It wasn’t spiritual – Saul on the road to Damascus, St. Eustace and the gleaming cross of the hart in the wood.
Nor scientific – Archimedes “Eureka” as his marble bathtub filled to the brim; Newton’s “ouch” as a falling ripe red ‘Ribston Pippin’ crowned him.
I stood, awkwardly, facing Debbie Coutts; she was dressed as her alter-ego Rosario Nascimento; fiery frills and gilt adornments.
She had dimmed the lighting but even in that low amber glow I could see and sense her disappointment. The corners of her mouth turned down, her voice sharpened. She was very unhappy with my performance.
“Look at me Dennis, look into my eyes as if you want to devour me” I squirmed and shuffled.
“Hips Dennis”, she emphasised, “I want gyration”.
“Pelvis Dennis, I want thrust and more thrust”.
“Now, let’s do it again”. She grasped my left hand, held it high, and pulled my right arm around her waist and pressing close ordered “Alexa, play Hugo Diaz, Tango Por Amantes”.
“Vamos” she instructed.
Tango was not my comfort zone. I had jived, twisted, frugged and smooched, watsuied, hully gullied and mashed potatoed with the best; but ballroom?
Stiff, stuffy, bow-tied and tailcoated men holding beehived women in off-the-shoulder organza or taffeta – no, no, never.
I was learning tango at my daughter Seren’s insistence. She was to marry a handsome, highly educated and stunningly wealthy Argentinian who had ticked all her boxes especially the last one. Their extravagant, meticulously planned wedding at Villa Ephrussi in Cap Ferrat demanded that, post ceremony, in a festival of dance, I would accompany her in a tango to honour her new husband’s roots.
Firstly, Seren would, as tradition demanded, dance a waltz with her new husband Alejandro, secondly a foxtrot with her new father-in-law. Thirdly, Seren and I would tango. I was determined to impress as fourth to dance was Sandy, my ex and Seren’s Mum, with her new partner, Trixie. They would dance the Bossa Nova.
At the end of my lesson with Debbie/Rosario, she had reached frustration point.
“Immersion Dennis” she advised.
“Come to my Thursday evening milonga – 3 hours of Latin pose and posture at the Dance Attic.”
What did I have to lose?
The Dance Attic should have been called the Dance Cavern – it was in the basement of the sports centre.
I was the only male amongst 13 females, 12 lycra clad students and Debbie/Rosario wearing hooped earrings, a ruched scarlet blouse, black mini-skirt, fishnets and 6” stiletto heels.
My “Grow your own cannabis” t-shirt and army surplus Italian parachutists combat trousers didn’t fit the ambience.
Debbie/Rosario explained – “We are going to test you Dennis – the girls will take you alphabetically – 3 hours, non-stop – lets start with Alison and when we get to Rhonda we’ll give you our verdict”.
Combat trousers weren’t such a bad idea!
Two hours and 45 minutes later, Rhonda stood before me, dark haired, blue-eyed and smiling.
“I’m last Dennis, here’s the verdict – you can’t tango! You’re longing for the past, fearful of the future, can’t be – and this is crucial – in the moment: But, Dennis, come closer, relax and move, with me, not against me, feel it. Yes! Let’s Rhumba!”