Ekaterina Khomenko was murdered in St Petersburg on 7 September. It is strongly believed that the murder is connected to her work as a Queer Tango teacher. (News articles: Global Voices and Queer Russia.)
We danced this past July at the Berlin Queer Tango Festival 2014 and I want to thank Ekaterina more formally for what I noted in my blog as one of the most profound experiences of my tango life.
It was Thursday night, the festival’s opening Milonga, at TangoLoft. I was dressed to mark. I felt her intent gaze on me. Dark and sparkling, quiet and fierce. I felt absolutely compelled to dance with her, from quite a distance, and that itself was a first.
In Europe there is a distinction made between the cabeceo (the mark’s contract) and the mirada (the revel’s invitation). Ekaterina’s mirada said more than “let’s dance”. It said what a powerful mirada says, “I want YOU”.
And that changed everything. The girls who revel with me know that I’m a demanding mark. If they want to dance with me, they better be ready to move. I’ve written that there’s just no motivation for me to be tender and charming with a girl who would really rather be dancing with a man.
Dancing with Ekaterina I got to experience that tenderness for the first time. I wanted her to feel good. I wanted her to get from this dance what she so keenly wanted. I was more concerned with her experience as a revel than with my own expressiveness.
But that wasn’t the whole story, because I hadn’t yet discovered that all the girls on team Russia Queer Tango present as femmes (perhaps it’s not safe to be butch), mark as well or better than they revel, and cabeceo with the mirada.
After putting up with me for two songs she raised her left hand and took over. Apparently that was what she really wanted and her assertive lead was as clear and intent as that mirada.
Thank you Ekaterina. I will feel your eyes forevermore.