Thursday, 11 November 2010

Just call me Carmen Miranda

In an attempt to remedy my samba spacticity in time for carnival next year, when I hope to parade semi-naked in full-on, sequined, Carmen Miranda garb at the Sambodromo, I signed up for some beginners' samba classes.  My formal initiation at Jimmy Oliveira's studio was on Monday night.

I've hardly been in a heel higher than a Havaiana's since I moved to Brazil five years ago, so the first surprise of the evening, before I had even left home, was that I managed to find a pair of red heels at the back of my wardrobe that hadn't succumbed to the Brazilian mofo monster.  Perfect!

Legs and Lotharios.  Beginners' Samba Class in Catete.

The second surprise, when I arrived at the studio, is that Samba, or at least the type taught in studios, turns out to be couples' dance.  I was a bit taken aback when I realised I was going to be pressing myself up against an unknown gentleman's body.  I'm not averse to that by the way, it's just that, well, if this class had been in Leblon maybe my classmates would have been models or actors, but this is Catete - Halloween costumes are not necessary around here.  Plus, it was about forty degrees in the room...drip, drip, drip.

After we had practiced the footwork individually, I was partnered with one of the assistant teachers, a nice young guy whose name I've forgotten.  I held his hand a little too desperately and whispered to him "It's my first time".  He replied "don't worry, trust me" and duly popped my ballroom dancing cherry. We proceeded to have a few lovers' tiffs of the "Stop trying to lead. Me man. Me in charge" variety, but once I relaxed and stopped thinking too much about my feet, it all fell more or less into place.

It's incredibly easy actually, at least for the woman.  The technique is keep your legs straight, your bottom sticking out (I should've been wearing my bum pants) and to channel your inner puppet on a string.  The guy really is in charge: With his hand on your back he controls the direction of your body and with his leg between yours he controls your legs.  For someone whose husband is the other side of the earth, it's not a bad substitute.  My dance partner, with a couple of crushed toes, might not have felt the same.

Looking for people to join me in the samba parade by the way...any takers?


  1. Oh man, this literally made me LOL on the "it's my first time" part. Good one Tash!

  2. How are you able to join the parade? I'm interested, definitely, seriously....