Una película: un tango mágico

DSCF2032 I remember the first time I heard the word ‘película’. It was in one of my Spanish lessons during my early days in Buenos Aires. I went three times a week for two hours a time. I struggled to stay awake: in those days I was  out dancing tango every night until the early hours. My Spanish teacher used to get me to pretend to make arrangements for the weekend. Hence, with the awkwardness that adults sometimes exhibit when trying to learn a foreign language, I mumbled things like, ‘Queres ir al cine a ver una película con migo?’ At the time I thought, ‘What a strange word for film: it sounds more like a peculiar penguin.’ Now, this word, like so many other gorgeous castellano words, is part of my everyday vocabulary: familiar, comfortable, and as readily on the tip of my tongue as its English equivalent. And somehow, the flow of life has led me from those tedious Spanish classes to Tuesday of this week, when I spent a fascinating morning making ‘una película’ of my own: a little film, of me and Ariel.

The tale of this film illustrates perfectly how my life has unfolded since I arrived in Buenos Aires: city of my dreams, city of new encounters, city of opportunities. One day back in June, I was in Comme il Faut. It was in the days when I used to splash cash on new tango shoes. I was with Gabriella, and we were chatting in English as we tried on the beautiful and the sexy. Other customers were packed into the tiny store. I heard another English accent, my heart leapt with nostalgia, and within a few minutes I had exchanged email ids with a tango dancing ‘chica’ from London. She was leaving the next day and on a final tango shoe spending spree. Her name was Catrin. She said she would be returning to Buenos Aires one day. I said I would be returning to England one day. We only spoke for maybe five minutes, but we agreed that we would meet once more in which ever land we both happened to be at the same time…

Months later, I heard from Catrin. She was back in Buenos Aires. We met in a calm haven in the tourist central nightmare that is Florida Street: ‘Cafe Richmond’. We drank ‘licuados de banane’: hot-day-heaven in a glass, and learned about each other. Both ‘inglesa’, both trying to settle in Buenos Aires, both adventurers, both tango dancers, both just a teeny bit ‘loca’. I liked her. She reminded me of me. And I found out why she came here. She is a film director. She wants to make documentary films in Argentina. She has already made one. She has a dream and she is living it. Different circumstances, but a totally familiar story. We clicked. We became friends. And last week she offered to make a little film of me and Ariel.

What an experience it was. Not quite the usual scenario for my videos… I’ve written before about those days: me overflowing with nerves; Ariel overflowing with adrenalin; some kind and patient friend standing in the corner with my tiny Pentax Optio S7 having to hold their finger down on the button for the entire three minute tango… or should I say countless three minute tangos due to the nervous errors made by me.

First, we had two hours – a bit of time to play. Second, Catrin arrived not only with her camera, but with clothes for me, and a head full of creativity. Third, I was exhausted from a hectic few weeks, and Ariel turned up feeling very sick… neither of us had energy for nerves or adrenalin. Who knows what the two of us will look like on the film, but actually I don’t care because I enjoyed myself so much. Catrin lay on the floor and filmed. She climbed ladders and filmed. She moved around us and filmed. She and I ran about between dances, me in my tango heels, shifting furniture and piles of exercise mats to try to keep all the debris in the room out of shot. Catrin liked the ladder: maybe it will star in the film. Ariel was too ill to move, except when he had to dance. And we  danced over and over (poor guy). We stuck to two of our favourites: ‘La Bruja’ and ‘Pensalo Bien’. We danced in corners, in tiny spaces, in lines, up against the mirrors, sometimes so close to the camera that we hit it as we danced. I laughed a lot. I perspired a lot. Ariel nearly expired, full stop. Catrin was a superstar: told us it was only a practice; told us what to do; told us we were great; helped us relax. Famous film directors of the world, watch out…

I have no idea how ‘nuestra película’ will turn out. Maybe me and Ariel did enough to create something interesting. Maybe we didn’t. One day, if the film is made I will share it on this blog. We talked about more filming when I get back from England, perhaps outside: in the street, on a roof top, in all kinds of places… I love creativity. And oh yet again, I found out on Tuesday that it’s the experience that counts, the doing, the trying… any end result is a great bonus, but it’s the process that I have to enjoy: the journey, the living. I loved putting on a gorgeous red dress. I loved dancing tango for fun for two hours. I loved the creative process. I even loved shifting the furniture! And if I hadn’t said hi to Catrin months ago in Comme il Faut… well, I am just glad that I opened my mouth, and seized the day.

DSCF2068 And too, it was a fitting ‘hasta luego’ for me and Ariel. After almost a year of dancing together, he leaves Argentina for six weeks today, and I leave for England in A WEEK! By a perfect stroke of fate our travel plans coincide, and we will be back in Buenos Aires within days of each other. We will dance again.

I still remember the first day I walked into his flat and announced, ‘I want to be a great tango dancer.’ I felt like Sally Potter. God knows what he thought. But on Tuesday, as we danced for the camera and exchanged warm hugs, we both knew that no longer are we just teacher and student: we are firm friends. If we gave Catrin enough material to create a precious memory of our year together, I will be very very happy.

Who knows what we will call the film. But in my heart it will be named: Sally y Ariel: un tango mágico’.

Ariel Yanovsky:  brilliant dancer, talented musician, amazing teacher, man of style, of generosity, of huge warm heart… for helping to make my year in Buenos Aires, the best of my life, quiero decirte, ‘Mi profesor, mi amigo, te quiero.’

Oh and some months later, here is the film. In the end it was called:

Mediodia de viernes


5 Responses

  1. Dear Sallycat,

    Even if that little film doesn’t get made (but oh, I hope it does), the fact that tango brought you yet another unexpected delight you’ll always remember is wonderful. I’m sure at the rate you are going these types of magical events will happen even more frequently.

    I hope this week goes well for you as you prepare for your long awaited trip. Safe and happy travels to you and your sweetheart. And Happy Valentine’s Day!

  2. Tangobaby

    Thank you for your happy wishes.
    One week to go and I’ll be leaving in the morning. I just hope they let me back in when I return in April!
    Today I sat outside a café in the sun, drinking coffee, eating medialunas, watching Buenos Aires go by… I thought, ‘Sal, you are one fortunate woman.’
    Tango brought me here, gave me Ariel, gave me my Argentine Valentine, gave me my life back.
    The power of tango.

  3. I can’t believe you’re leaving in a week! We must meet again!

  4. Tinatangos

    I know, I leave on Friday!
    And life is manic right now…

    Let’s try and meet for a coffee if we can. I will email you.
    Hugs, SC

  5. Didn’t mean to intrude… so sorry but I was captivated by you experience 🙂 So I thought I just drop a note to tell you that.

    Thanks for sharing your little experience with Tango 🙂

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