor from Argentina, Fabian, and there was even a milonga there, but I’ve never been.

— Right. Fabian… I don’t think I know him. Is he good?

— Yes, yes. I mean, I think he was good. I liked him.

— That’s what matters.

— Well, to be honest, I liked him a bit too much to judge anything properly.  We ended up together and that was not very good for me.

— Oh dear, we’ve all been there.

— Thank you. So, yeah, it all went terribly wrong and I stopped dancing and now I am trying to see if I can make tango my own.  It’s hard at times, though, ‘cos I still associate it with him…

— Of course, but you know we have three of them, right?

by Pierre Andrews

— Pardon me?

— Three tango mistakes.

— Oh no, is that right?

— This is what they say…

— And what happens after the third?

— Then I think you’re supposed to know better not to make them any more.

— Fair enough, I said with a laugh.

— I made two mistakes already, and I want to stop there!

— I hope you will, then.

Maximilian, an instructor I knew by name and who seemed to be a regular at the milonga, approached our table and sat opposite us, generating a sequence of head nods.

— Well, and there is my second mistake, Tina continued.

— Him?  I said very quietly.

— Oh yes, just opposite us.

I couldn’t believe it.  How had he just magically appeared as we talked about the mistakes? And, most importantly, I could not even begin to see what was attractive about him.  As if she could understand my puzzlement exactly, Tina continued:

— It is the dance, you know, not the person, that I miss.  There was no love and the sex was not even that good, but the dance… it just tortures me, because I cannot forget it and then I want more of him.

— ‘I understand’. I said without being sure I did. I could see how Fabian could be called a tango mistake but I was never that detached. Of course the dance had had a huge impact in my attraction for him and had cluttered my judgement, but it was never just the dance for me; loving the man was, in effect, my problem.

— And he is now with a young girl, who is starting to dance.  She follows him like a puppy, it’s so embarrassing, and he goes around showing her off.

— Oh, how original of him! The alpha male thing.  Isn’t it infuriating?

— Yes, but I could cope with it if we were still dancing. We haven’t danced since and that makes me feel bad and discarded. I’m telling you, the problem is the dance.

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Gorgeous can sing

The lights were soon dimmed, inviting the dancers to take over the dance floor.  I looked at Ian, he smiled and we understood it was dance time.  We stood up, he offered me his hand and we claimed our territory as we moved through the wooden floors.

Ian was an educated dancer, he moved with elegantly light steps and I had the feeling he was probably very good, but I did not always understand his polite detachment and gentle lead.  I don’t know exactly how it happened, but we started talking.  I suspect I should take the blame for it and, coming to think of it, I’d say this is something I normally do when I don’t quite connect with the dancer but have no problem with the person.  It transpired, then, that Ian was in effect a trained dancer and he knew — who would have guessed — good gossip involving the tango instructors I often saw parading around.  He did not mean to be indiscrete, I don’t think, it was just that by telling me about his tango education he let me in on more than his own tango journey.

— So how long have you been dancing?

— About 8 years now. On and off, though. And you?

— Almost 9 months now, but with lots of interruptions, so I guess only 6 months count really, I said rounding my tango time up generously.

— Are you taking classes now?

— Yes, I am back to classes now with Fernando and Cecilia.

— How do you like them?

— They’re good. Yeah, really good.

We finished our tanda and I accompanied Ian to the bar for a drink.  I normally did not have alcohol when dancing, but it was a night of celebrations, so I joined him for some red wine and we carried on with our conversation.

— I took classes with Fernando for a while, about 5 years ago. Private classes, mostly, but not with Cecilia.

— Just him?

— No, he was with Luana back then. She was lovely.

— I don’t think I know her.

— She might come tonight; she is Alfredo’s partner now.

— Isn’t Louise his partner?

— His dance partner, yes. Luana is his life partner.

— I see.

— So who is her tango partner now?

— I don’t think she has one really.

— That’s a shame.

— It is indeed.

We had just made our way back to our table when I was invited for a dance. I left my glass on the table, waved a small goodbye to Ian and went for it.  Pedro ended up being a fantastic dancer and a little demanding too.  Our first tango went swimmingly, his embrace was a delight and his lead clear, but I was surprised as a milonga started playing next.  Pedro cracked on but I was still on tango mode, so he reprehended me for being stiff and helped me to follow:

—  Move it, it’s a milonga! He said as he placed his hands on my hips unapologetically and guided them to move with the music.

by Pierre Andrews

— Okay, okay, I’ll try, I said laughing.

— Have fun!

— I’ll try, but I’ve never really danced it! I only had one milonga class.

— Just follow.

And I was surprised I could in effect just have fun by following him.

— You’re good! Thank you, I said with a big smile.

— Some people find it hard to dance with me, he said looking down evasively.

— Never!  Thanks for the dance anyway, it was good fun.

— My pleasure.

Our dance turned out to be the last round of electronic music.  As the music stopped the manager announced the band and got the show going.

— Tonight, in celebration of our third anniversary, we have the honour to receive Tango Negro, performing in London for this night only.  They flew from Buenos Aires especially for our party tonight and are leaving to Italy tomorrow for their European tour. Tangueros, please welcome Tango Negro.

We saluted them as the quartet, now in formal black suits, made their way to the stage.  As I returned to my table, I saw a smiley lady sitting on a chair next to mine.  I smiled back at her and sat down.

— Nice shoes, I said as an icebreaker.

— Oh thank you, they are really comfortable too.

— That’s good. I always notice them; I guess I have a bit of shoe envy now as I don’t have proper tango shoes.

— Oh, they are fabulous; I can give you the address from where I got them another time.

