Saturday, January 21, 2006

Last Tango in Grenoble

After the farewell dinner, a group of students (Bobby, Brooke, Justin, Megan, Michelle, Min and Nicole) and I went tango dancing. They just wanted to see what tango was. I was happy that they were interested. It was raining and the girls wore high heels, so we decided to take the tram for just one station ahead. Julian looked puzzled. He might be wondering why we did not just walk since the distance was so short.

When we entered the room, the people were kind of stunned by such a big crowd of strangers. One of the ladies signaled us to find seats and sit down. The girls seemed excited when they saw people dance on the floor. They wanted to learn how to do it and asked me to teach them. I declined because I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the floor. I told then I would start to teach tango in Salisbury soon and they said enthusiastically that they would sign up. In addition to tango, they also wanted to do salsa. So tango and salsa would be a dynamic duo.

The students wanted to see me in action. They asked me to find a partner and dance. I saw a lady nearby who I danced with a week ago and thought was a good dancer. I went up to her and asked her to dance. While we were dancing, the students took some pictures of me. In the middle of the second song, I saw a French guy walked up to the girls asking for a dance. From distance I could see the girls horrified. They gestured in frenzy to tell him they did not dance at all. This lasted for a while. At the end, I guessed the guy was rather persuasive that Nicole stood up and started to dance with him.

When I finished dancing with the lady, I walked up to the group and wanted to know how they felt. Nicole proudly told me that she danced her first tango. The rest also seemed really interested in the dancing. We were discussing setting up a tango club at the school when we return. While we were chatting, a lady walked up to me and said something in French. I didn’t know exactly what she said but kind of knew what she meant. I said “oui” and we were on the dancing floor. During the third song with her, I saw our group stood up and were ready to leave. I stopped the dancing while trying to tell my partner that I wanted to say goodbye to my friends. She must have misunderstood me. She kissed Michelle and said something in French to her. It was obvious that she thought Michelle and I were partners and I wanted to dance with her. A good example of language barriers.

While we were saying goodbyes, a guy approached me and asked me if I was Jim. Then he said he was Miguel, the person who sent me the email a week ago informing me of the tango in Grenoble. While we chatted the gang walked out the room. All the sudden I remembered that Jacqueline was supposed to be here. I asked Miguel if she was here and he pointed her out from the crowd. Jacqueline was my initial contact for tango before I left for France. She was a friend of friend of Deirdre a.k.a. Justine. So there was a 4 degree separation between us. She was very helpful in providing information and making sure that Miguel contacted me. She lived in Valence (100km from Grenoble) but drove up here tonight just to meet me.

The rest of night belonged to us. We danced really well together. It was kind of strange that we had never met before but could instantly click. Tango did its magic again. We just danced and chatted. Her English was better than my French. She told me that her son lived in New Zealand and married to a Chinese woman who did not speak French. So she had to learn English to be able to communicate with her daughter-in-law. At one point when we stopped for a rest, an older couple I met a week ago greeted me. The gentleman complimented me by saying that I was a good dancer and he enjoyed watching me dance. A compliment from a stranger really meant something to me. This encouraged me to keep on dancing.

Jacqueline and I continued our dancing. We never parted from each other for the rest of the evening. At one point when I asked her if she would like to dance with someone else she responded that she preferred to dance with me. I had no objections to that. We continued. Before long it was past the midnight. I tried to tell her that the last tram would come soon but she did not understand. I thought it was 12:34 for the last tram and I said to myself I could dance till 12:30 and still was able to catch it. It was hard to stop but fortunately the music was stopped. I rushed out of the room after saying goodbye to Jacqueline. It was still raining outside. Only when I got to the station did I find out that the last tram left at 12:18. So I was singing in the rain while walking back to the hotel.


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