Monday, May 29, 2006

Fred Astaire

Decoding the signs of your dance partner...

Herr Ingenier's son, Hadrianus, was visiting, having flown from Heathrow Terminal 2 to daunting Barajas Terminal 4, and Malinka and I found ourselves having lunch by the pool. A small gathering, with passport-holders of different frontcover colours.

Now, I have bored to death the right Honourable Reader sometime ago with the importance of the COBRA factor. (COBRA, as it might be recalled, stemmed from the “Crossing the Ball Room” metaphor, that is, the courage to risk rejection). But what about the skills and tactics needed once you have a partner accepting to dance with you?

That was very much the core of a self-indulgent chat by the pool, in another of these lunches hosted and turned into gentle sybaritic events by Herr Ingenier’s charismatic drive and Garbo’s ironical no-nonsense good-sense.

How did it all started, the discussion about dancing technique, I mean? I guess serious historians will have a different view point, but this blogger’s humble view is that it begun when the edge of Asturiala’s skirt flickered with the breeze. On that very moment, when the soupçon of well drawn knees turned into a certainty, that ferormone-full attractive co-guest decided to throw at us that she would rather be a boy. Like she was prepared to get rid of the obvious gifts she had received from Nature in the name of the supposed advantages a man has in a man’s world. With a faux-naïve smile she inquired of the presents if they had never felt the same or the other way around. That’s when I said that on the very first summers of adolescent dancing, boys eager to grope their dancing partners envied them for their monopoly in conceding favours. (We are talking slow, body-to-body dances, to the music of Cat Stevens or similar, certainly not of metallic stuff or hip-hoppish tribal dancing). In our fifteen-years old self, contact through our clothes between respective erogenous zones was the very aim of dancing. And who had the power to go along or refuse it? The girls, and only them. We could be more or less daring, but macho tango-like strong tactics didn’t get you anywhere in those days when young ladies performed the role of timid gazelles ready to jump away at the first threatening move. We could play cunningly, affecting indifference to non-musical matters and holding our partner very loosely in the beginning of the dance. And then working from there, slowly and by stealth, probing the limits of our partner’s acquiescence. But we would invariably get to a point where an elbow or a forearm elegantly but firmly deployed in a certain awkward position would make unfruitful any further progress. Girls who wanted sheer physical thrills, on the other hand, would have only to welcome in their arms the acne-spotted boys and enjoy as much flesh-to-flesh pressure as they could sustain without falling on the floor. How sometimes we wished we were girls to have that power to be sluts!

Around the swimming pool every male guest, with the brightness of nostalgia alighting their eyes, then recalled and demonstrated how girls in judo-like fashion seemed to go for it all, while in fact refusing everything.

I thought: the real achievement was to get more than just something while the girl thought she had not given away an inch. In fact, allowing her refusenik face to be saved while enjoying himself some modest victory.

Then someone remembered hardcore stuff. About a practical device apparently very popular in student’s house parties in Central Europe. One would slip a bottle of wine in one's trousers to give to the dancing partner the impression that she was really making a devastating impression... I am sorry.. I do apologize.. I might have gone too far this time.. But a blogger has a duty to report to the Right Honourable Reader what he has seen or heard without self-censorship or diluting embellishment. There was even a farce moment in the discussion just before we all realized that the bottle was supposed to be empty. Asturiala was sure that, once in dancing motion, the bottle would have fallen on the floor by its sheer weight, and no amount of tightly fastened belt under a buttoned up blazer could have prevented the (humiliating) catastrophe. Hadrianus had to explain in very general terms, with a certain amount of attention turned naturally to his lower parts, how his fellow students used to perform that particular trick..

Dancing, in those times, was indeed like being in the trenches of sexual warfare…

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