MY HUSBAND AND I were definitely not born dancers, but we had decided to learn the tango. Inspired by the 1997 movie "The Tango Lesson," we felt that maybe we, too, could dance this elegant dance.
Because we're on the shy side, we started our lessons at home using a video from the library. We figured that when we felt confident enough, we'd consider advancing to public lessons at the elegant, extravagantly named Jack-o'-Lantern Ballroom.
The first step, the Basic, is simple: three steps back (for the lady), then step together. Our first obstacle proved to be our dog, who persisted in flopping down right in the middle of our tiny living room. When we finally got him to resettle between the coffee table and the couch, we moved on to the Promenade and the Open Fan steps.
We soon discovered that the tango moves in a linear way, causing us constantly to dance ourselves into a corner. Maybe learning some new steps would provide a solution, we thought, so we checked out a second video from the library.
First we were shown the Reverse Turn.
"Quick, quick, slow. Quick, quick, slow," the instructor chirped. "Notice how the lady steps outside her partner."
I twisted my head backward to see the dancer on the video, who, of course, had long since finished stepping outside her partner.
"Very nice," the instructor said.
Well, obviously she didn't see my husband and me, our feet entangled and our bodies contorted in a very untango-like posture.
Somehow, after rewinding the tape numerous times, my husband was able to pick up the essentials of the Reverse Turn and teach them to me. Had it been up to me, I would have suggested calling it quits.
Dancing to the music of Astor Piazzolla, master tango composer, we were soon gliding around the room and melding together four steps of the tango. Our dancing wasn't bad. Perhaps we were ready to dance in public.
We had only one problem: what shoes to wear. Finding footwear that would allow our feet to slide had been difficult. Sneakers stick to the floor, and clogs set your posture off balance. I had resorted to dancing in my socks, but my husband thought he had found the perfect dancing shoes - his moose slippers. These monster-size slippers have cloth soles with tops that are large moose heads, complete with eyes, ears, and antlers. In these slippers, he was able to glide smoothly from step to step. If I missed a step and landed on his foot, he didn't feel a thing. If he stepped on my foot, it felt only like a gentle nudge.
As nicely as these slippers performed, I'm not sure they provided the refined look that the tango requires. Maybe my husband could get away with wearing them in New Hampshire or Minnesota, but not at the Jack-o'-Lantern Ballroom.