An essayist’s debut memoir of how a passion for tango dancing transformed her life.
Flaherty took her first tango lessons when she was 16 and studying abroad in Argentina. Ten years later, she was living in New York, unhappily surveying the dismal prospects in both her love life and professional pursuits as an actress. Desperate “to do something, however bold or blind,” and longing for human touch, she plunged back into the world of tango. A traumatic childhood that included living with a substance-abusing, man-hungry mother marked the author at her deepest levels. The more she engaged with tango, the more she realized that at the core of her desire to master the dance was a wish to simply “close my eyes and trust.” Her first lessons felt like a liberating “insurrection.” But later encounters with “the maestro,” an older man who sought to school her in tango and a passion she did not want, tested her resolve. Flaherty persisted, and as she improved, she found other teachers who showed her that tango dancing was a dialogue of “betrayals and…broken loves” between two bodies as well as a pathway to a womanhood she had suppressed and ignored. She eventually found her way into the New York underground of tango venues, where she met Enzo, the lover who moved her into greater awareness of a body she had allowed to be led but had not allowed to lead. A fellow “tango nerd”–turned-friend named Marty helped the author evolve. With him, she learned to dance a tango that was a sensual expression of an autonomous woman unafraid to take risks in life and love. Well-researched, eloquent, and entertaining, Flaherty’s book is not only a witty, incisive reflection on a beloved dance and its history. It is also an intimate celebration of dance, life, and the art of taking chances.
A vibrantly intelligent reading pleasure.