Preview: Only Spot in Baltimore to Dance All Night (Aug. 7-Aug. 9)

Tired of not finding a place to dance until dawn cracks over Fed Hill? Grab a pair of leather-soled shoes and get fresh with Afro-Brazilian roots at an Argentine milonga. Between now and Monday morning at 3 AM, you can dance all-day and all-night in the ballroom of the grand historic Tremont Plaza Hotel at 22 St. Paul Place.

Tango Element Baltimore gives three nights of freedom to dance (in 2/4 time) for as long as you can last. Master your feet with blind instinct, hand on the flesh your partner bares over red denim pants. Unlike your usual club circuit follies, the name of this game is infinite trust. Dare we venture it? Intimacy. But don’t worry, the scene’s not without it’s eyebrow piercings and black-painted toenails, shaved headed sweethearts, cargo pants with high heels and plenty of tattoos (some peeping out from under a flash of skirt during a leg kick). This is a heaven of tight skirts and pantylines. No one is shy.

Excepting old friends, most of the conversations are conducted by shoe. A white leather shoe speaks volumes when it crosses a red heel. The red heel rebuffs then relents in a serpentine twist that’s untangled in a flash.

Eyes closed, breath bated, you’re ready to follow your partner’s lead. There’s the chiding tease of the instep, a coquetry unmatched by any bump and grind for subtly of seduction. A foot brush is a request. The lady can request right back. The beauty of tango is about delineating boundaries in order to break them. (Astor Piazzolla’s tangos break as many rules as the almighty Beethoven did.)

There’s the art of looking open and ready to dance even when sitting down, bidding an invitation to stroll onto the floor. When I asked waiting dancer: “Why tango?”

She responds in a heartbeat: “It’s the best cure for a break up.”

She then confides that it’s a “smart” dance. Smart did not only mean sharp footwork. She said she met more PhDs per capita dancing tango than through any other scene. This prowler trekked all the way from Montreal to seduce cheek-to-cheek.

Really all that’s missing is a live bandoneonist, someone who makes fast and bold as lightning on those buttons. Yes, one who plays that sweltering squelch of air and sex box we call the bandoneón. The rumor is one used to play church music on this Argentine cousin of the concertina. So what better sounds to soak into these hallowed old walls of Grand Lodge of Masonic templedom? I had it from the organizer of the event, Callie, that the developer of the new Tremont Grand building came into this space and didn’t have the heart to tear it down. Thanks to him, you’ve got a chance to twine legs in a Gothic church under heavy candle chandeliers, facing a painting of Christ Jesus and his many sainted compatriots on one end, before swinging by the DJ table on the other.

The guests, top-notch performers who show you how it is done didn’t even hit the dance floor until 2 a.m. Mariano “Chico” Frumboli take Mariano Montez into close embrace just as I was bound for the door. (Sigh. Some of us have work at 9 am the next morning).

Try out a milonga for $10-$15. Click here to see the full schedule. Drop in during the day for classes.

All you need: stamina, passion, and leather-soled shoes. (Strappy heels for the ladies).

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