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It takes a while to recover from a tanda like that

posted Jun 26, 2017, 10:53 PM by Sophia de Lautour
The inspiration

north sydney tango lessons
Painting of El Beso - by Michael Fisher

'In the tiny fish-bowl world of El Beso, the smallest gestures can assume enormous importance. Contacts between men and women are largely reduced to, on the one hand, the subtlest of silent mimes, the cross-room eye contact, the looks and half smiles and nods as decorous and yet as fraught with meaning as the gestures of characters in a Henry James novel, hinting at passion and betrayal in the way they pass a teacup, in a seemingly innocent remark about the weather, in the way they notice a tiny crack in a bowl on a mantelpiece. The conspiratorial raised eyebrow that says "I'll be yours for this Laurenz tanda, if you'll be mine."

And then there are the strange, diametrically opposite interactions that happen between us on the dance floor. We intersperse snatches of often very trivial small talk between songs with holding each other in our arms like lovers and moving, intimately physically connected, together to the accompaniment of often passionate and romantic, intensely beautiful and moving music. There is a huge and sometimes awkward gulf between what we say to each other and how we communicate on a physical level. I often wish we didn't talk between songs, but I do it because it is expected, a convention which is so firmly established that breaking it feels like a strong statement.

And, in that tiny microcosm of a world where every gesture is magnified, sometimes magic really seems to happen. Sometimes, you don't say a word between songs because you don't want to break the spell. Sometimes, your bodies seem to fit together perfectly, conjoined twins floating in embryonic fluid, long-term lovers well past the first fervour of passion suddenly rediscovering each other and feeling your bodies infused with a long, deep history, a profound carnal knowledge. Sometimes, you are aware of the whole of the other person from their head nestled next to yours to their weight being released through to the floor at each step and the music feels physical, it's not coming through the speakers, the source is not Lucía up in her eyrie, our deus ex machina of music, nor is it Laurenz's fat phalanges dancing over the buttons, confidently familiar with each one by feel, by the way his own playing has worn them down over the years, like a beloved lipstick reapplied many times that has been moulded into the shape of a pellet that perfectly fits a pouting mouth. Our twin sets of lungs like double reeds. Our bodies twisting and rolling against each other, connected from head to lower belly. With no more need than Laurenz had to think about positions and movements and where to place ourselves, thinking only about the music, flesh made music and music made flesh in the miraculous transubstantiations of our dance.

It can take a while to recover from a tanda like that.'

posted 27 January 2015
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