Sunday, 11 April 2010

El Enganche

Young, slim, with fair hair and exquisite eyes, Celia glances across the table towards me, and along with the others in the room I smile and melt. Let's go, she orders, and like a file of children following their teacher, we follow her down the cool,marble staircase of El Sol de San Telmo and into the hot, bustling street. Celia is a dancer, a tanguera, but not like the others. She performs, dancing with her life partner Fabrizio, our tango mentor, our inspiration for form in tango and warmth in life.

Today we are off to El Enganche, Celia's studio here off San Juan. This is both her work place and her escape from the guests of El Sol de San Telmo tango house, the place I have made my home for this visit. Currently, she and Fabizio occupy the bower on the roof, a roof house overlooking the terrace. But privacy, as you would expect in a tango house, is a rare commodity, so the studio is where Celi comes to work.

Having been greeted by the doorman, we ascend in the lift and decant into the wide corridor of this modern block. Celi opens the door and we enter. This is a space full of light, colour and style. The former is from the windows that stretch the full length of the room, the latter from two racks of dresses, skirts and pants for tango. Being the only male present, I fail to respond with the speed and determination demonstrated by my female friends who immediately swoop on Celi's designs. For my male readers, I will use the analogy of a queue at the match turnstile, but for my women readers I need no such device. They will be feeling through me the joy of the racks of delights; special tango clothes that turn the wearer into the sexiest and most desired tanguera. I hear intakes of breath and watch as my female friends compete for mirror time, passing compliments between themselves and exchanging dresses which they hold against each other to stand forwards and sideways to examine the effect. I arrived with a small group of travellers. I am now surrounded by beautiful women whose hearts are singing, bodies are softened and whose ecstacy is evident.

Celi's web page fails to tell you what you need to feel about her clothes, all hand-made by her within this space. Each item is designed to show, reveal, conceal and delight. The viewer thrills and the wearer simmers. Celi lifts her leg, and the fabric falls, catching my breath, revealing leg and form, yet just to that point of exquisite delight and not beyond. She is clever beyond her youth, but her youth is expressed in what she designs. She knows tangueras and how they have to feel. She is a performer and understands what props this requires. She is a mistress of degree; to the point where our hearts lift and imagination soars.

Carlos revealed to me that he had concerns about his credit card and asked me to keep a restraining eye on his partner. Sorry Carlos, I had not appreciated the task. We are about to leave, and the racks have been decimated. Excited friends clutch bags containing their prizes which will be worn at milongas tonight, re-creating the electricity of their acquisition.

Celi smiles at me. She and I rush ahead as she is late for her practice with Fabrizio in the studio at El Sol de San Telmo. I now understand more about tango, and shopping.And I look forward to the next episode which will be tonight when I dance with her stars.