“Daddy, what does ‘anglicize’ mean…?”
On the top floor of an old 100-year-old warehouse on Avenido Peru in the 450-year-old neighbourhood of San Telmo, in Buenos Aires, Argentina –
where there is no air conditioning and the beer is $2 a litre – where the live bands pay tribute to the great Tango singers of old: Carlos Gardel, Rosita Barrios, and Manuel Pizarro –
and where they also re-invent Tango to the beat of today’s crowd –
where young and old alike come to dance, and talk politics, discuss the failing Argentine economy, and whisper still, of the disappeared –
where men dream the Siren’s dream while staring at the curls of a woman’s hair matted against her sweaty neck –
dancing a dance of pure passion – sublimely controlled –
a dance from that time of strict cultural rules of decorum and Spanish fury-
in music that can be traced back to the milanga and the habanera, and further back still to Africa –
the restrained Conquistador and his heavy-lidded maiden –
where the hand barely touches the small of the back and the maiden looks into his eyes and instinctively follows him every step.
In this warehouse where lust, heat, history, and politics meet – people have come to dance the Tango.
And now, here I am, in Halifax, and I see a poster on the board in my local public library.
Tea and Tango
Thursday afternoons at 2:30
In the basement of the Lutheran Church.
And I think of dancing the Tango,
under the fluorescent lights of a church basement,
with a shelf of dusty bibles sitting along a panelled wall.