Tango by moonlight

I went to La Glorieta yesterday evening – the open bandstand in a Belgrano park. As I did last week, I went alone. This time was different. I am changing by the day, growing in confidence, believing in my ability to live and to dance the tango in Buenos Aires. Instead of taking a taxi, I took the Subte Line D to Juramento. At 8pm on a Sunday evening the shops were open and the streets packed with people. I walked the six blocks down Echeverria, stopping to wander through a craft market and to sip a cortado in a swanky Belgrano cafe. Crowds of well dressed Portenos were pouring out of a huge church opposite. Buenos Aires was buzzing.

I could hear the tango music two blocks from the park. I was prepared. I had my money and phone in a tiny belt purse. All I carried was my shoe bag. I turned the corner and laughed to see that the bandstand was in total darkness. No lights for some unknown reason, but while there is music here there is dancing! I had mixed emotions as I climbed the steps. Tango by moonlight: intimate, romantic, passionate. But on the other hand my mission was in jeopardy. How would I ever find him, Carlos my dream dancer of Buenos Aires, in pitch darkness? My contact lenses are pretty hopeless at night at the best of times!

First I bumped into Rodrigo who came with us to La Viruta on Wednesday. He seemed delighted to see me. He asked me why I had not been at Villa Malcolm on Friday night. He danced with me and afterwards complimented me on my dancing. He is young, a good dancer and his comments were genuine. I am improving.

Next Jorge found me. He remembered me from last week – ‘Sally who is here from England for six months’. He danced two beautiful tandas with me during the evening saying that he could feel my heart (!) and that I had good balance – something I definitely did not have when I left England. I love the way he dances with my right hand by his side when the floor is busy. He wanted me to go on to La Viruta but I declined. ‘Estoy muy cansada.’ was a useful truth tonight.

I had many and various partners in between these good dancers. Do not be fooled into thinking that every Porteño is a great tanguero.  One forced my head so far over my left shoulder that I thought my neck would break, one pushed my right arm so far back I got pins and needles after one dance, one or two had such weak leads I did not have a clue what they wanted me to do. But there was another guy who danced a tanda of milongas and later a tanda of tangos with me who was fun, led well and reminded me why I came here. He wanted me to go on to La Viruta too! I confess though that through all the poor dances and even some good ones I was distracted. I constantly scanned the darkness for a glimpse of Carlos. Nada.

I found Monica who I had met in England at Tango Tangk 13. She is over here from London for 3 weeks. She told me that she had been watching me dance and said how much I have improved since the end of February. This meant a great deal to me. She is a wonderful dancer. We chatted about the problems of bad leaders. We agreed that to walk after just one dance is acceptable, with a smile and a ‘Muchas gracias.’ I have to toughen up in this respect. Argentine women would not put up with poor dancers, so why should I? Now that I dance better than I did, I can tell within seconds, even simply from the embrace, what the future holds. Often one tango is more than enough.

In an instant my evening changed.

Just before 10.30pm I saw him. Wearing a white shirt, he stood out in the mass of dancers. It was Carlos. As the tanda came to a close my eyes followed him around the floor over my partner’s shoulder. Thankfully I found I could rely on my body to dance well even with this mental distraction. I was not going to let him out of my sight. I don’t think I have ever thanked a partner more abruptly. I hope I was not rude…

I walked towards Carlos and to my relief in his eyes I saw recognition, pleasure, smiles. We hugged, exchanged kisses. We spoke in Spanish. He explained that he only arrived at 10pm, and was not out in the week because of work. I volunteered that I had looked for him in the dark and thought he was not there. He told me that he will go to La Viruta next Saturday around 1.30am and that he will come earlier to La Glorieta next Sunday. While we chatted, the Chacarera was being danced. This signals the last tanda at La Glorieta. This final tanda is unusually long – maybe six or seven tangos. Carlos and I danced them together, slowly, by moonlight, in Buenos Aires. What more can I say?

Learn more about the Chacarera


One Response

  1. Does this Rodrigo have a regular partner named Agostina? I may know him. 🙂

    Mmmm…I hope you don’t follow that one-dance rule, Sally. That’s a huge insult if you left your partner after one dance, especially to an Argentine man. A minimum of at least 3 if he’s totally terrible or about to break your back to avoid a trip to a hospital.

    Well, that’s what I’ve been taught when I was there. 🙂

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