Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I became a tango dancer this winter.

Between work, tango classes, practicas, milongas and "the other project," I am very, very busy these days.

I cannot even express how much I love dancing the tango. It's good I waited until mid-life to try to learn it. It's even more difficult than I thought it would be watching good tango dancers dance.

It's subtle. It's full of nuances. It's not symmetrical nor does it mirror, like other ballroom dances. It's more like playing chess than dancing. It's all about weight shifts that should be invisible from the outside, but are critical to dancing it.

To be able to interpret the music I have loved for a lifetime through dancing is, simply put, a dream come true. I dance it in my dreams now -- as I used to have dreams of flying, or of bounding down a street performing twenty-foot high grandes jetées. And now, sometimes, in real life, especially when dancing to a live quintet playing my beloved Astor Piazzollo's tangos, I am dancing the tango as well as if in a dream.

I love the cultural environment and history of the tango. I love the milongas. I love learning to speak and understand Spanish again. I love the Argentine expatriates I'm learning from. I love the SHOES.

And, most of all, I love the tango lyrics. Here are the lyrics to my favorite Gardel song, "Por una Cabeza," one I have loved for decades and now understand profoundly better, thanks to dancing the tango on top of it.

Por una cabeza de un noble potrillo
que justo en la raya afloja al llegar
y que al regresar parece decir:
no olvides, hermano,
vos sabes, no hay que jugar...

Por una cabeza, metejon de un dia,
de aquella coqueta y risueña mujer
que al jurar sonriendo,
el amor que esta mintiendo
quema en una hoguera todo mi querer.

Por una cabeza
todas las locuras
su boca que besa
borra la tristeza,
calma la amargura.

Por una cabeza
si ella me olvida
que importa perderme,
mil veces la vida
para que vivir...

Cuantos desengaños, por una cabeza,
yo jure mil veces no vuelvo a insistir
pero si un mirar me hiere al pasar,
su boca de fuego, otra vez, quiero besar.

Basta de carreras, se acabo la timba,
un final reñido yo no vuelvo a ver,
pero si algun pingo llega a ser fija el domingo,
yo me juego entero, que le voy a hacer.

Losing by a head of a noble horse
who slackens just down the stretch
and when it comes back it seems to say:
don't forget brother,
You know, you shouldn't bet.

Losing by a head, instant violent love
of that flirtatious and cheerful woman
who, swearing with a smile
a love she's lying about,
burns in a blaze all my love.

Losing by a head
there was all that madness;
her mouth in a kiss
wipes out the sadness,
it soothes the bitterness.

Losing by a head
if she forgets me,
no matter to lose
my life a thousand times;
what to live for?

Many deceptions, loosing by a head...
I swore a thousand times not to insist again
but if a look sways me on passing by
her lips of fire, I want to kiss once more.

Enough of race tracks, no more gambling,
a photo-finish I'm not watching again,
but if a pony looks like a sure thing on Sunday,
I'll bet everything again, what can I do?

Someone asked me what it feels like when I'm dancing the tango. This is all I can say: It's like being madly in love, three minutes at a time.

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