Tango Dancing in the Fervid Night

People say dancing–all dancing–is like sex, but I think it’s closer to creation. One has to have the energy, first of all, and the need to burn off the past and create a future in its ashes.  Yeah, that’s about right.  It’s been a long hard week atop a stack of weeks. Is the moon full? Without looking, I suspect yes. A stretchy lace top and, over winter leggings, a black skirt cut short in front and rippling long at the back with a sassy pleather bow I like to tie low so it can flick  like a tail. Coat and hat and scarf and, oh yes, don’t forget the red stilettos, then it’s into the winter on a whim and a whisper that yes, it’s about time to get some dancing in.

The studio is warm and welcoming, lights laid low, female laughter lilting high above the music, male voices interjecting below. It’s good to be remembered and welcomed back, no questions asked, just enjoying the moment by moment.

We flaunt our bodies for many reasons, but first and foremost because we’ve earned that right: our form is good and we are present and aware.  It took me years to find my style within the confines of form. I sit on the sidelines a while and listen to the music, let it seep in.  It’s been months, yes, but not much has changed.  This winter’s been long and people look careworn, but here their eyes shine. Some spaces are sacred, and here is our place for rejuvenation. So much sensation. And with it, emotion.  I’ve seen entire lives and relationships played out on the dance floor. Is the moon full? I don’t look out the windows, because it doesn’t really matter.  It’s winter still, but spring is in the air, and we are hungry for relief.

To partner-dance well requires musicality and discipline and above all the desire to share with one’s partner. The music, the dance, the endlessly improvised steps, both formal and embellished. Only within them, within the stately measures of each tanda, each set of songs, are explored the exquisite ranges of emotion set off by another’s skin and breath.  We greet each other and dance together and set ourselves free. Sweat rises to surface and makes us flushed and fervent. Fervid.

It’s not like episodic sex; it’s more meaningful than that. My partners are numerous and transient, but each plays a meaningful part, moment by moment. In dancing, we embrace lust and love and joy and sadness and yearning–all the things that make us human. Creation and creativity in ceaseless motion. Our birthright. Another winter, another spring, another evening in the season of our lives.

It’s good to dance again, now that I’m no longer compelled by it. It’s time, then, to let loose the next book. You see, it’s a novel about dance, and I’ve been dancing with the writing of it for quite some time.


~ by Shirley Kwan on March 2, 2013.

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