Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Last night, I sat with three Russian girls who had taken the beginner lesson and seemed taken with tango as a whole. They were all adorable, and we chatted for a long time about their plans in the States, their new tango fever, and sangria.

"How long until you're a good dancer?" one asked, clearly making plans.

"Five years," I said.

They looked at me like I had just crushed my water glass in my hand.

"But you're a good dancer!" one of them protested. "We saw you in class!"

In class, we did the basic step: eight counts, one cross. If it looks good it's because I've done it two thousand times, no other reason. I explained that it's one of the most common steps in tango, and showed her my ankles. "I should be able to keep my ankles together without this bruising," I said. "I've only been dancing a month. In five years, maybe I can hold my feet correctly. Then maybe I'll be good."

She frowned and sucked pensively on her sangria.

One of them leaned forward. "But...why would you do it if you don't enjoy it? Why can't you just learn it and enjoy it?"

I looked out on the dance floor and thought about that. She had an excellent point; most people learn tango, dance it, have fun with it, and go home. The tango scene here is pretty big, but you don't really see people doing ochos on the subway. It's just something they do a few nights a week because they enjoy it.

Absently I pressed my insteps to the floor, working on my ankle breaks, and they stared at me in trepidation.

"Oh, you totally can," I said finally. "I mean, you should enjoy it. Why do something if it's not fun, right?"

They visibly relaxed, and the worried girl sat forward and sighed at me as if she had been worried for my health.

"Exactly," she agreed, reaching for the pitcher and looking significantly to her friends. "I was going to say - very strange to dance if it's work!"

We laughed, and she poured them another round of sangria, and under the table I tilted my feet until my shoes pressed against the tile, breaking my ankles down and down and down.

No comments: