The Room I Tango In


A putrid greed-colored, icy door is all that separates the harsh winter cold from an even colder reality. Once inside, ears are instantly pierced with the shrilling notes of John Williams’s Tango. Feroce. Eyes are stunned as the unforgiving lights beat down. Students run around grabbing their instruments and music, all scrambling to find their place in the ordered rows of seats. Their mothers congregate at a side table in another room, clutching their charcoal colored Chanel purses and clacking their Dior heels. Their penetrating, feral eyes look for signs of weakness.

Soon the melody of the Tango dies down, but still softly rings behind the cacophony of shuffling feet, menacing glances and silent whispers. Calando.

Now, orchestra practice begins.

The conductor, dressed in his usual muted-colored Calvin Klein cardigan and slacks, takes his place in the front. A cold breeze blows in the faces of the students as he walks by, no matter how much the heat is blasting. He slowly pulls out his plastic baton from his dull, leather bag. Every member waits as he scans the music, drawing their instruments to their necks, in the ready position. The smooth wood of the violins, violas, and cellos brush up against the skin of their players, cold to the touch, cold as the sharp knives placed on their throats. Here, the students play a tango of sorts, a dangerous tango. Everyone’s a victim and no one is safe.

Subito Vigoroso!

And with a blur of movement from the baton, the students begin. The Tango screams out in agony as each note is forced out of the pages of the music. Each tone slices through the frosty, intense air. Each movement of the bows jabs at the invisible, ominous presence that lingers. There is no more shuffling of feet. There are no more menacing glances; all eyes are fixed on the conductor’s entrancing baton. And there are no more silent whispers.

There is only music, an intense and haunting music.

Decrescendo! Adagio!

The movement, the vigor that once rang in the room slows down. The cold fingers of the students have warmed up as the blood rushed through their cold veins. A mild glow swells in the students and for a moment, only a moment, they feel security. Everything is questioned. Why is it so cold? Why do we play the Tango? Why?

But that’s just the heat generated by the friction of their fingers on their instruments. The once frosty wood has now warmed up tricking the students of a false security. That moment of bliss comes to a screeching halt as eyes interlock and the Tango echoes. Tacet…

For a brief moment, silence permeates the room like a gentle fragrance. In that reticence, every once in a while, the cackles of the hyenas with their venomous Chanel No.5 echo. The discordant giggles break the silence and throw the students back into the harsh reality of the Tango, a dangerous tango.

Cresdendo! Forte! Fortemissimo!

Explosions of sound resonate through the cream colored walls. The lush, red drapes cannot muffle the music. Every finger articulately dances on the strings as the bows violently run through. The conductor flails his arm around as if in a crazy frenzy. The notes are dragged out of the ink, screaming in pain as they get cut by the adagietto tempo. But just as it began, it ends.

With a simple wave of the baton, everything halts. Subito!

The shuffling feet, menacing glances and silent whispers start up again. And the mothers emerge from the cave with frosty glares. With the Tango now over, the students and mothers promptly get ready to leave from this calamity

The remnants of the Tango lay splattered on the walls and wooden floors. It drips like the color of a sunset, complimenting the curtains that hang around the room. The vestige of the Tango remains in the room, forever imprinted.

After a final glance at the carnage, the students with their mothers shuffle out of the room. They have danced the Tango, a dangerous tango. And because of that, they leave part of themselves with the corpse of the song that lay, not in peace, but in torment in that room.

Each quickly turns away and walks out that putrid greed-colored, cold door into the cold winter night. As the cool breeze slaps them across their faces, the thought that runs across their minds is, “It is warmer out here…”