Ari's Reviews > Hold Me Tight and Tango Me Home

Hold Me Tight and Tango Me Home by Maria Finn
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's review
Dec 27, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2011
I own a copy

On my first visit to the legendary bookstore The Strand in NYC I was browsing the discount tables and came across this title. I despertely want to learn all types of ballroom dancing and tango dancing especially has always fascinated me. so naturally I had to have this book.

It took me awhile to figure out that the author wasn't Latina, only formerly married to a Latino! (he was Cuban-American I believe). She knows so much about our mannerisms, our style, etc. and is so respectful and in love with the heritage. I was most impressed. My only complaint would be that this is very much a solo-act, and the author even remains aloof. There is little emotional connection to the secondary characters and not much emotion goes towards the author either. Yes you feel sad that she got a divorce but that's about it. And occasionally I laughed at how she handled life post-divorce but it was also disconcerting because as crazy as she sometimes acted, it struck me that someone actually did those things. People actually react in such ways when they are in such pain. Ay ay ay it's enough to make you want to not fall in love. But the book is not depressing or anti-love! I also thought that the author would abruptly explain technical tango terms and moves which jarred me from the flow of the story but the "life is a tango" comparisons drew me back in to the mesmerizing storyline.

This book to me reads like a wonderfully slow and dramatic story and also a fantastically put together everything-you-need-to-know-about-tango (especially tango dancing in NYC) book. I only wish I lived in NYC so I could visit all the places mentioned. I was also enamored with how easily the author managed to connect tango steps to her life, drawing comparisons seemingly without much effort. I had suspected she would have to stretch a bit but they all seemed to fit quite smoothly (granted I'm not a tango dancer so I may be wrong). "Tango is a way to learn through the body, to take one's pain into muslce memory and translate it into something else, something nobler. The contradictions-that comfort could be found among strangers, intimacy felt within a crowed, songs about heartbreak help a person find a way out of it-are embedded in the tango, and it begins and ends with the embrace." (pg. 13), the author clearly illustrates both overtly and subtly how tango helped her reach an optimistic outlook on being a divorcee.

I intend on joining ballroom dancing in college and fully taking advantage of Chicago SummerDance lessons (they are free)! And I would love to study abroad in Buenos Aires. The author touches on the healtyy economy of Argentina at this time, especially for Americans, and according to the CNN show GPS prices are still good (although it also predicted inflation would increase). I want to see milongas in Buenos Aires for myself where "men do not approach women to ask them to dance, rather, they sit across the room from them and make eye contact. If the woman does not avert her eyes, the man nods slightly, almost imperceptibly. If the woman nods back, then he approaches her table, or both stand and meet on the dance floor. The head motion, the subtle agreement, is known as cabeceo, from the Spanish word for 'head', cabeza. The verb cabecer means to moveo ne's head, as if to nod; its noun form, cabeceo, is a tango invitation. The men are known as cabeceros. The cabeceo saves men from being rejected publicly, and it allows women to refuse gracefully." (pg. 145), this is a custom I think Americans should adopt. Think of all the awkward moments it could dissipate (or as the author acknowledges-create-when one does not know if the person is really staring at them haha).

I cannot wait to learn to tango, tango at a milonga in the U.S. and Buenos Aires and try some good steak :)
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