Returning to Buenos Aires was like jumping into a pool with 70 degree water. You wait, you hover, you avoid, you retie your bathing suit, you almost dread impact. Then you take the plunge because you know you have to. There is one split second when your body is smashed with a shock of colder wetness but all at once you are submerged in the familiar water and it feels great. You by the time you reach the other side of the pool you are warmed up, adjusted and so happy you dove.
While missing my family was only made worse by my journey, returning to BA has been wonderful. The people here are more beautiful than ever, the buildings are interesting to look at, and the culture tantalizing and absorbing. I luckily arrived in time to absorb the second week of the Tango Festival held by the city every August. I happened upon the festival as I meandered to a shady spot where I could eat lunch in between classes. The old Harrods building in Buenos Aires has been abandoned since the late 1990's when the crisis killed many business and business prospects. The once grand building has remained empty for at least a decade and I've been dying to see what the inside looks like since I first walked by it months ago. I'd heard that Harrods was used to hold events from time to time, but this was the first time I'd ever seen the store open in my almost (gulp) 11 months here. I wandered in (smiling at the free entrance sign) more to explore the building than for the festival itself. A professional dance class was taking place in the front with seats set up for viewers and I made a mental note to return after I had explored the downstairs of what was possibly once the grandest department store in South America. It did not disappoint.
The space had been cleaned up and filled with irises for the event, but the original dark wood counters and the beautiful chandeliers were original and luxurious. There were also shoe stores with fun t-straps of all colors and more.
When I returned to the dance practice they were just starting from the top. I recognized the basic tango step but this was a modern dance and it was stunning. The dancers started half on one side, and half on the other. They breezily tangoed into position, and as the music started the men embraced the women with strong and sure hands. One couple caught my attention and I remained possessed by them for the rest of the class. He would put his hands on her waste, and she was like liquid in them, only a lovely liquid that he worshiped. They must have been lovers in real life, or else he is trying to make her his lover, or he is an amazing actor. Either way I was convinced. He nuzzled and caressed her like a lover and moved with her as if they were one and as if she was more a dream that he held onto tightly for fear she would disappear if he didn't give her incentive to stay. Tango is basically a glorified, and effective foreplay. I slowly understood our old French house mate's flow of women. If I danced with a man like that I might as well be cast under his spell and whiled away to the rooftop bedroom next to our milonga to complete the hours we had spent in the company of others locked in the same embracing caresses as ours. The thing is friggen sexual is what I'm trying to say, and at that in that moment I would have given a lot to take the place of the tall blond in the arms of the dark long wavy haired moustached stranger that knew what he was doing if only to feel how wonderful it must be to dance with such an artist for only a moment.
A real "Sea of Shoes"
A real "Sea of Shoes"
My favorite part of the dance was after each of the 7 odd couples had taken a place on the floor and in turns would crouch down and then stand up and dance only to crouch back down in a lover's embrace once more. Then, all at once, when all where close to the ground, the left most couple sprang out of the crouch, the woman was lifted above the man with her legs wide and fell over his shoulder only to be followed seconds later by another couple moving similarly to this. Then my favorite couple released their position and he lifted her up, one of her arms gracefully above her head, her knee in the air, over his shoulder, and she bent over him with her back arched as he easily moved her across the floor and she slowly descended without haste or regret.
Sadly they finished the class without completing the dance, and I sorely regret not finding out where I can watch them perform.
Progression of the dance:
Maybe I will take a few tango classes before I leave...but I'll have to be sure to bring Josh with me. I can't be held responsible for what could happen if he weren't there!