After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Imagine a large leafy square with fountains and huge trees, surrounded on four sides by the colorful arcades of ancient colonial buildings. Imagine the kiss of a chocolate scented breeze on your skin. Imagine a concert band playing a classical concert under the trees, with elderly couples rising casually from their benches to dance an elegant and sophisticated Danzon.
I didn’t have to imagine it, because I was in Oaxaca, a state capital city in southern Mexico that is as breathtaking as everyone says it is. Oaxaca is the second poorest state in Mexico but one of the richest in tradition, cuisine, culture, and natural beauty. I could have chosen no better vacation spot for the week I was away from my home in San Miguel de Allende, twelve hours north by bus.
I had lunch outside in the Zocalo, a tasty chicken dish with one of the six types of mole sauce that are Oaxacan specialties. The many colossal balloon clusters of invisible vendors seemed like eerie, silent witnesses to the life in the plaza. They bobbed, pulsed, breathed, appearing to me like living plastic and mylar beings of great wisdom. Zocalo life could come and go, but the balloons saw it all and weren’t telling.
Returning to my hotel, I glanced into the courtyard of an ancient building and saw dancers moving together without music. Stopping I looked harder because what they were doing reminded me of tango. A closer look told me it was tango, or was supposed to be.
Unable to help myself, I went inside and asked a seated woman if this was a rehearsal for a dance performance. No, it seemed this was a tango class! Well, I said, I am a tourist here, but I am a tango dancer.
The class came to a sudden halt, and I was swept toward the teacher, a skinny toothless old man. Someone punched play on the boombox, and nothing would do but the old man and I had to dance a tango together for the camcorder! After what was a very painful experience because he hadn’t a clue how to dance but must have picked up some choreography from Rudolf Valentino movies, they turned the video camera on me and asked me to dance solo!! So I did, I danced a solo tango which is now preserved on video in Oaxaca, Mexico!
I talked to some of the students, danced with young Alejandro and exchanged email addresses, and I sashayed on my way feeling like a movie star...