— That would be lovely, thank you.

— See, the heels are not too thin and they have this platform, she pointed as she turned her foot a bit, I always like when they have this little platform.  I am Tina, by the way.

— Lovely to meet you Tina, I’m Gena.

Vibrant live music transformed the night’s atmosphere.  It was no longer just a milonga, it was a concert as well and I would be happy to just sit there and enjoy the music.  I turned to my right to reach for my glass of wine and noticed Mr. Gorgeous was back on the main dance hall, coming in our direction and looking even more dashing.  His hair was tied into a pony tail and he had changed from jeans and a thick woollen jumper to social black trousers and a nicely cut grey shirt that was much more flattering to his alluring body.  I followed his movement as he crossed the dance hall and we locked our gazes again for (almost) his entire trajectory.  He was poised.  As he got just a few inches away from my table I could see thick eyebrows framing his strong eyes, but the dim lights did not allow me to be sure, probably not green, maybe hazel?  With my chest heavy, I felt the up and down of the butterflies on my stomach and could not hold an embarrassed smile.  I withdrew my gaze for a moment, but looked up again.  He walked past my table without ever looking away and our eyes reconnected as I followed his trajectory and he turned his neck backwards provocatively as he walked towards the stage.  Maybe I was slow to get the obvious, but I was baffled when he climbed up to the stage, grabbed the microphone and started singing Trenzas.

I was astounded; the man’s voice was velvety, powerful and trained.  Mr. Gorgeous could sing.  His already all too obvious attractiveness was now amplified, he was a God on display for an entire audience, and although I could now stare openly, it wasn’t as much fun as our flirtatious play.  He was working the stage and I was in the audience; the gaze distribution was unfair, it was my job to look, but I did not have much access to him.

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I went up the few steps that led to the main dance hall, turned right to get through its door and was surprised to see it with the lights on. It looked bigger and more detailed with its stained glass windows, wooden floors and panels and little tables lined next to the walls.  It was the place’s anniversary so they were holding a special party with live music by tango negro and a music workshop before the milonga, instead of the usual dance classes they offered.  I had been there three times already, but only for the milonga, so I usually found the place much louder, darker and magical as it vibrated with music and people.

There were no seats near the door so I had to cross the bright room, where tangueros sat unusually still in a ring of chairs that faced the musicians, who were still checking the sound. I made my way towards an empty chair near the stage, just a few seats away from two young looking guys who talked suspiciously to one another’s ears and did not strike me as particularly friendly. It was, nonetheless, an available seat and a relief to finally rest on ‘my’ chair and wait for the workshop.

by Pierre Andrews

A few moments later the musicians started talking about different tango orchestras, their historical periods, styles and the impact of their way of playing on dancers. They also illustrated what they presented to us by playing some fragments of the music in those different styles, so we could get a feel for the information they were conveying.  That’s how the bandoneonist made me fall for Troilo’s melodic phrasing.  Enraptured by the music, I discovered myself lost in another sensual reverie. Sitting on the farther corner of the stage, near the door to the main dance hall, was a man of striking good looks: tall, with broad shoulders, long brown hair and eyes that, from that distance, looked as though they could be green. Argentinean, I guessed, and so rare to see good-looking man like him at the milonga.

Damn! I was starring at the man and he was looking back at me.  I looked down and away.  How long could it have lasted? I looked back, he was still looking, so I quickly looked away.  I looked back again and there he was looking at me.  Definitely Argentinean. This time I dared to sustain my gaze – if he could do it I could do it.

The milonga’s manager came to talk to him and Mr. Gorgeous went with him to say something to a man who was controlling the sound on this booth I hadn’t even noticed existed upstairs.  There was some coming back and forth with them and the man from the booth and I focused my attention on the bandoneon again.  The workshop had to be over soon, it was past half nine and the milonga was supposed to start at nine, so the manager was anxiously speeding things up. We were still supposed to go through some exercises. ‘What is this song’s tempo?’, 4/4, some of us said, but most were quiet.  ‘What orchestra would that be?’, ‘Di Sarli’… The gorgeous man walked felinely back towards the stage, holding his gaze at me a good for part of his trajectory.   I felt acid burns up and down my stomach and blushed as if everyone could see exactly what was going on inside me.

It was time for the band to stop so the musicians and some of the staff went to the back of the room as the manager took over the stage and announced their anniversary milonga was about to start.  Electronic music came through the speakers and the chairs that formed the ring were pushed back to the tables near the walls, clearing up the dance floor.  I pushed my chair just slightly back and sat comfortably by a table on the corner waiting for the milonga to start when the older man sitting next to me approached me:

–       Would you like to dance?

–       Thanks, but I am not good enough to open the dance floor with the lights on and all.

–       Okay.

–       But maybe later?

–       Sure.

I noticed there were quite a few ladies in colourful dresses standing by the dance floor near the bar, waiting for an invitation, but the man did not make his way towards them. Neither did a rather eccentric guy I had danced with once before and who ended up crossing the room to ask me for a dance.  He extended his hand to me, but I remained on my seat.

–       Sorry, but I have just told him I don’t want to open the dance floor with all the lights on, and cannot dance with you now for the same reason.

–       Oh.

He looked so insulted that I ended up feeling offended myself. The nerve! It was as if I had the duty to respond on demand and dance with him. I had always been nice and grateful for all the dancers who asked me, I just needed some time!

–       There are so many good dancers clearly waiting to be asked, why don’t you ask one of them?

He left and not once again asked me to dance with him, which was noticeable but not regrettable.  Ian, the man I had promised I would dance with when I was ready, smiled at me reassuringly and I felt I had done the right thing.

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