Karin Kaminker


Tango On The Terrace Of The Olympic Museum In Lausanne

Dancing on concrete, surrounded by reflecting pools, the Mt. Blanc in the distance, Lac Léman at our feet, the Olympic rings connoting excellence, inscribed on the wall at our back… There we were, foreigners many, amateurs all, drawn by the lure of soulful music and the dancers‘ embrace.

The men at the outdoor milonga seemed of the decent sort – well-groomed, partner-oriented and courteous – but it was the women who caught the eye:

Tanned and toned, in a mini sheath, the belle of the evening was a highlighted blonde, who gave the impression that she could navigate ocean waves with the same beach bunny chic that won her this evening’s contest as queen of the figure eight.

The fresh-skinned athletic wonder took to her toes in her upscale running shoes. The firey individualist went headlong through tango paces despite a wounded leg. The overweight mama in purple pumps blithely defied the laws of gravity.

Also present was the obligatory spike-heel gang, ranging from the doyenne – a rail-thin socialite – to the stunning recent graduate of the local lycée. And holding their own were the sixties-somethings: a determined enthusiast, wrinkled and wiry-legged but dancing circles around the younger girls, and a handsome grandmother dancing with calm assurance in the doting arms of “Pop”.

With me, American immigrant in the Lac Léman region, were Maria from America, a nature-loving woman, and uncomplexed Maria from Spain, plus Silvia from Argentina, who exuded a lovely blend of friendliness and dignity. A demure university professor from France took her seat next to us and chatted while waiting for her chance to dance.

On the eastern horizon, the sky turned suddenly troubled. Soon white high-charged streaks electrified the lake. Our mood turned troubled as the winds blew the storm in our direction. Overhead, white sheets stretched across the blanket of cloud and the first premonitory drops began to fall.

The majority of male dancers declared that they would stand firm in their desire to dance but the consort of goddesses – Hecate, Hera, Athena, Artemis, Demeter, Persephone – prevailed upon us to take cover from heaven’s wrath.

We fled, up further still, to under a fragile tent, arriving just before Zeus sent his terrifying bolts crashing down. The timorous shivered in their chairs, fearing the worst but not daring to leave, whereas the fearless resumed their dancing.

And, through it all, the Argentine tango, on this stormy night in mythic Switzerland, played on.


Blinded by the sun
I follow my new other half
down the narrow streets of Toledo
each step wiping out
bit by bit
the me that I was
a fortnight before

Twelve noon – honeymoon –
the September heat beats down
on my newly wedded head

Deleterious, this veil
of bright Spanish sun
that whites out my thoughts

A mantilla disguise…
I traipse on in it lost,
an ocean away from home
beside my new better half

hiding from view
the old solo self
that pulses behind the veil
waiting to re-emerge

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