I arrived at the West London Synagogue on a Thursday night. Clad in trainers, shin splints aching, I had no idea how I was going to get through an hour and a half of Tango at this incongruous location of a dance school.
Jenni, grande dame of the establishment filled me in. “We’re the only school in the UK – as far as I know – that give you a guaranteed dance partner. Not only that but they’re all professional dancers.”
I thought about how many Salsa sessions I’d attended in the past where I’d been paired up with another woman or worse still a heavily sweating unattractive man with roaming hands. I looked forward to a different experience.
“Now, this is the intermediate class for Tango, so it’s going to be a bit difficult for you” Jenni told me commandeering a passing dancer while she spoke. I was introduced to Paul to whom she said ‘She’s never done this before, so just do what you can’ before rushing off to attend to other clients arriving for the evening’s entertainment. “Just follow him!” she called out hurriedly.
My dancing partner told me he was from Lithuania and had been ballroom dancing professionally for four years. I started talking nervously like I’ve done since time immemorial when I anticipate a man holding me in his arms on a dance floor. “Um, I’m wearing trainers because I’ve got shin splints, in fact I’m a bit dyslexic too”… “Really?” said Paul. “Don’t worry, you’re very brave to come and do Tango if you’re only done some Salsa before.”
I skipped over to Jenni. A diminutive supple looking gentleman had entered with two rather glamorous looking ladies. ‘That’s Alex” said Jenni glancing over. “He’s the Tango teacher. The girls are his entourage, they always come with him.”
Some Argentinian flavoured music started as Paul turned to me. I cautiously held onto his arms. It was no use. I needed to concentrate. I tried to follow but several embarrassing ‘dances’ later I was no further on.
Paul stopped and facing me looked directly into my eyes. “There is something missing. I don’t know what it is, but I’m not feeling a connection. I don’t feel you with me…together with me.”
Perhaps it was the firmness and heartfelt plea of his words that moved me.
The music started again. I allowed myself to relinquish control, not think and move with him.
It was fabulous. When he turned me so that my right leg kicked out – proper Tango style, I shrieked with delight. We felt connected, it was magic and like every piano exam I ever took – paralysed with nerves to start with – at the end I wanted to do it all over again.