Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tango Fever (Part 1): Written By Laila

Of all the things I love about tango, the most important for me is that I've been able to meet so many wonderful people. And out of all my new tango friends, one of the dearest to me is Laila. Laila and I have performed together (she's a much better dancer than me) and she's a joy to spend time with. So, I'm very happy Laila agreed to contribute to this tango blog to tell her story of how she came to tango.

Take it away Laila...

Tango Fever, Part One
From Laila

"Finally, I can walk. I thought I could learn to walk correctly in just a few lessons. Then I realized it would take many more than that. Several years later, I’m able to walk like a tanguera, a tango dancer. And since I can walk like a tanguera, I should be able to dance like one. After all, tango is simply “walking to the music.” However, I discovered that the path from walking to tangoing is extensive, fraught with bumps and twists and tangles, challenges I gladly took on because of the flame that touched me one night at the theater.

The spark for my love affair with Argentine tango began several years ago. As a salsera and aficionada of Afro-Cuban dance music for many years, I thought no other musical genre could move me with such passion. But I began to hunger for something more – not to replace salsa but to add another musical genre to my dance palate. When I heard that Argentine tango was, like salsa, hot and spicy, I bought a ticket for Luis Brava’s theatrical production, Tango Argentino, when it toured San Francisco in the 1980’s. So riveting was the first dance number that I left my seat and watched the rest of the show standing in the wings. The steamy connections between the men and the women and their fiery, passionate moves mesmerized me. I was puzzled by the intricacies of the steps, danced to the complex sounds of two great Argentinean masters - Osvaldo Pugliese and Astor Piazzola, among others. How could a dancer, with her torso flush against her partner’s, kick her right leg back and up high, as if she were striking a match between her partner’s legs – right on beat with the music? How could a lead dancer lift his partner chest high and swing her over one of his legs where she would land and melt into a backbend over one of his thighs? The flames these tangueros generated permeated the theater. My dancing spirit lept onto the stage and joined the other dancers until the final chord of the bandoneon sounded. I left the theater artistically fulfilled -and hungry to learn to dance Argentine tango, which I thought as feasible as dancing salsa with Antonio Banderas on the moon.

Several years later, I saw The Tango Lesson, an independent film by Sally Potter, about a middle-aged, English woman and her interest in learning to dance the tango. Her success inspired this mid-life woman to start my tango quest. The very next afternoon, the man in line in front of me at the grocery store was wearing a Tango Argentino T-shirt and spoke English with an Italian-Spanish accent. Argentinean, I presumed. “Yes, I study tango with Nora at the Mission Cultural Center,” he told me.

The following Saturday morning, I enrolled in my first tango lesson."


Tara said...

Bravo Laila! I really enjoyed your creative and fluid writing. I'm hoping since your title is "Tango Fever (Part 1) that there will be a Part 2 coming soon???

Laila said...

Hello Tara,
Thank you so much for your feedback. This piece marks my stepping out of my "writing closet!" I'm glad you enjoyed Part 1 and yes, Part 2 will be along soon.

Carla said...

Hello Laila, Bravo, Bravissimo! Beijos, Carlinha