Posts Tagged ‘3 tangos’

A dance exhibition followed.  Invited dancers Paola and Ruben took the floor to show their skills and us regular tango improvisers sat to watch their performance.  They danced beautifully, but I honestly could not take my eyes off her, the elegant moves, her dark hair, the lean and strong body –  “pilates instructor”, the blurb said – that was shown off by the predictably flimsy but unpredictably turquoise dress.  No wonder Fabian was crazy about her; it was him and everybody else. I myself was endlessly fascinated by the amplified perfection of it all and, as usual, amazed by the fact that professional dancers can jump and turn with delicate, low cut dresses and bare backs! How do they get enough support?  Ruben did a good job too and his precise movements allowed her to shine, but he looked pale near her and his casual suit didn’t do anything for him.

by Pierre Andrews

As the exhibition ended, the band returned to the dance hall to take the stage over.  When Mr. Gorgeous entered the room and we held our gazes again, it almost felt as if we had our own rehearsed routine.  Of course I felt excited and, yes, I was glad we were renewing our demonstration of interest, but I sort of expected it.  The fact that the man was performer himself and was there to be admired from a distance made the flirting business considerably less risky – would it even be possible for him to approach me at some point?  His presence was immense, though, my thoughts and breathing ability were put on hold as he came close to me looking straight into my eyes.  No smiles, this time, just intense eye contact and a slight neck turn, as he went past me.  His attitude, I resumed my thoughts, had to be paired with great confidence and the awareness of his high attractiveness, which, granted, was obvious, but what did it mean for me?  I mean, did my part on the flirt made me delusional, presumptuous or attractive?

As the music started, John approached me for a dance.  I liked dancing with him and the fact that we were becoming regulars.  We never talked as we danced so I just let the music and Mr. Gorgeous’ velvety voice take me into a daydream.  I wished he would stay in London.  Flirting would be more real, I’d have butterflies for the whole night, maybe for a month, and I would definitely wait for the show to be over to create the opportunity for him to approach me.  But what was the point when the band was leaving to Rome on the following day?   It was almost 2 in the morning, I had been up since 6AM, travelled to Manchester and back and I was tired.  I was also on a high from a great night and from having the hots for Mr. Gorgeous.  Delusional or not, I was feeling more confident and excited about meeting someone new. Maybe that was enough. Waiting for the show to be over betting on a possible approximation did not seem like a great idea when even best case scenario had to end with him leaving on the following morning.  Mr. Gorgeous was not to be my second tango mistake, he was the trigger, an overdue platonic rebound, so to speak, and maybe that meant I was already getting wiser with one tango mistake on my bag.

As the tanda was over, I thanked John and turned towards my table.  I looked at Tina as she sat, chest forward, alert to the dance floor, which was filled by younger and less talented ladies, myself included.  I went to say goodbye to her and was intercepted by Maximilian, who stood up, introduced himself as an instructor, asked me something about my tango training and said I was doing well.  I thanked him and noticed a possible girlfriend looking at me as he suggested we should dance sometime.  I agreed politely and extended my smile to the girl, nodding a ‘hi-goodbye’ to them just before resuming my way to Tina, who gave me a knowing smile as I approached her.  She had gathered two small tango flyers for me, one for a place in which she took classes and one for shoes.  I thanked her a lot, wished her a merry Christmas and started crossing the room near the stage.  On my way out, I looked at Mr. Gorgeous intently, a ready smile on my face, but he did not see me, so I got to the door and went down the stairs to the cloakroom.  I changed into my winter boots, put my coat on and was saying goodbye to the smiley Doug, the doorman, when Marcos sprinted into the room.

— ‘Are you going now’?

— ‘Yes’.

— ‘But it’s so early’.

— ‘I am tired’.

— ‘Will you make it to class this week’?

— ‘There aren’t classes this week, Fernando and Cecilia are going to Argentina’.

— ‘Yes, but Alexa and Javier are quite good too’, he picked one flyer from the side table behind him and extended it to me, ‘Wednesday, what do you say?’

— ‘Okay. Wednesday.’

I picked the flier and could not help but smile back at him ‘Bye Marcos, bye Doug.’, I left to the door carrying a big smile, three flyers and some new plans.


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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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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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Redhead (pre-milonga)

As I arrived at Manchester Piccadilly I noticed there was a train I could take leaving in 2 minutes. I did not even think of saying proper goodbyes to the other researchers, I just ran to platform 5 and boarded one of the first coaches. It was packed: Friday after half five heading to London. People sat at improvised spots at the ends of most coaches, but I kept on walking through its corridors and got a seat within 2 minutes of the train’s departure.

I just sat there for a little while, resting from the long day of travel and meetings and then made my way to the restaurant wagon to get a sandwich, water and a flapjack, so I would be ‘properly’ fed before I got back to London for the milonga. I was lucky to board that train and find a seat, but there was no way I would get to Holborn at 7:30pm for the musicality workshop. I got back to my seat and caught the girls I was sharing my train table with discussing very pressing maters:

– He said you wash your hair and then apply a good amount of those anti-dandruff shampoos to it, right? Make a good lather and leave it on for about 20 minutes before you rinse. With a few washes the dye is gone.

