A Mesmerizingly Sensual Tango Show

Jackie Steves is guest-hosting her Dad’s blog with 17 posts in 17 days. Follow the adventures of Andy and Jackie Steves as they — the first Steves to venture into South America — report on their experience.

Nicole, four British girls, Andy, and I were picked up and transported to a small dance studio for a short lesson. In a dance style with strict gender roles, it was necessary that our teacher instruct both genders once at a time.

The girl takes one step toward the guy, the guy one step back. Both take one to the side. The guy two steps forward, the girl two steps back. Another one to the side. Then the guy leads the girl from side to side as she pivots sensuously on her feet. Then the final pose, with the guy’s leg slid out and the female’s lifted up and curved around the male’s extended leg. We learned this in three sections, practicing after each new addition.

The woman never asks, but is only asked by the males. The instructor shouts “switch partners” frequently so that you’re never with the same partner for long. I wished I had a swanky tango dress and glittering stilettos to complete the transformation into a tango dancer.

The lesson only lasted an hour and then we were all shown into the dining room and served dinner. I swear, people from other countries fall more deeply in love with one another then Americans do. As I look around at couples here on a date, it is a sight I’m unaccustomed to because few Americans look into their lover’s eyes so intently and speak with such loving animation with one another.

I wish I got a picture that better captured the spirit of tango, but this is the only one I got.

Enlarge photo

For dessert we were served ice cream, as well as a spellbinding tango performance. It consisted mainly of three dancing couples and a couple of male alto singers. It told the history of tango, which dates back to the late 19th century, through dance. So incredibly sexy! Andy remarked afterward that he was impressed at how all the eyes of the females in the room were absolutely glued to the dancers for the entire show. They moved their legs as fast as a tap dancer, but their movements were instead graceful cursive twirls. The dancers displayed a level of harmony as perfect as a world-renowned choir. I could watch this dance for hours and barely blink an eye, that’s how hooked I was. People say tango is mesmerizing. Now I know what they mean.

Tango seemed a bit sexist in that the man always leads and the woman always follows. On the other hand, however, it is a style of dance that truly showcases the woman. All eyes are on her — her glamorous dress, her glimmering visage, her sultry legs, and her elegant movements. The men all look alike in pinstripe suits, merely acting as pointers to the women, who look powerful in their silver heels and steely assurance.

Afterward, we hopped a cab with Nicole to Palermo, the young hot nightlife district. But it was only midnight, far too early to hit up the club. So we snuggled into a fireplace-warmed pub, the most elegant of pubs I’ve ever been to. Few were the couples. Instead, small groups of friends conversed around small round tables — all so well-dressed! No one seemed to care they were packed in like sardines.

We made friends with a couple who shared our table. “We’re just friends,” she claimed. “He does my hair.” Two minutes later we were left to our own conversation as they French kissed for an extended period of time. “What?” I thought, “They do this in such a graceful bar??” But somehow it seemed to fit. It was totally different from the trashy DFTs (“dance floor makeouts”) you witness in college — just two lovers indulging in each others’ lips.

Before we knew it, it was time to go to the club, the reason why we trekked to this neighborhood. Club 69! Thursday night was drag show night. We paid what felt like an arm and a leg for the cover and coat check compared to the pennies we were paying for other things (in this very affordable city). I watched with amusement as Andy’s eyes grew big at the sight of transvestites strutting their stuff across the stage. We danced, watched, drank, took pics with the drag queens, danced, watched, drank, got tired, and cabbed it home.