“Euphoria” was the word my dance partner used to describe what we were doing.
She said, “I feel euphoria when I dance tango.”
It was Friday afternoon and I had stopped by La Confiteria Ideal. I love that place and I hate it all at once. It’s where I learned to dance on my lunch breaks, so we have backstory. I love the venue and I love the milongas there (especially Diego and Zoraida’s classic Friday afternoon one, El Abrazo Tango Club.) I hate the brutish owners (nasty, brutish and short) who neglect basic maintenance and are capable of selling off historic artifacts like bronze light fixtures for a quick buck.
When they were shut down recently by the city I half rejoiced sensing justice being done, while fearing for the livelihood of those fragile social pacts we call milongas that live there. The rumor on the dance floor is that inspectors found an alien life form living in the kitchen, but I knew that already: years ago I stopped eating there and only ordered sealed bottles of water which I wiped down with a napkin. (I didn’t want to ingest any alien goo.)
My euphoric dance partner was in her sixties, bronzed, forthright and with a slight gap between her two front teeth. She asked me to dance – something rare in the more traditional venues but I suppose she figured me for a foreigner who hadn’t learned the cabeceo yet. Or maybe the world really is changing – even in the milongas of Buenos Aires – and more women are daring to ask men to dance.
She had soft belly fat that was nice to snuggle up against. A lot of the old tangueros have pauches and I have a friend who speaks adoringly of them (both the tangueros and their beer bellies). This woman had one of those and I confess that we fit so nicely together.
It’s funny how tango turns so many assumptions on their heads: belly fat becomes sexy, age and experience are admired on the dance floor, young and old can share a passion.
We danced euphorically. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. But on Friday it happened.
My life in tango is a long passageway marked by frequent bouts of euphoria.