Dancing inside the Hub

The international banking district had changed since I last trod the boards of Liverpool Street many, many (Thatcher) years back. Posh sandwich bars had sprung up everywhere along with swanky Mediterranean style bars, bistros and – gasp – whatever happened to the traditional East London, pub? Or where for thou art was this wonderful piece of London history? Aaah - but there was the Gherkin. That modern piece of phallic architecture taking on a whole new meaning of the Mother Ship and screaming reminding any outsider to this world of finance that they clearly do not belong. Of course, you needn't be informed of your arrival – just take a look at the expensively tailored suits walking around in their designer glasses with mobile phones pressed to their ears, treating the pavement as if it were their trading desks. Each step you take an array of accents from across the EU and the Orient. Hmm - this was not my world. But…just for 4 hours yesterday evening it did become mine. This was my world as the outdoor piazza with the large canopy surrounded by large designer office blocks transformed itself into a space for milongero/as. Tango had arrived and the Gherkin just had to look on and do nothing. It was our time to demonstrate to a Square Miler how to navigate a bad deal into an expertly crafted one. And there were many standing on the outside looking in with their office bags now consigned to the concrete as their owners clutched at glasses of champagne or pints of beer. I arrived at the start with the help of a map (like I said, many years since…) to see that an introductory class was taking place. The class ended to a loud cheer and one brave lone soul marched to the middle, dumped their knapsack down, removed their shoes, swapped their shoes, removed the jacket and tie and then promptly went over to a woman and asked her for a dance. For a wee while there were just these two people dancing as we all (tangeros along with non-tangeros) looked upon the. Another person eventually followed suit. Down with the bag, coat and shoes. And another and another and soon piazza's hub resembled a gigantic bon before the fire. Many an unrecognisable face was in attendance but with this alien population came such skill, grace and beauty in their dancing. Every man I watched and with whom I danced was not only at an advanced level but an accomplished level (there is a difference). One fellow I just sat and watched him walk around the line of dance (said line being enforced thanks to the heap of personal belongings heaped up in the middle of the square). He led his partner no fancy moves (apart from a delicate ocho and soft giro here and there) just walking. Walking with style, with attitude and walking (of course) with s*x just dripping off of him. He was a dream to watch and he was as elegant as they came. Watching me, watching him, my friend leaned into me and said, "He's a teacher. An Argentinian" (Need I be surprised eh?)

An elderly lady came and sat next to me and whispered, "I've seen you lead, your lead is brilliant, will you lead me as I don't think any of these guys will dance with me". She's only been dancing a year. She thought herself too much of a beginner and "too old". I surveyed the area and knew as I knew my own name that despite the level of ALL of these chaps (and the level of ladies on offer), one of them would dance with this lady beside me. But first. I had to show her off. And we did one tanda and then another before taking her back to the seating area. A fellow paused in my tracks and asked me to dance. He worked in the area and hailed from Tel Aviv and only in London for a few months. Just at the right time – milonga music. Yay! He was brilliant. When I got back, the woman was missing. I spotted her dancing with one of the Accomplished. (Yay-er!!) and a big grin appeared on my face – but not bigger than the one she had when she returned to her space beside me. And so was the start of many a chap that later asked her to dance. Big grin!!

Tango'ing in the fresh air does indeed bring a difference to a milonga: the outside cool air having a different impact on how it is we behave? The breath being the source of life therefore having in impact on how we breathe thus determining how we behave. The air was cool but not cold and the sun that was earlier bright in the sky, the last remnants of the British Indian summer left us all feeling salubriously chilled, healthily forgiving as well as respectful of our fellow dancers (so rarely seen in a milonga that is held on the inside). All in all a brilliant and successful evening for one and all and if, only momentarily, a welcome respite for the non-tangoing City Traders – if only to say there is indeed peace and harmony to be seen and felt – despite the current financial meltdown. :applause:

Note: To be repeated all over again on 16th October

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