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Monday, September 10, 2007


Today was one of those days on public transportation where you wished you had a big gas-guzzling limo and driver to take you wherever. Home, Jeeves.

We were all hanging, like so many sides of beef, suspended from bars and handles, not that any of us could have fallen even if we wanted to. There was no where to move in the crush of bodies on the N-Judah.

Since it was hard to ponder anything else, I wondered why it was that this same type of contact, in the arena of the dance, is pleasurable, and yet the same type of closeness on a commuter train causes such stress and displeasure and whining.

I think what struck me most is that even though both situations require us to be physically close, often with total strangers who we'll never see again, that the need to be embraced or to embrace is what is paramount. In our day-to-day lives, it's so hard to get a passersby to even meet your eye, let alone smile at you. So how do we change so much from this public persona to such an intimate embrace? The person you are sandwiched next to on the train could just as easily be your dance partner at a milonga later that night. Maybe they should try playing tango music on the trains and see if we all get a little more comfortable with the commute.


Anonymous September 10, 2007 at 10:36 PM  

What a brilliant idea. But I think they should play Tango everywhere!

We can surrender in a Tango embrace to a total stranger, but cringe at touching a stranger in any other setting, because the milonga has very strict rules about that sort of thing. The music stops, so does the embrace. Unless you don't want it to :-)

Colbay September 11, 2007 at 2:04 AM  

TangoBaby... you must read copiously--it shows in the quality of your writing, and I'm thankful for it.

You're a francophone as well, n'est-ce pas? As-tu lu _Voyage au Bout de la Nuit_ de Céline? _Un Roi sans Divertissement_ de Giono? _L'Amant_ de Duras?

I can't wait to see you tomorrow at El V.!

Anonymous September 11, 2007 at 8:21 AM  

colbay.... not to split cheveux with you, but perhaps you meant a FRANCOPHILE? I hear francophones don't work that well on US networks... :-)

Anonymous September 11, 2007 at 7:07 PM  

What a great post. You are amazing.

Colbay September 11, 2007 at 7:33 PM  

Hi Joanna...

It's one of those semantics things I guess :) The way people now use "hopefully;" possibly a losing battle.

I think "francophone" refers to a French-speaking person, although I suppose it technically means someone who comes from a French-speaking country...

I am also a francophile, though, it is true :)

Anonymous September 11, 2007 at 7:53 PM  

I love this... I have always said that salsa (and in your case tango) gives us the rare opportunity to make an intense, real, human connection with multiple people over the course of one evening. It's pretty revolutionary, actually. Most people don't have those sorts of experiences to feed their soul.

Anonymous September 12, 2007 at 1:58 PM  


i was once stuck on a train that was so packed, that i could let go of the handle/bar/pole and just lean against everyone, and i wouldn't fall down. the people sitting down were scowling, afraid someone was going to fall into their laps as the train stopped at each station.

don't you miss the seats of the paris metro, that fold up to accommodate crowded commutes?


Anonymous September 13, 2007 at 11:20 AM  

colbay is right: a francophone is someone who is french speaking. Hence all Quebecois are francophones. One does not need to come from a french country to be a francophone.
A francophile is someone who likes France and those who are French.

since we're splitting cheveux here...

tangobaby September 13, 2007 at 5:02 PM  

Dear friends, thank you for the replies! It was so nice to see your reactions to my little musings.

Johanna: I agree with you...tango music should be played everywhere! It's all I seem to want to listen to these days. I crave it. And the more I read of your book, I understand what you mean about the rules...

Maria: thank you for discovering my blog. I've just now discovered yours in turn. The changes I see in myself in relation to others since I started tango is amazing to me. I'm so much more comfortable being around and talking to strangers and I know it's because of dancing tango. I agree with you that we are able to experience a mind-blowing way of communication and connection with people. That has to rub off on the world at large in some way, don't you think?

Colbay: The Lover is a favorite book of mine but my proficiency in French would not allow me to actually appreciate it in that language. I even had that book listed in my blogger profile; it is an incredible book. I have not read the others but should do so now that you've suggested them.

Tangospeak: I guess I am a rudimentary Francophone and a more educated Francophile. Thank you for clarifying that issue for all of us. I enjoy your blog very much!

Nuit: There is nothing about the Paris metro that I don't adore. I have a little purple carnet ticket taped to my vanity mirror, and I like to keep them in my pockets as little surprises. When I put my hands in my pockets and feel those little pieces of paper there, I pretend for a moment that I'm still in Paris. Sometimes they accidentally get into the wash so I'm running out of them...sigh. I also have a Mariage Freres teabag in one of the pockets of my coats. My pocket is full of little tea farthings.

Blake: You made my day! I don't find myself that amazing but the compliment really made me feel amazing. Merci.

hugs and kisses to all of you and thank you for reading!

Anonymous September 15, 2007 at 6:56 PM  

Ok, ok. Mon mauvais (?). I stand corrected on the -phone/-phile issue. Which I suppose makes me a semi-phone, and a wholehearted-phile.

Tangobaby - the lessons are only beginning. 'tis but one of those onion things with layers. The deeper you go the more it makes your eyes tear, but it's oh, so delicious.

Anonymous September 17, 2007 at 10:38 AM  


you wrote a book?? where, where? i want to read it, too.

tangobaby September 17, 2007 at 11:47 AM  

Darling Nuit,

Please be the first to join our Book Club! Details are posted on the blog.