Friday, July 07, 2006

Eighth Lesson

"She is now in the vile embrace of the Apollo of the evening. Her head rests upon his shoulder, her face is upturned to his, her bare arm is almost around his neck, her partly nude swelling breast heaves tumultuously against his, face to face they whirl on, his limbs interwoven with hers, his strong right arm around her yielding form, he presses her to him until every curve in the contour of her body thrills with the amorous contact. Her eyes look into his, but she sees nothing; the soft music fills the room, but she hears it not; he bends her body to and fro, but she knows it not; his hot breath, tainted with strong drink, is on her hair and cheek, his lips almost touch her forehead, yet she does not shrink; his eyes, gleaming with a fierce, intolerable lust, gloat over her, yet she does not quail. She is filled with the rapture of sin in its intensity; her spirit is inflamed with passion and lust is gratified in thought. With a last low wail the music ceases, and the dance for the night is ended, but not the evil work of the night."

T. A. Faulkner, The Ballroom to Hell, 1892, via boingboing

There's something very optimistic about this description of a dance hall. It makes me feel as though I should be practicing this and not so much the steps. Debauchery takes dedication, people!

Paicas came with me to the eighth lesson, which was taught by a very dedicated dancer who drilled us in the importance of the embrace and of timing, rather than having us practice the basic over and over. For his partner he used the wiry redhead who DJs the milonga; there's not a soft corner about her anywhere, and I can't think of her as anything but Vasquez. (What? I loved Aliens. And if anyone I know can haul an anti-aircraft gun over her shoulder and survive a bug invasion, it's this woman. Trust me.)

Paicas falls in love with her, which I feel is a good sign.

We're told to sit out the intermediate lesson, as it's a damn tricky business, and Paicas and I sit at a table and eat bread and butter and exchange amazed observations.

"Is she chewing gum?"

"I love the way that older woman lets her foot float. It's such a great line."

"I really think that girl is chewing gum."

"No, she's thirty - oh, that girl. Oh my God, what's she doing with gum?"

"Dude, the tango does not involve blowing bubbles."

"Tell that to Popper."

Halfway through the class Vasquez looks over at the teacher, makes a very Vasquez face, and shoots herself with her finger.

I have wondered what people who grew up with tango think of the rest of us stomping around. Now I know.

She only dances with women, and she always leads. She eats pasta over a Powerbook, picks her teeth with her nails, and conducts her favorite songs from the DJ booth. I really could not love her more. I hope desperately that she's the future of tango, because that is an awesome future.

"No," she sobs, "all will not be well; nothing will ever be well with me again," and she returns to the room which she has left a few hours before as a bright and happy girl, now broken hearted and on the verge of despair, with a blot upon her young life which nothing on earth can efface...Days grow to months, and now added sorrow fills her cup of grief to overflowing. She is to become a mother, and the poor girl cries out in bitter anguish: "My God, what shall I do, must I commit murder. Oh, that I had never entered a ball-room."

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