Memoir explains how one woman used tango to transform her life
As anyone that has ever experienced the pain of heartbreak as the result of a shattered relationship knows, it can take months or even years to put the pieces of your life back together again. Memories as sharp and pointed as shards of glass litter the landscape of your life, cutting deep into your emotions. If you are not careful, such shards can slice into your psyche and cause permanent damage. But how does one begin the process of picking up the jagged pieces without cutting oneself on the excruciatingly serrated edges? For Maria Finn, a writer from New York City, the answer was tango.
Finn’s new memoir, “Hold Me Tight & Tango Me Home” perfectly captures the emotional devastation she experienced upon discovering her husband’s infidelity. But despite her painful divorce, Finn shows why the experience of learning how to dance the tango was able to piece her heart slowly back together again like an elaborate jigsaw puzzle. By learning about the art, history and passion encapsulated in this Argentine dance, Finn found herself stronger, more confident and able to make it through a terribly agonizing time in her life. This poignant memoir alternates between stories about the aftermath of Finn’s incontrovertible realization that her marriage was over, her experiences while learning to tango, and the history of the intrepid dance itself.
Finn finds a motley crew of kindred spirits amongst the fellow dancers that she meets at tango classes in New York City. It seems everyone she encounters at the practices and at milongas (tango dance parties) has a past to hide, and everyone—including Finn— does so by using the language of tango to mask their true emotions.
Tango is a sultry, steamy dance that is said to have originated on the docks and in the brothels of working class Argentina in the late 19th century. Although certain aspects of the dance are said to have been introduced by immigrants from Europe and even Africa, it eventually emerged as a product of Argentine culture and remains a prominent symbol of the second largest country in South America to this day.
This beautifully exotic dance involves two partners locked together and moving in a close embrace, virtually two hearts beating as one. Although tango has ridden the ebb and flow of popularity around the globe throughout the years (the high point being 1913 where, according to Finn, it was all the rage in Paris and New York City to have tango tea parties), Buenos Aires remains the world’s true tango capital. It is in this city, known as “The Paris of South America,” where the book culminates. Finn not only immerses herself in the local tango culture (including shopping for dazzling shoes at the famed tango shoe boutique Comme Il Faut—and let me tell you, once you’ve been there, shoe shopping will never be the same again), but meets a handsome man in the most unlikely (or shall we say likely) of places.
Intricate descriptions of the tango combined with the graceful prose and intriguing story of Finn’s life experience coalesce to make “Hold Me Tight & Tango Me Home” a compelling tome. Readers will cringe right along with Finn as she dances with lecherous old men and ear licking creeps, and will be equally joyful when she finally learns that although it does take two to tango, she doesn’t need another person’s validation in order to realize her true self worth.
Maria Finn will talk about her book, “Hold Me Tight & Tango Me,” at 7 p.m. Friday, March 26 at the Capitola Book Café, 1475 41st Ave., Capitola. Local tango dancers will be on hand to demonstrate the dance, and Malbec by Familia Zuccardi winery in Mendoza Argentina will be served to enhance the Argentine tango ambiance. For more information, call Capitola Book Café at 462-4415 or visit capitolabookcafe.com.