Close readers of “T As In Tango”, few though you may be, will have noticed that the passing reference to Gumboot dancers finds expression in the picture that accompanies the story. Far be it for me to deconstruct what’s going on in this wonderful image, but here goes. Those with an analytical bent may have observed that three couples dance to music created by an accordionist, a drummer, and a Gumboot dancer, who elicits bass-notes from a swollen gourd. You can tell from the flecks of blue here and there, and from the celestial backdrop, that this song is in the minor key of Tango. Nuanced scents emanate from a small maté gourd hanging from the accordionist’s chair. A regal lady in a diadem waves a fan to diffuse more widely the erotic energy that suffuses this tableau. No-one smiles, for this after all is an arcane evocation of Tango, a cerebral escape from daily trial and tribulation. We may be saddened remembering long-lost loves, but the green maté gourd and a nearby glimpse of grass offer promise of recovery and regeneration. As does the ecstatic shut-eyed devotion of the accordionist and his drummer. Not to mention the ardent kiss sought by the lady next to the Gumboot dancer, her left hand coaxing closer embrace. Whether South African gumboot dancers were progenitors of Tango is subject to fevered debate, and I prefer to leave it there. For me, Tango enables deep dives, otherwise inaccessible, into the technicolor dynamics of love.
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