Vertigo Leg 1: 2005, US


Buenos Aires pre-show - Tango town.

Buenos Aires pre-show - Tango town. Twenty of the crew head for tango lessons - a night of surprise and sensuality.

Day off in Buenos Aires. We set off this morning to go and visit what's left of Eva Peron, but the rain came down, so we took refuge in a series of coffee shops and spent the afternoon in idle chatter, which proved to be an admiral substitute for grave side visitations.

The evening though, was quite the event. In fulfillment of a long harboured ambition of lighting tech Lynne Ramus, about 20 of us (10 male, 10 female) went for a Tango lesson. We crammed into a fleet of taxis and went to "Studio Dolores" in a suburb of Buenos Aires. There we met Dolores herself, and her partner Juan, who were to be our instructors. On arrival at their fabulous house-cum-studio, we began to wonder if a few stiff drinks ahead of time might not have been a bad idea. However, as we got into it, it became clear that we would need every ounce of our mental faculties to get this dancing together.

Dolores is tall, slim, statuesque, with legs up to her armpits and long black hair held in a braid. Tanned, with dark eyes, she spoke charmingly broken English in a low voice and was wearing a short, low cut lace dress with high heeled tango shoes. In short, sex on a stick. First of all, she made us walk. "To Tango is to walk", she told us, "you must walk with your whole body, like theese... never like theese..." she demonstrated. Head up, chest out, bum tucked in, toes always in contact with the floor. We all circled the room, as she instructed... "head up... keep your feets straight... and don't forget your chest..." One of our crew guys, appropriately named 'Boomer', muttered in his Glaswegian accent "I won't forget yoour chest..."

Though at first seemingly impossible to master, we did begin to get into the Tango sway, which seems to consist of eight basic steps and a ton of attitude. Dolores taught us en masse, then would come by and take us on individually to make sure we were getting the hang of it. She got hold of me, and stepped me through motions one to five. Then the 'six', which is where you make the most major body contact possible whilst vertical. I was a little cautious, so she looks me right in the eye and in that dark brown velvet accent says slowly "you must put eet beetween my". She was talking about my left knee, so despite being on the point of slipping into a coma, I obliged. "Furrrr-therrr" she purred... I tell you some of the lads were struggling.

Afterwards we went for a meal next door and decided to take up Juan on his invitation to come to their tango 'salon'. I guess I was expecting some kind of show, a theatre or swanky nightclub vibe at very least, but it was entirely different. The place is comfortable but very plain, with tables and chairs surrounding a parquet dance floor. Simple curtains line the walls with a small bar at one end of the room and a commendably tatty mid-60's lighting system overhead. Juan, in his delight that we had come, sat us at his own table and made us extremely welcome. The clientele were the most extraordinary part of the place. They ranged in age from teenagers to geriatrics - the kind of cultural equivalent of an English workingmen's club. The place was packed. There were youngsters up on the dance floor, next to Uncle Ted and Auntie Flo turning a heel. There were older men with young girls, women of all ages and in all conditions, a few characters dotted around who looked remarkably like retired Nazi war criminals. The place was a casting director's dream - David Lynch would have a field day in here - but all of these people were brought together by this dance, this fluid motion, so delicate, so beautiful and so sensual. Everyone moving at their own pace, finding their own rhythm within the music, music like the soundtrack of a silent movie melodrama. This was the strangest dance, in the strangest situation, teetering precariously on a knife edge between being ultimately cool and completely naff, but either way I knew it. We were hooked.

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