A between-jobs vacation was all Angelo expected from Buenos Aires. When it turned into a holiday fling, he wasn’t about to say no.
Ramon’s impulsive trip to Argentina started off as a disaster. The cute dance teacher offering a room share? An early Christmas present. The night dancing tango? A revelation.
The next week turns into a series of great dates, the kind that would take months to set up in real life. By day two, they both wish they’d met long ago, in California, where they both grew up. But while Ramon’s heading back there, Angie’s bound for North Carolina.
Angie leaves Argentina with a head full of plans and wishes, but no regrets. Ramon goes home with a plan of his own, determined to turn some wishes into reality. On New Year’s Day, Angie finds Ramon on his doorstep. Will they find a way to dance into the future together?
We walked on for a while without speaking. I could hear the gears turning in Angie’s brain. He had to know that the only reason for me to mention my sexuality was to open a door. When he finally spoke again it was with a lifted hand, pointing to a building down the street. “That’s the place.” People were standing around outside, smoking and laughing. Music poured out the open door.
“Is it going to be okay if I just sit and watch? I don’t know tango.”
“Oh sure. But there’s bound to be people who ask you to dance. Ask them to teach you. Everybody loves a beginner.”
“Well, a beginner who looks like you.” Oh. Oh. We stopped walking again, and he was smiling at me again, a different kind of smile. “You dance, though, right?”
I nodded. “Salsa, merengue, rumba, cha-cha. A little waltz like they do at quinceañeras.” We stared at each other for a second, then I ventured, “I did some Googling while you were in the shower and it said that men can dance together at milongas. Like it’s no big deal. Not necessarily a sex thing.”
“True, true, and true. They’ll play a set of songs, usually three, that’s called a tanda. You dance with one partner for those three songs, then choose another partner. If you want, you could just watch for the first three and then, maybe, you could dance with me.”
It sounded like a question. “I’d like that.”
* * * *
Oh my God. Oh my God. I knew, okay, I knew that tango was sexy. I knew you could lose yourself in the music, and I knew that Angie was a professional dancer, and if there was ever a combination of circumstances that would lead to a great night out dancing it was this combination right here. But oh my God.
I did as he suggested during the first tanda, watching from the sidelines. Tried to be an impartial observer, studying different couples to see what they were doing with the music, but my gaze kept returning to Angie. As soon as we went through the door half a dozen people came up to him. Shaking hands, kissing his cheek, slapping his back, jabbering in rapid Spanish that I had a little trouble following because it wasn’t quite the Spanish I grew up with. He introduced me to everyone. Made sure they knew I could dance but didn’t know tango. Everyone said they’d find me later, and maybe they meant it.
But I hoped they didn’t. Because after the cortina when Angie came to find me, and after we started to dance, I didn’t want to dance with anyone else. Like, ever.
He was teaching me, obviously, because -- he said -- when I danced with someone else there were specific things I, as a follower, should know how to read. But maybe because he had all those years of ballroom experience, he used a lot of vocabulary I recognized. Here a cross body lead from salsa, there a hesitation step from waltz; here a series of rock steps as in rumba, there a syncopation like cha-cha.
The killer, though, the killer is the dance position. You can dance tango in an open hold; I saw several couples doing that. Angie didn’t give me the option. He slid his right arm around my back, tucking me so close my face was practically in his hair. “Follow my body,” he said softly.
And I thought, helplessly, I’ll follow you anywhere.