Sunday, May 01, 2005


What was that, Eileen? The three things a poet should write about: wine, tango and something else. I forget. The fiance is looking to get back his ballroom tapping feet. So, we attended a beginner's Argentine Tango class this afternoon.

Argentine Tango is not the easiest class to start out with. But, oh how I've always been entranced by the twisting bodies and the entangled legs. The European dances (waltz, foxtrot, etc) are very upper body structured, the arms sit in such a way. Argentine Tango is less "structured" but much more connected. It's a very close body hold. Later on, there are additional connections with the feet and legs, an answer and response with the footsteps. So so gorgeous! And the music! The bellowing of the accordians, the lilting melodies, the bass of the gruff German instrument, the habanero beats. The fiance likes the European dances, so Argentine was a bit tricky.

The teacher called it elegant walking. For the first 20 minutes we reviewed walking forward and backward. Standing tall with the body pressing forth before the step of the feet. Chatting later with a friend of mine who is quite the expert in many types of ballroom, she said the music was more pedestrian than dancey. You can't rely on the music to really tell you what beat you're on, you have to listen to your personal rhythm as it correlates with the music.

The woman ends on a close step, left leg crossed over right, balanced on the left leg. The lead must key in on the woman's balance. If the woman isn't balanced then she gets stuck because she is fighting to keep a position which means it's difficult for her to take the next step. I found I could dance for a long while with a good lead, but ended up with a stiff back with the bad ones.

Like most dances, they are a fliratation between men and women, a way to woo the women. For the men to show off their skills and prowess. While the men in this class get to dance with the women, often times men had to learn to dance from other men before even daring to approach a woman.

Afterwards we watched numerous retirees in the large ballroom for the Tea Dance, where they simply play different kinds of ballroom songs. It's sometimes funny to watch because most people don't have any kind of expression one way or another while they're dancing. Still counting the beats in the head I guess. One couple was a "theatrical" dance couple (ie competitive dance) with the exaggerated angles and stances. The stances never seem quite "natural" but still fun to watch.

We plan to go on a regular basis to at least get a nice basics in Argentine Tango. The Fiance is going to fit in an extra class or two in another dance as well. I'll go home and watch some Fred Astaire movies for inspiration.

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