Tango and the Art of Motorcycle Riding
by Michele “Mickey” Reutty
On Thursday nights in the village of Maywood,
NJ a really nice group of people come together to dance the Tango. Beginners
and pros, young and old, they all come to Firehouse Tango. Why call this
gathering of tangueros and tangueras- this milonga -“Firehouse
Do they set the house a-fire with their precision moves? Well, that may
well be, but the more truthful answer is they started out meeting in
a Firehouse and their membership grew and grew until they had to rent
a space at the Knights of Columbus in Maywood, in Bergen County. Actually,
I think they are getting so popular, they will have to move to a bigger
You come to the meeting wearing leather-soled shoes—this makes
it much easier for you to glide across the floor, or, in my case, trip
over your partner’s feet as you try an intricate move. But once
you are there, you see that you are underdressed for the occasion. This
is a time for women to show off their dresses and therefore, their bodies
as they sway with the music—some of the dresses sway as they walk
through their paces…and some of them cling. And the men are not
to be out done—they are just as smart and colorful with their guayaberas
(colored, embroidered shirts worn not tucked in) or cashmere turtlenecks
or Hawaiian shirts.
You come in and some hunk takes your name and your info. If you are
there to dance and eat, you pay $15. If you are only there to take lessons-$10.
You walk through the bar to large wood-floored room where the music is
already playing. At 7 sharp, Fran and his lady, Pat, the dance instructors,
will be patiently standing there. Usually the music is played by D.J.
Joe, Sue’s husband, and there are as many styles of tango music
as there are step combinations. Some are orchestral, some feature accordion
and violin--all have a background of smoldering sexiness…and yet
a tinge of sadness to them...I don’t quite know why. Think
of Al Pacino dancing with Gabrielle Anwar in “Scent of a Woman” to
the tune “Por Una Cabezza.”
Riding the mountains is like dancing the tango in that you must listen
with your body. You adjust your speed, your lean, your breaking according
to what the mountain is asking of you. You listen with your body and
you respond to the conditions set by the mountain.
You must gauge your speed, slow down or speed up at the proper time, know when to lean and, according to the road’s camber and your speed, adjust your angle, AND if your bike doesn’t pop up coming out of the curve, you must be able to pull it up and out---and do this all in a matter of split seconds.
In other words, you listen with your body and respond as the moment
And if you’re really good, you can dance with the mountains.
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