Dateline: 21 October 2016
I dried the champagne from the left foot first; sheathed in a silky fishnet stocking it took far too few moments to complete.
A champagne glass, not mine, had been accidentally knocked and tilted; the liquid spilling across the table cloth and down onto to my conversation partner’s foot.
I dried the glossy high-heeled shoe. The foot again, placed and sliding safely in the shoe.
Champagne refreshed, conversation renewed in English with a light and delicious French accent.
You may wish to ask what a Tango Club, even if it is positioned near the banks of a small but exquisite river city in the far west of Brittany, has to with Adventure Motorcycling.
CHE GUEVARA DANCED THE TANGO.
Neither he nor I actively sought adventure of the motorcycling kind. Some of you may even remember the film Last Tango In Paris starring Marlon Brando. I haven’t seen it personally but I understand butter sales increased dramatically on it’s release. Meantime, here at the Tango Club of Chateaulaine, my knowledge of French culture was certainly extended further.
Two days earlier, eight hundred kilometres to the east near the city of Verdun, I had been rescued from heart stopping moto repair expenses by M. Bruno Boivin; the following morning, an early start with a day in the sunshine and journey’s end in Brittany and convenient parking next to a Yamaha DTMX 125 motorcycle that has been ridden to the end’s of earth.
Of this latter I am allowed to say nothing except it’s owner, on her own on her own world ride, packed as essentials a ball gown and a fine pair of high heeled dancing shoes. Some people take tyre irons, others, myself included, are more relaxed.
At the Tango club my feet are tapping; I would join these elegant couples but for two important things. First, my fine brown brogue boots sport rubber commando soles to stop any slippage and second, whereas I can dance, vaguely, the Bossa Nova, my memory tells me I have never tangoed in my life.
There are sixty people gathered; the age range is twenty-three to eighty, the majority at forty plus. With few exceptions both men and women are slim, tanned and muscle toned from dancing. Women wear drama – red or black or midnight blue silk dresses slashed high to the thigh; their men stand tall in black and white. Both genders display formidable hauteur.
The music of Tango has great passion. The dancers engage with elegance and reflect the music back to the audience. There are eight basic steps; each couple have controlled similarity but are not identical. I watched the delicious passion of the Enganche - a woman slides her thigh between her partner’s legs – and other movements such as Caricias, Lustrada and Piernazo which almost describe themselves.
The music, the dancers; this is seemingly real desire on public view.
Huddled in a corner I googled Tango classes in my home town. I’ll have to stop smoking before I join.
I’m really not sure what my wife will think – but next year, my current plan is that Moto Gelato will drift me eastward across the Continent dancing the Tango as I go.
The full story comprises
Dinner for One,
Of Ignominy and Shame,
The Italian job,
A Tale of Two Engines,
The Discreet Charm of Bruno Boivin and
The Tango Club of Chatelaine.
Notes from the Road Vol IV is available here