Studying Flamenco in the Midst of Love and Death

Catherine Taylor at The Believer:

My classes occupy me fully. Codo means elbow. Rodilla means knee. Tobillo means ankle, Muy pronunciado means very steep. Adquirido means acquired. Me llena means it satisfies me, it fills me up. The classes exhaust and complete me. When I come home, I lie down and keep the shutters closed. My t-shirt is always damp and sweaty. I think about kissing and open my mouth to the air. The patterns of the dance repeat even when I am lying down; they won’t leave and this is confusing and pleasurable. One teacher tells us to tip our foot outward to show off its “lady parts.” My ankle hurts every day. “Don’t just do the steps,” she says, “dance.” I make a kind of friendship of glances with the body next to mine day after day. Some days, there is a raised eyebrow about the other woman who races ahead of the beat. No corré! the teacher yells. No corré! Joder. You’re fucking us up. Uno dos tres. Quatro cinco seis. Seite. Ocho. Nueve. Diez. Un Dos. Uno dos tres. In the changing room, it is so loud, you have to shout in five different languages. There is more Spanish than English, more English than German, more German than Japanese, more Japanese than French. Everyone is racing, stripping off stretchy tops, baring sweaty breasts, wriggling into dry tops, stepping out of silly long black lycra skirts.

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