A good milonga can end badly. New friends can leave for vacations. Great food can make you sick. Balmy weather can dehydrate you. And travelling light can make rebuilding a hacked website beyond tedious.
The last four days every day a perfect stranger walked up to me to tell me that they remember Duro y Vio. Do I get to stop crying on this trip.
But I am now living in another high-ceilinged Berlin flat, this one with mirrors to keep me sane and a rabbit to keep me company.
Last night I met M for her one night in Berlin at clarchens where she didn’t sit a single tanda until her new shoes cut into her feet, and then she danced barefoot. I made some much-needed new friends, A2 and B2, an androgynous couple who each dance both roles (but very differently).
At Clärchens there’s tinsel on the walls!!!!! That was last night.
Tonight was my first milonga at Mala Junta. On the way there I was again meditating on the prospect that the world is running out of tango. What will I do?
It was almost a very short trip, but my habit of doggedness for no good reason won the day. Like most milongas it begins in a dark and muddy alley with no signs and a locked door. A meandering smoker showed me how to ring the buzzer that releases the door. I followed a DNI shoe bag into the elevator.
The elevator released us into a dauntingly crowded hallway. Peering into the dance room, I saw a sea of colourful cocktail dresses and flashing stiletto heels. “seems to be a night to lead” I said to the only person I recognized. “What is ‘night’?” she asked.
I was either going to dive in or skulk the hallway so I dove at an elegant woman who A1 likes to lead. She kindly agreed. We joined a molasses-sedate dance floor. I kept the faith. She did a few unled voleos.
After that I didn’t know what I’d do. Surely there was no way I was going to get asked to revel amidst this scene. But across the room I spotted my tribe, the dwindling post-queer fest group, including my new friends A2 and B2. Seeing them holding some space, asserting our right to be here, gave me the strength I needed to plow ahead. I approached someone else I knew for a kiss and ended up with a dance with one of her friends, who was pleasantly surprised. I pointed my toes, showing off the particular weird delicacy of my shoes.
And didn’t sit through another tanda for the rest of the night.
The guys were good enough to realise I could do anything, and they let loose, a little rusty in places, but the second tanda was always better than the first. They let go of me and went deeper into themselves.
Sometimes you almost flee and it turns out to be the night you’ve been waiting for.