Things that click in the night


Tango is just walking in time to the music.

The lie is compelling because we all know how to walk. Most of us have been doing it since before our first birthday, and like to think we’ve got the hang of it by now. The deception is of course revealed in the very first lesson.

‘Push from the floor with your rear leg, don’t reach out with your front one.’

‘Walk with a swagger, but not pushing your hips forward.’

‘Lead with your chest, but take your power from the floor’ …

Many of the instructions seemed contradictory at first. And then something clicked, and I had version 0.01 of a tango walk.

Other things seemed merely impossible. The close embrace appeared to defy both logic and physics. Where on earth do I find room for my feet? How can I possibly have room to take a step? My first attempt served only to confirm the absurdity of the idea.

And then it clicked. Somehow I wasn’t standing on Steph’s feet, nor she on mine, and when I took a step forward – large or small – the space was there. Later, at the milonga, commentary from a friend I trust to give helpful feedback rather than flattery suggested that my embrace can perhaps be considered version 1.0.

With each new thing, something is forgotten. My tiny tango brain can remember three things at a time; my present ambitions stretch to increasing the number to four.

The obsession continues. Yesterday, a visit to obtain a pair of practice shoes recommended by Mariano. Had I ever envisaged buying my first pair of dance shoes – a phrase which still sounds ridiculous to my ears – that vision would not have included a branch of Sports Direct on Commercial Road, nor a price tag of four pounds.

Today, arrangements for a trial lesson with a second teacher, to fill the gaps between Mariano’s fortnightly visits to the UK. Next Saturday, a visit to look at some tango shoes which are not sold in a sports good store and which don’t cost four pounds.

Questions too. How long, I wanted to know, before I might venture into a milonga for real? Shrugs all round. An impossible question. But one which exposed the yawning chasm between Ceroc and tango. An answer in which the units were a considerable number of months, perhaps a year.

I practice my walk.

Photo: Shutterstock

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