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Monday, March 23, 2009

no use hands

No, Luis!… use chest for make move lady, yes. And for make stop her, no use hands… Intenshion, Lui, intenshion.

I despaired. Only Uri Geller, I thought, could get one of these (abstract) “ladies” gracefully around a dance floor. This was meant to be fun, not an exercise in psychokinesis.

My class was in Constitucion, in a windowless room lit with six compact fluorescents. I was dancing inside a fly-zapper to music… how shall I say, the music was like an old carousel – creaky, violins on one end, bandoneons on the other – turning in circles of sadness and suffering. I’m a Croat; we do not get together as a nation and bare our souls; we cry in private.

The compacts flickered. My mind flickered and then my attention drifted and I squashed his foot with my heel. Dagostino! he cried in my ear. First, I thought how inefficient these Argentines, four syllables to say, ouw! But then it occurred to me that, like their music, these people are just comprehensive in their suffering. I apologized with many syllables of my own, but he interrupted – No, no, dé music, Lui. Thees music are D’Agostino. Angel D’Agostino.

I understood and we carried on walking… yes, walking; this all we did in this dance class, we walked. We did laps inside the fly-zapper, no faster than the carousel, no slower than the carousel. And as I walked these crude circles with his hands on my chest – for make move lady – I thought of spoons bending and women – porteñas – melting in mi abrazo, my embrace: curious, Croatian, unlike the hairy-armed bracket of machos here, soft yet dangerous – yes – like the Aegean, like –

Luis, no use hands… wi’ dé chest… intenshion.

Yes, yes, intention, of course. But after so many more laps, he began to explain that tango is as much about standing still as it is about moving (unbend that spoon, Uri, can you do that?). Listen, he said pointing to Dagostino in my ear. Listen, yes…NOW!

Now what?

No move, Lui.

A violin cried, the singer waned and we stood still.

Briefly, finally, I was myself again, at ease, my mind in its habitual cadence: I thought of my backyard in Zagreb, the old shrub in the corner and the dead cat under the vines my friend Drago used to disinter every year on a specific day; he’d bring his own spade from his house and –

Now, Luis, walk… Luis!

… Luis!

LUIS!