A sweet fainting

Share it like your embrace

A story by Ramiro Villapadierna

All too softly, the unknown tanguera seemed starting to somehow stretch each measure of the music, in a subtle but intense way, every step whimsically taking advantage of that distance that goes from her high-heel to her toe. The tango was entering a sweet languid slumber, increasingly dense and emotional. I let her do, and followed her, entering the slow trance. Sort of felt as if she was dragging the heavy bandoneón with her own feet.

The beats lengthened apparently on their own as her waist swayed accordingly and each measure seemed to deconstruct itself, down to its essence, until there was almost only one tempo for us and we barely moved anything other than -lightly- our middle and, perhaps, ever more lightly the ankles brushed together, here and there, where the marks of the beats should have been — but they weren’t anymore.

From each rich instrumental substrate of “Café Domínguez”, the most languid seemed to be automatically chosen to improve a powerful cadenza; here the sweet violin entrance, there the groan of the bandoneón ripping painfully through the stomach, there the touching phrasing by Julián Centeya, that unique beautiful word carefully selected, slowly spelt for your ear, as the embrace was getting magnetically, impossibly close:

“… por allí caían a escuchar tus tangos /

era el iman que atraía /

como el alcohol atrae a los borrachos /

Café Dominguez de la vieja calle Corrientes /

que ya no queda… “

Our torsos were glued together as by an unknown sucking force.

Her heart-beat resounded increasingly on my own chest. For an instant, I imagined that her heart was talking up something. To mine.

We went on dancing, though actually standing now almost still in an embrace, me barely noticing at times just a funny trembling of her knees, in a subtle reflex vibration, like a shy animal responding to an unexpected touch.

The rest of the ronda was probably passing by, gently avoiding us, or had just totally disappeared from this world.

Her breathing got deeper and heavier, intensely reverberating through my body, her collarbone all too softly swaying against my collarbone, as if a diligent line of ants walked the distance between my shoulders, back and forth.

Her arm about my shoulder had worked its way up and her hand was warmly laying on my neck. I breathed, she sweated. She breathed on my neck, I sweated from every pore of my skin.

Our pores seemed to have opened up and acted like they sucked the air around us. I didn’t dare to move.

Was she softly drowsing off?

Everything, within and without, seemed to have grown to a halt. Still, about the final blow of the tango, her knees gave out completely and, in milliseconds, I felt her collapsing from my neck.

I didn’t know her at all nor had I ever seen her before.

As her consciousness and her strength waned, she fell slowly down, barely uttering some words.

“This is too much”, I believe I heard her whispering. As I was helped by others to lay her on a nearby bank, she sighed the words “too much”.

This I remember.

The milongas were then shyly beginning to reopen in Madrid, as a first in Europe as pandemia was slowly waning.

Downtown in the city, in the darkened hall I’d see the tangueros moving tentatively “a media luz”, between the emotions of the reunion and a certain new, avid, social insecurity.

I almost didn’t know anyone there, having just returned to the capital after many years abroad.

But in that first post-pandemic milonga, a young tanguera lived through that beautiful rendition of “Café Domínguez” by D’Agostino, with such an intensity and devotion, in her soul and in her heart, that she fainted in my arms.

And that was beautiful.

I don’t know her name.


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