Sunday, November 15, 2009

My First Milonga... A Tale of Woe

After years of daydreaming about it, I finally took up tango about a month ago. Classes have been going well so far and all us tango newbies have been progressing at a good pace. It may not be much of a tango, but I am so happy that I am finally starting to dance something that resembles tango.

Last night I finally went to the dance my dance school throws every two weeks. Here's the background. I've spent the best half of last week with a cold that turned to flu, lost my sense of smell and some hearing thanks to my blocked sinuses. On yesterday's gorgeous Saturday morning I was totally determined not to miss my first tango social dance and had every ambition of not falling any further apart. I knew just the thing to make me feel good - tango shoes! Sadly the shop was located in just the place to make me feel like a sloppy, sniffly, red nosed, frizzy haired peasant - Glyfada.

Glyfada is like the Los Angeles of Athens, where all the rich and beautiful people go to hang out and judge you. Amongst them I dragged myself from shop to shop like Quasimodo. Glyfada is the only part of Athens where I feel like a foreigner and I can't wait to leave fast enough. It's probably all in my head, but meh! They shoot unfashionable people, don't they?

So anyway, on to the shoes. The shop in question is conveniently owned by the father of our koubara (witness to our wedding) so I got a nice juicy discount. I was stuck between red and black. Black being the obvious choice for seeming like a grown-up tango lady. Red was, well... when you are feeling ill and running out of positivity, red is the colour to go for. So that was what I did.

Next stop, Hondos Center to see if they sell those sweet old fashioned stockings with a seam along the back. I asked the lady and she said "Yes we do. They're EUR7 but we have more expensive ones too." Glyfada is the only place in Athens where they'll tell you you can get the same thing for more money.

"Anything for less than that?"

"No you filthy poor person. Out, out with you! Security!" Okay she didn't really say that, and I decided that while faking it till you make it is always a good policy, I should not be drawing too much attention to myself with seamed stockings and red shoes when I only have one month's worth of tango under my belt.

I spent the rest of the day scraping myself back together again, de-monobrowing and fixing my hobbit feet. Being ill is when I realise how much daily fine-tuning it takes to keep the wilderness at bay. Three days out of action and the follicles think it's Christmas.

By nightfall I wasn't feeling all that much kefi and I was starting to loose my voice. You know when you just feel that it's not going to be a good night, and you go anyway? Mistake. But dammit, I braved Glyfada and I was going to my tango dance no matter what.

I walked into the dance school and my first impression was that I knew no one. My second impression was that the people who were there were a bit mean. I said hello to a couple and got a big fat zero in return. Others were really friendly and nice though and kept my company all evening, so I suppose it's luck of the draw.

Something about not being able to talk, smell or hear that well threw my dance skills into total disfunction. I accepted five dances and all five were disasters. Seriously, I've danced better with my dog standing on his hind legs. The mega boss of the dance school invited my for a tango and since lately I had been getting such good feedback from classes on how I was doing, it would have otherwise been an opportunity to shine.

But instead I was horrified that he should pick my stuffy, diseased self on that night when I knew the magic wasn't happening, and I danced like ASS you guys!! He, like all my other partners, was super gracious and said I had done really well. Yeah, you're telling me that when I'm watching people on the floor that can change lightbulbs with their toes.

And, I was the one and only person in the whole room with red shoes on. It's like they were screaming "Hey everybody! Look at us! Aren't we great? Shame our mummy can't dance for shit!"

I thought a milonga would be fun and easy, but I found my first milonga really stressful. I was trying to remember so much at the same time and the sad truth is that it was the worst time I've ever had dancing. Too much thinking, too much structure, I was dancing all from the head and nothing from the heart.

By midnight I'd well and truly lost my voice, the remaining scraps of my kefi and had had enough so I walked the short distance back to my little flat to be consoled by my dog and my beloved Mr Zeus who I told all about how miserably I'd done. But he being my knight in shining armour blamed my skanked up sinuses for my dancing and not me. Hooray!


Rositta said...

Firstly, I hope your flu gets better soon and it's not H1N1. Secondly, dancing is all a matter of practice and I'm certain it will improve with time.
Third, I share you feelings about Glyfada. When in Greece that is where we live and I absolutely HATE going into the center to shop for anything let alone shoes. As soon as they see my size 44 foot they run and hide. It's more like Rodeo Drive in LA I find, lost of well dressed youth driving their Daddies big SUV's, such is Greece, LOL...ciao

Sesi said...

Glyfada is a nightmare for me, to be honest. I've stopped shopping there for anything else than computer peripherals and books. All those beautiful shinny people in expensive clothing and expensive cars make me feel like I have accomplished nothing in my life, zero. And when some lady suddenly appears in her 1000 euro outfit and ten bags full of goodies, at working hours, infront of me, while shopping on my day off, then it strikes me: I DO have a job and a nice home in Gylfada, only I worked for all this with my own two hands. And maybe I cannot afford to shop in the superstores of Glyfada, but Marks and Spencer does just fine. At least I don't have to sell myself to someone rich to get it. And then it all goes away and I feel really good about myself.
Also, red is always the wrong choice when going into unfamiliar grounds. But you being you, you make an impression anyway, so who cares about shoe colours!!! Just don't forget: always be confident, no matter what. It confuses people, especially if you smile!!

bollybutton said...

Sesi, Mr Zeus calls the Glyfada trophy wives prostitutes with just one client. Kinda true.

As for the red shoes, they reminded me of a time long ago when I went to Pineapple dance studios in London, bursting with enthusiasm to try a tap dance lesson with my freshly ebay ordered tap shoes, in a pair of fire truck red jogging pants.

Within seconds I realised I was hopelessly crap, and that everyone else, but EVERYONE else was dressed head to toe in moody dance school black. Except for me. With my bright red trousers.

Anonymous said...

Hear what you're saying about Glyfada but that's nothing compared to Kifissia. In Kifissia versus Glyfada, which wins? Kifissia, because it is what passes in Greece for 'old money', whilst Glyfada is nouveau riche. Me, I prefer Kypseli to either of them...

Matt said...

How can you feel like a foreigner when nearly everybody who lives in Glyfada is a foreigner too? Aussies, Poms, Americans, Germans, Canadians etc all seem to choose Glyfada to base themselves. It's uncool to speak Greek in Glyfada!

But I hear ya. When I first lived in Greece I worked at a store on Metaxa so day in day out I dealt with these high-class prostitutes in Gucci boots and metrosexuals of the extreme kind while I was making 450 Euros a month and eating a packet of crisps for dinner.

The shops in Glyfada are shit anyway. Once I went shopping just for some t-shirts with something simple. Not too plain, not too bold (Ed Hardy style), just simple. It took me 3 fucking hours and eventually I settled for a Diesel t-shirt that cost me 70 Euros, and I only bought it because the store manager was Greek-Australian and we made a beautiful connection.

Save some more money and go to Istanbul for shopping instead. Metaxa ain't got shit on Istiklal!

Anonymous said...

You are right Anonymous... Kifissia does kick Glyfada's ass any day of the week! :-)

bollybutton said...

I vote for neither Kifissia nor Glyfada. Both make me feel poor and badly dressed and remind me how unfair the money-advantage is - why do these two places look like green paradises while the rest of us just get a twig and a patch of grass as our green space? Because we're POOR and it's not FAIR!!!!