May 25, 2012

Whiskey Bravo Tango


You missed quite a night last night.  It started with cocktails, delicious and strong drinks served by men with shaved heads and handlebar mustaches.  Nicole can handle her liquor.  Must be her Irish genes.  I saw the ring Jeremy designed for her.  He fretted over the details for months but it was worth it: a gleaming orb of gold, green and bling.  It somehow looks antique and super-modern.  Definitely one of a kind.  Drinks done, we walked over to the restaurant where Jonathan, Shelley, Ora and Rob were meeting us.  My friend Phil runs the place and he gave us the VIP treatment: red velvet banquette, Champagne on the house, dance music providing a mellow throb while we ate tuna and bruschetta and pasta and salmon and artichokes and wine, more wine! and chocolate and cheese and blueberries and cream as the music started to pulse with more urgency, as models and old perverts and bachelorettes and wall street wannabes got up around us and filled the restaurant floor, dancing and grooving.  How could we resist?  One last toast for the newly engaged and then we joined the dance party, our own little circle boogie.  Nicole and Jeremy were beaming, the place was was something to see.  The dinner party wound down.  Jonathan and Shelley peeled off to make the drive back to Englewood.  I thought the night was over, and what a night it had been but no - Rob convinced us (he's good at it) to make one more stop at the cafe at the Spanish Historical Society, over on 14th and 8th.  Thursday is Tango Night. You wouldn't have believed it.  Stepping into the club was like a wormhole to Europe, the romanticized Europe Americans crave, where people are gentler and more alive.  Dimly lit room, some soft lights strung from wall to wall, a large wood dance floor surrounded by metal chairs that lined the brick walls on three sides (the same chairs you'd see at a shul kiddush).  On the fourth side of the dance floor was a small stage.  The DJ played soft and slow orchestral music.  The dance floor was filled with people of all ages and colors, the melting pot we aspire to be. (I have been here 18 years, but that might be the first time I have referred to myself as a true New Yorker)  Rob handed out bottles of beer while we watched the dancers, as others waited expectantly in the metal chairs for the song to end, and for the next song to begin, and for all the new partnerships that would then give way to the next song, and the next group of dance partners, and on it would go.  But then the DJ stopped the music and said something in Spanish, and everyone cleared the floor.  We pressed against one of the brick walls and waited.  After a few moments, a couple standing right next to us made their way out to the empty dance floor.  He had a beard and was wearing a pinstriped blue suit and pink tie.  She was dressed gypsy-style.  The music started.  The dancers held each other very close and very still, then their feet started to move in small steps.  They pivoted, moved forward, backward, always as one.  their strides became longer, their turns more dramatic.  The music stopped.  The crowd applauded and demanded another.  The dancers obliged.  The second dance ended.  A third dance was demanded.  The dancers never broke a sweat.  They moved slowly, with purpose.  Can something be "solemnly joyful"?  That's how it felt to watch them dance.  Like maybe there's still hope for all of us.  The tango is hard to perform but easy to explain: You press your hearts together and you float around the room.

- Josh

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