– Cool. Are you doing it?

– Yeah, most definitely. I really hate my hair this dark.

– Sorry to interrupt, I said, but your hair looks lovely!

– Oh, thanks.  It’s just a bit too dark!

– Well, it looks great to me, but I know what you mean. I dyed mine last week and I don’t recognise myself as a redhead.

a bit too rock n'roll

– Seriously? It looks great on you.

– Yeah, it does, said the other girl.

– Too rock n’roll for me I guess.

We went on sharing our likes and dislikes for the results for a while, but then the girls had to get ready for their party in London: they went to the loo and changed into cute little dresses and started doing their make up on our table. I did not have much to do as I was keeping my work outfit – nicely fitting caramel trousers combined with a white top with some lacework that had been strategically hidden under an ivory cardigan during the day, but would become partially visible under a burgundy shrug I was planning to wear for the milonga – and, as for make-up, I had to go neutral. Having bright mahogany hair did not allow much colour or intensity due to the risk of being taken for a clown. So, my effort to join in consisted of a little bit of brown mascara and a neutral, peachy coloured, lip plumping lipstick, which, disappointedly, did not sting at all. We wished one another a good night out as we stepped out of the train and I hastily made my way to the tube.

It was well after 8 when I arrived at the milonga. As I was going to pay, I asked the always smiley door man, Doug, if I was too late to make it to the workshop. Doug’s smile was a sign of hope and trouble:

– You came in time for it, young lady, they’re still checking the sound.

– Yay!

– It should be starting soon, said the man who was talking to him.

Doug’s responsive looks failed to portray the same optimism, as he raised his eyebrows and kept his gaze low with a slight and doubtful turn of face towards the other man. I followed the words rather than the face and, without losing a minute, changed to heels, dropped my stuff at the unattended, but safe, cloakroom and made my way towards the main dance hall, when the man who was chatting to Doug stopped me:

– I like your hair.

– Oh, thanks. It comes from a bottle, I said resenting the colour.

– What?, the men said in unison with puzzled faces.

– It’s a red dye; it’s naturally blonde, dark blonde.

– How come you dyed your hair being naturally blonde? Said Doug, positively perplexed.

Good question, I thought, but said nothing. For Christ’s sake weren’t men supposed to have no interest over such things? How could I begin to explain I had recently felt a change would do me good after a nerve-racking period that had culminated with a Ph.D. examination and a subsequent encounter with Fabián.

– Do you know how many people dye their hair blonde?, he insisted, while the guy who had originally liked my hair did not say a word in my defence.

– Mousy blonde, not very bright; I said awkwardly and left to the main dance hall.

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This last weekend Narcotango played in São Paulo in a special milonga, which turned out to be my first in Brazil and in almost 2 years.  I was very impressed and moved by the live show, even if not so much by the milonga as, contrary to my previous experiences, people seemed to be dancing within their own groups. So, although I had a chance to dance, I also felt like I was lurking for some time,  which suited both the sociologist in me and my injured foot.

picture by Pierre Andrews

If I am honest, however, my professional affiliation had very little to do with my enjoyment as an observer; watching couples do the tango provides some entertainment that can be akin to first hand access to hot gossip: bodies that seek one another with passion; strangers that take a little too long to break the embraces tango allows them to experience; expectant ladies that wait for a dance while reluctant leaders hang about without ever asking for one; bodies that stall in disagreement as to where that dance is taking them…  Even without feeling it myself, I could recognise the presence of the strange tango witchcraft that transports dancers in and out of relationships and, as a wicked genie, grants them 3 mistakes.

When Tina told me of the 3 tango mistakes I thought of them as one’s allowed share of it and, even though I could immediately recognise myself as a survivor of a devastating one, I took it lightly.  Enticed by live tango in a lively milonga, this new piece of information produced excitement rather than caution.  I smiled at Tina and said maybe I was ready for my second mistake, and went on exchanging glances with the tall, dashing Argentinean and soon forgot I had ever heard of anything but pleasure together with the word tango.  It was just thinking in retrospect that Tina’s shared knowledge hit me as prophetic.

During narcotango’s concert, I looked at people around me, wondered how far they had got on their mistakes and considered making an effort to pass on my knowledge, but I could not see much use in doing so…  I knew all too well that having heard about the 3 mistakes hadn’t stopped me from making them.  The problem, as it frequently is the case, is that it is hindsight that allows unsuccessful actions and choices to be reinterpreted as mistakes and, when it comes to tango, it is fair to expect those choices to be fairly tainted by somewhat narcotic effects.

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3 tangos

Three tangos, três tangos, tres tangos… is about a journey that involves tango – the music, the dance and the drama; longing, love and loss.  A journey still in the making, the search for that third element that closes it, brings the idea of completion and wholeness to the story.  It is about making mistakes, mixing tango with love and living the corresponding highs and lows of the process.  It is fiction and reality mixed together, contaminating one another and becoming inseparable, a third thing.

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