I had resigned myself to abstinence from Tango for the duration of the pandemic when, sifting late one night through online Tango, I came across a YouTube video of Charlotte Baines and Laurent Trincal dancing to Osvaldo Pugliese’s ‘La Yumba’. What caught my eye was not the regal setting, nor the elegant couple, nor the precisely choreographed ascent of the marble staircase, nor even the sublime Pugliese song. What flipped my switch was Charlotte’s skirt, which swirled in apparent abandon but in perfect time with the music. White flowers on a black background flowed musically back and forth, mostly shrouding but every now and again offering momentary glimpses of Charlotte’s well-turned flying calves.
Not as a rule impervious to Tango’s erotic charms, and eager to share and assuage the demands of my flipped switch, I sent the video to my friend Amira, whose fabled candlelit rooftop milongas bask in long views over Low Country sea-marsh sunsets. I mentioned that we may have forgotten Tango in our Covid abstinence, but here was a reminder, and I added that I particularly admired Charlotte’s swirling skirt. By return email, Amira said she’d be sure to wear a swirling skirt next time we danced, and recommended that I take zinc to ward off Corona’s evil eye, zinc having been shown to do just that in recent peer-reviewed studies.
She also attached a video of herself dancing on her rooftop with a guy in black she said was the Ukrainian National Salsa Champion. Quite apart from reflexive stabs of jealousy, I couldn’t help noticing that Amira’s pirouettes were accentuated with spectacular swirls of her dress, which just happened to be adorned with black flowers on a white background. Whatever yearnings for connection had been aroused by the ‘La Yumba‘ video were only augmented by the sight of Amira dancing with abandon. At the same time, I viewed with skepticism the dueling messages of white and black, the prophylactic properties of zinc, and digital Tango as a palliative in lock-down. One day, not too long from now, hard to imagine I know, I’ll stroll again into a milonga, seek out accepting eyes, and set those skirts a-swirl.