Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Tango and the Hookah Bar

Do you remember when I told you the story of that magical restaurant in New York City that Cat took me and Jere to, when I was there for my birthday? The place where the opera singers came and sat around drinking with friends, while the piano player did requests and they all sang OPERA? For fun? It was a convergence night. Everything turned up as wonderfully as it could, the beautiful white haired gentleman owner, the free drinks, the just sitting there in awe for hours not wanting to leave. And then when we came out, the empty city air of the street and the lights.

Those nights can't be planned at all, because even though you'll go back there, and probably bring friends and tell them how awesome it is, you'll never quite bring back the shared discovery of the whole thing. The feeling of sitting there with someone else being completely entranced. And that feeling doesn't happen if anyone is aware of what they're in for when they arrive.

I mean, so we knew it was a hookah bar, which is why we went there. And we knew there were dance lessons happening that night. But I had misheard salsa when he told me. Salsa is a lot different than tango. I like salsa, believe me, I think salsa is fucking amazing sometimes, and so much fun. But tango is...it just totally evokes everything you think is romantic. Not silly kissy romantic, but serious, life or death, Paris refugee in South America, bare light bulb and cheap bottle of wine, smuggling guns for the resistance, cigarettes romantic. Combine that with being there with your writing group, everyone's notebook out in front of them, drinks, sipping mint flavored tobacco in a dimly lit rim? Yeah, fucking good luck with that. You're dead, you're stuck. That's a Henry Miller tar trap is what that is. That's Rudolph Valentino day dreams for the next 6 weeks, easy.

And the instructor, who looked just like a bit character from SyFy Channel, until he started talking. Then he still looked like the bit player, but the version you would allow to pick you up, and probably marry, and have lots of kids with. Cause that is apparently what knowing how to tango does for you. It doesn't matter how old, or plain you are, or what kind of weird nose you have, or if you totally popped your collar (and I can't even believe anyone does that anymore), if you are good at it, and have the right expression, you are just walking sex. It's sort of unbelievable. Meaning, I have read descriptions of people thinking this, but thought they were full of it. Now I know better. I am so sorry for ever thinking your descriptions too flowery. It is completely that kind of thing, and it sort of bites down on your soul.

There was this song they were playing during the beginner lesson, which kept starting and stopping as they gave instructions, teaching the girls how to walk backwards. I got the name from the instructor during the break, and then Andrew also got it and ran back to write it down for me, because it was that good of a song. La Poema. Francisco Canaro. This is not the song playing right now, though it's by the same orchestra. I can't seem to steal a good copy of this particular song, so I'm going to have to buy it, and I will immediately, and add it to the volumes of tango music now on my computer. I had no idea I loved it this much. It's rediscovering the waltz and the military march at the same time. Add in the huge blowings winds, dark gray skies, and rain all day today, and geez whiz, you can see where I'm at. I'm thrown is what I am. I'm tossed for a loop.

My mom and dad have this one poster, and its been our house since I was little, usually hanging by the stairs. It's exactly like this.

M.Berre, 1955


  1. don't buy stuff.

    is this the one?


  2. Sigh. I had the worst experience of my life at Kan Zaman. That may be a slight overstatement, but not much.

  3. A - Yes! Thank you. I seriously went through so much crap, and I was like, this is famous! Why can't I find it!

    L- I mean, did someone die?

  4. I have the perfect bar picked out next time you visit. Ok maybe I picked out seventeen bars because you're going to stay here a full month but I know which one we're going to start at.

  5. So you mean, when I lose my job and come live with you?

    And want to spend every moment of my waking life drunk with you?


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