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.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
The Scent of a Man
It's almost summer in Buenos Aires, and I'm reminded of an old diary entry:
To dance Argentine tango properly is difficult for many Americans because there must be a deep embrace. And a woman pressing her breasts against the chest of a perfect stranger, and combining her breath with his as their faces melt together in the perspiration of the dance, is just not too Puritan, our American tradition. Americans want their space, godammit.
So while a couple is in this deep, intimate embrace on the public dance floor, all sensuous antennae are working overtime; in tango you must really listen to the music, you feel your partner, and you inhale each other. the only sense a woman doesn't use is that of sight. Most of the time, if the tango experience is a good one, the woman's eyes are closed. She's in a trance.
After several dances with the same partners, you begin to recognize their scent. Take Alberto from Argentina for example. Young, tall, bronze, perfect white teeth, broad shoulders, the only man I ever met who can successfully carry off gold chains under his shirt. He wears so much Tuscany cologne that the next morning I can still smell it on my skin, and I get a rush.
Sasha was born in the Ukraine, lived in Italy for a while until he could arrange his immigration papers to the United States. Like most European men, he doesn't use deodorant. It's been very hot here in L.A. this summer, and when I dance with Sasha, so very close, I can smell his underarm odor. And I like it.
Then there are some Americans I dance with, held far enough away that it's possible to see their faces and talk--but talking is forbidden in tango. All of your attention needs to be on the senses, and listening is to hear the music, not a conversation. Most of the time with these partners, I don't smell anything, and I don't feel anything.
So there it is, my own personal gross generalizations: I have found that Latino men invariable smell delicious, European men have BO in hot weather, and Americans are sense-free.
And the truth is, if the man is sexy and appealing to me, and a wonderful dancer, I don't give a darn. But perhaps it is true for me, that emanating from an otherwise attractive man, some scent is more sensuous than none.
(Images by Maggie Taylor.)