It takes two to tango, plus some toothpaste and deodorant

by Sara Knight

I’ve danced a little here and there, turned up the music and shown the broom a good time (my favorite because the broom lets me lead). So when I was scouring a local events calendar, the listing for informal tango practice from 5-7 Sunday caught my eye.

I pictured suave men with roses clenched in their teeth seducing sexy women in red dresses. But this is Durango, that couldn’t be right. I wondered, what exactly does tango look like in Durango? Bearded men with kale in their mouths seducing women in yoga pants?

I don’t really do sexy, and I have a general aversion to being groped by rose-toting strangers, but dancing is fun and kale is OK. Sunday evening at 5:10 after Googling the location twice, I still missed the little red building on South U.S. 160. Once I finally found it and parked, I wondered, should I have worn a dress?

Here are a few things I should have wondered instead:

1. Did I wear the right shoes?

A nice older gentleman greeted me at the door, clean shaven but not exactly a seductive Casanova. After the usual introductions, we both looked at my feet as he asked hopefully, “Did you bring other shoes?”

That’s when I looked at the 10 other people. Apparently I was right about the yoga pants, but most people had also brought their dancing shoes. How had I expected to be swept around the room in my frozen tennis shoes? Thankfully I wasn’t the only one who had to dance in her socks.

I did my best to follow along in the barre exercises without tipping over or slipping around too much, mostly succeeding. By 5:45, it was time to practice what we had learned.

Wait … practice? I had been focusing so hard on not slipping around that I hadn’t actually retained a thing. I’m not ready to tango!

The man who had greeted me at the door grabbed my hand and pulled me close. This brings me to the second question.

2. Did I remember to brush my teeth and wear deodorant?

“There are two ways to dance tango,” he explained, either in a full-on embrace, or just right in front of one another. I’m not sure which is better. Either you’re hugging a complete stranger or he’s looking you in the face.

So there I was in my Durango casual with socks on my feet, clinging for dear life to a strange man as he did his best to sweep me around our small corner of the dance floor. That’s when it occurred to me (and probably him) that in my rush to be less late I had skipped two important hygiene steps before leaving the house.

Of course, the breath issue could be avoided if I hugged in a little closer and breathed over his shoulder. But because of my general discomfort with excessive proximity to strangers, the deodorant issue became more urgent. Maybe that’s the real reason men clench rose stems in their teeth for this dance.

I thought that song would never end. Then it did, and I found myself dancing face to face with another older gentleman who smelled so wonderfully of soap. I might have cried had I not been desperately trying to get the steps right.

That brings me to the final question.

3. Does it really take two to tango?

Yes. One to lead and one to turn her brain off and stop trying to control everything. I like to know what’s coming next and I like to be in charge. That’s why I like dancing with the broom.

After spending three quarters of the class fighting it, I finally gave up. I didn’t have a breath mint, was lacking in the deodorant department, I didn’t have shoes and I didn’t know the steps. So I just closed my eyes, held on tight and tried not to think about any of it.

And it worked. I made it through at least one full song without messing up too noticeably. I won’t stop practicing on the broom, but at least now I know that the Durango tango is not an exclusive club for hot Latin men and sultry women. Next time I’ll brush my teeth, though.


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