Tango Monday Meme

What is it about old school dancing? Waltzing. The Tango. Even those 16th and 17th century precursors to line dancing. They put to shame the kind of dancing I grew up with (my forced P.E. excursion into square dancing excepted).

The first dances I attended were as a ninth and tenth grader in the school café. Loud pop and hair band ballads meant that dancing was bouncing and twisting in a gaggle of girlfriends or watching couples lean against each other. Where was the elegance, the intent, the exchange of information a person needs in the pairing game on the ark of  life?

I was reminded again of my woeful lack of skills Saturday night when Rob and I slipped into the city for yet another celebratory dinner and a movie. The film was an English one, Easy Virtue, based – loosely would be my guess – on the Noel Coward play of which there is a silent film adaption by Alfred Hitchcock no less.

Like most films that originate over the water without much interest in American audiences, the accent and speech patterns took a while to get used to and we missed a few jokes in the beginning. I adore English humor. It’s caustic. Corrosive and wicked, in a way I dream of being able to emulate someday.

The story is set in the late 1920’s but still pre-crash and involved the sudden marriage of an English country blue-blood to an older American woman who drove on the European racing circuit. Scandalous. His mother and sisters are horrified while his WWI shattered father merely smiles and cracks witty at the expense of all.

At different points her past becomes clearer (yeah, that old widow thing rears its predictable head) and she realizes that her love for her young husband cannot overcome the obstacles of his family and position and she decides to give him up for his own good. It’s Christmas and there is a dance taking place. And she tangos her defiance.

“A woman shouldn’t really dance like that with her father-in-law,” I whispered to Rob, who later brought up the valid point that having never had a living father-in-law myself, my observation was an interesting one.

Plot points in dance. Character motivation and intent revealed. It reminded me of Niles and Daphne on Frasier. Another favorite.

I only rarely slow danced. Not because I wasn’t asked, but I didn’t want to be that close to someone. There is nothing innocent about full body physical contact with another. The intimacy is suggested and as the dance continues it becomes more than just an invitation.

I am curious about others’ experience or perceptions. Leave a comment or link back.

7 responses to “Tango Monday Meme

  1. Dancing. Mmmm.

    I used to go to nightclubs a lot to dance, with a gaggle of girlfriends and cohorts. Slow dancing was never the ideal; better to move and shake and wiggle and become one with the music. I got pretty good at copying others’ moves, and integrating them.

    As a young thing, in the Bahamas, recuperating from my first big break-up, I went dancing at a casino. Some of the dancers from the floor show were also on the dance floor- lots of moves to copy. A tall, lean black man, still in costume from the show, began dancing with me.

    You know that scene in Dirty Dancing, where they practice the overhead lift time and time again? This guy lifted me up in that move, right there on the dance floor. I expect I hung there like a limp noodle, which was probably not what he expected, but then, I didn’t expect to find myself lifted over the head of a professional dancer, while recuperating from a break-up, in the Bahamas.

  2. You are so right about how intimate slow dancing can be, and I totally embraced the experience in high school. My husband took me dancing on our first date, which impressed me until I found out later that he only did it to impress me. For years I’ve asked if we could take dance lessons, and he has said yes “in theory.” The time has come, though, because our son is getting married next year in a beautiful ballroom where dancing will be part of the event. Now we will finally learn to dance together – 34 years after our first date.

  3. great clip! my dance experiences are quite intense… mostly as a ‘freestyle/solo’ dancer, i find it therapeutic. love the chance to connect with someone – friend or stranger – for a moment or two on the dance floor and move on.

    a particularly memorable incident from a paris dancefloor comes to mind… where i was able to basically dance with the russian maitre de – and talk (pidgeon french) our way out of a complex situation with an unexpectedly large bar tab (was with a group of brits, and the french seemed to take some delight in overcharging us for drinks…)

    the more complex dances, however, still challenge me. took salsa lessons for awhile with a friend, and have found that to be a spectacular form of dance – little structure with lots of passion… the more structured a dance, the less i enjoy it…

    • hmmm
      i am not a very good dancer
      can’t learn by counting and still don’t know my left from my right
      but
      when the music moves me
      things happen…

      tango allows for this level of improvisation
      whereas all other dances have enforced feet and rhythms…
      imho

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