Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Last Tango in Portsmouth

Yep. Despite a faltering sense of self and feelings of dubious judgment, I did it. Grabbed my 3 inch strappy never-worn black satin Salsa big girl shoes with the suede soles and bravely signed up for beginning tango lessons at the Portsmouth Ballroom. $50 for four weeks. Friday nights. The consummate answer for transforming my humdrum sexless-in-the-noncity life into one filled with romance, passion ... and if I am lucky ... an uninhibited, sexy me in one month's time. Daring? A no brainer.

The tango. Ah, a barroom dance, an open embrace, negotiated delicately between a testosterone fueled gaucho and a bawdy putain. For a price. A moment. The night. A steamy conversation passionately played out in a crowded milonga. Ankles brush lightly. Knees graze as her calf flicks quickly between her partner's stance and her foot sweeps the floor. Sultry. The tantalizing Latin beat of Astor Piazzolla playing soulfully on his bandoneon, violin-like strains drifting across the smoky room. I was so there.

The October day finally arrived for my first class which would transport me to Buenos Aires on the Rio de la Plata albeit on the Pisquataqua River in coastal New Hampshire. Spring in the southern hemisphere. Rebirth. Romance blossoms. Tying back my thick chestnut hair at the nape, I combed the back of my closet for the most low-cut black dress flowing with the asymmetry of an Argentine flag from my New York City days long ago. Slipped black stockings the color of midnight onto freshly shaved legs and carefully applied the crimson Fire and Ice color to pursed lips.

I was jazzed. MapQuest diagrammed the route to my first night of immersion into the passion of South America. Thirty minutes to the Route 1 Bypass just north of the traffic circle. Pedestrian address. My expectations dropped. My verve faltered. Hesitantly I pulled my Volvo into the crowded parking lot maneuvering carefully between the orange construction cones nearly blocking the entrance and the studio. Signs warned not to park in front of the Adult Book store that shared the building or risk towing. Or, I imagine snapshots of my license plate by the local authorities tracking illicit voyeurism at the pleasure palace next door. My enthusiasm wavered. Big time.

Hesitantly, I slid my car into a space near the dumpster and reapplied my lipstick peering nervously into the vanity mirror on the visor. My dancing shoes in the silk drawstring bag on the passenger seat. The picture glass storefront windows of the ballroom revealed too bright lighting. Couples twirled like whirling dervishes. I seriously considered gearing into reverse and hightailing it into the traffic heading back to Maine.

The irony not lost! I never frequent a bar alone, pas moi. Yet I was poised to enter a ballroom on date night solo to learn a dance with passionate intimacy a dialog born from brothels and cowboys. A paradox, indeed.

Fast paced soul searching required! Under-employed with my son in college, $50 would be an extravagance I could ill afford without giving the experience a whirl. And after all, isn't that what I wanted? To spice up my life. Add some adventure. Joie de vivre. Net net, my fear overshadowed. I quickly turned off the idling engine, grabbed my big girl shoes, steeled my nerves and emerged into the crisp evening, channeling Eva Peron.

Inside two classes were being conducted side-by-side on the ballroom floor. Music dueling loudly: big band swing and gypsy tango melodies. A riot of noise. Skirts swirled as fast paced jitterbugging overtook the dance floor. A few of us waited for our Argentine teacher to arrive from Boston. Intimidated as we watched a master tango class in a studio off to the side rehearsing a well-orchestrated number with Dancing with the Stars precision and talent. Daunting.

Imagine my surprise. Four of us had registered for this beginning class. Three women and one man. The man, a slight Taiwanese ex-pat, zeroed in on me in his barely over five foot glory. At least I would be paired with a male partner. However, I am 5'6" teetering on 3 inch heels. You do the math. Seventh grade cotillion all over again. And this was not the worst part. The tango is a chest-to-chest carefully choreographed dialog, the woman gazing fiercely at her partner's heart. Instead, Chou stared at my decolletage. Where was my six foot tall, dark and ruggedly handsome partner? My bubble bursting into a thousand fragments like the light refracting off the silver mirror ball hanging in the center of the room.

For each of the next three weeks I wore black slacks, ballet flats and a turtleneck. The tantalizing and sultry tango not quite coursing a passionate exchange between my partner and me.

I have earned a do-over. This spring in earnest. But first I will ensure that there are more men, and taller ones, in my class. Even if I have to drive ninety minutes to a milonga in Boston. Or better still - spend a weekend in Buenos Aires sipping Malbec and dining on beef tournedos from the ranchos outside of town before gracefully negotiating an evening of passion uninhibited in a blue smoky barroom filled with the vagaries of the night.

Don't cry for me Argentina! You are on my itinerary. Cheers!

No comments:

Post a Comment