For him the monthly Sunday dance had become a palliative during the unsettling days, weeks and months that followed the realization that years of smoking and Big Macs had occluded the femoral arteries in both legs, and had clogged the coronaries that feed the heart with slimy plaque, the kind that eventually stops the heart from getting blood.
He sat more tandas than he danced, and he mostly danced with his accommodating, faithful and unselfish life partner. People had begun to talk about him in the past time, saying kind things, greeting him with special affection, and reminding the newcomers about his past achievements and accomplishments.
That’s why it came as a surprise when he came in walking with that unmistakable porteño gait, smiling and greeting everyone before taking a seat at the table always reserved for him and his lovely partner. Not sooner than the milonga tanda ended and the jazzy cortina helped clear the floor, the trademark sound of the Carlos Di Sarli orchestra filled the cavernous salon with the sounds of El ingeniero.
There he was, holding her hand and heading for the floor. He stood up straight, embraced her and took a deliberate step to his left bringing her with him in his embrace. Holding her on axis, he closed with his right leg, switched axis while feeling her pristine and tasteful decoration down below. He then took two forward steps clearly marking the crossing of her feet, left over right. Two more steps, an arrepentida and she was interrupting her turn to his right with a quick rock step. As she changed her direction putting her weight on her right leg, she crossed her left foot and they glided to a resolution to end the phrase. Once again they went through the smooth salida but now he locked his left foot behind his right on the third step sending her on a quick diagonal to his left.
As she stepped forward initiating a turn to his left, he quickly brought his right leg behind his left and then opened with his left to his marking a change of her direction to his right. On the ensuing forward ocho, he stepped forward with his right displacing her and initiating an enrosque. As she went around him, he did two weight changes by locking one foot behind the other one, and stepped with his right on her forward step displacing her again and finishing the right turn with the classic 6-7-8 medio giro.
The second song of the tanda started and once again the elegant salida got them going around the floor again. This time when reaching the cruzada position he crossed his legs, left foot behind right and positioned himself on her left side. He then brought her around him to his left in what looked like a circular salida. As she opened with her right leg he advanced with his right to displace her, and as they turned to his left, he exited the turn in cross feet receiving her outside cross, or back step. This was definitely an unexpected turn of events. The friends of old times may have had flashes of the times when seeing them dance the night away was as expected as rice and beans on Mondays.
As the forth song of the tanda ended, someone exclaimed, “Pretty amazing to see them dance this way and then to hear that he had his heart worked on just 5 days ago! His doctor would die if he new what he was doing way too soon! But, the tango dancer only lives because of his tango.” That may have explained why after they finished the tanda he lowered his head and kissing her very softly, he wept through the long cortina.