Can I have this dance?

Humour columnist Mike Fisher learns to tango


 

I’m dancing as fast as I can. I leap into the air, spin in place with my arms tucked in.

“No,” says Liz Mary Lopez Loria, my curvy tango instructor.

I Riverdance, slap my knees with my hands, drop into a squat for some Cossack kicks, then do a Patrick Swayze Dirty Dancing move.

“No.”

I run up the wall and do a backflip, move sideways like Fred Astaire, grab onto a pole and follow it with a Magic Mike grind.

“This is not tango,” she says. Her diaphanous white gown undulates in the soft onshore breeze, in sync with my hips, as I dance around her, in time to music only I can hear, my arms writhing like snakes. “It is a new way of dancing not yet discovered. It is perfect. You are a dancing god.”

“It is true,” I say, meeting her smouldering eyes. “I do not dance the tango.” I strike a pose as if I’m possessed by the spirit of Antonio Banderas. “I dance to live!”

My reverie evaporates in the hot Mexican afternoon as I back Liz into a knee-high table at the dance floor’s edge and inadvertently stomp on her toes. Flames leap in her irises, suggesting deep pain. In my dreams, yes, I dance to live, but here at the Paradisus Playa del Carmen, an hour’s drive south of Cancun, I suspect my tango instructor wants to kill me.

The other students, who as resort guests take these and other “life-enrichment” classes, would not blame her. On the dance floor, I am a one-man wrecking crew, scattering others as if they were bowling pins.

But the three other men who have been dragged here by their women understand my plight. The one-hour lessons are at the resort’s Gabi Club, near the white-sand beach and turquoise waters. As the hotel’s name suggests, the location is heavenly. For us men, it has become a landscape of fear.

We all stop for a break as Liz and her instructing partner, Mario Oswaldo Delgadillo Diaz, show us how it’s done. They do a series of seemingly simple steps. We men are confused. We tilt our heads as dogs do when struck by something odd. Come to think of it, this is kind of like trying to teach dogs to dance. Or cook. Or take out the garbage.

Don’t expect great results.

“Now, I want you men to lead your partners,” says Liz. “The man leads!”

A husband with blonde hair, a blue T-shirt and white shorts, whispers about his wife: “She doesn’t really do well with that.” Us guys start to laugh, but his wife, dressed in black, shoots him a look and we all shut up and stare at the floor.

“Get your balance,” says Liz, showing how she moves her weight fluidly from one foot to the other. The guys stand in place, shifting from the left foot to the right, like little boys needing to go to the bathroom. “Women love to tango and the men don’t know what they are missing,” says Liz.

Well, they know now.

Next, Liz and Mario show us a move where Mario slides his right foot into the instep of her right foot, and then she swiftly raises her left knee until it comes to a stop. They do it several times and, to me, it looks like she’s kneeing him in the groin, again and again.

When we all change partners, it seems every one of the women want to practise the move on me.

A few partners later, I’m back with Liz. Despite concentrating on where her feet are in relation to mine, I’m stomping on her toes again. As I stare downward, she’s saying something to me, but when I lift my gaze to hear better, I see the flames rising in her eyes. Her look is murderous.

I dance to live!

 

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