The art of dancing is something that can become all-consuming to a person. Look to professional dancers who take class upon class, perfecting their technique and learning new styles. For non-professionals, dance can also be a source of exercise, stress release, or just a way to let loose and have fun. As someone who took tap dance lessons for 13 years I can relate to how infectious dance can become for a person. I remember as a child taking my first tap lessons, and becoming obsessed with old black-and-white musicals with my aunt and grandma just so that I could watch the elaborate tap numbers. Dancing is one of my fondest memories from childhood and conversely it helped me get through some harder periods of life. Knowing I could lose myself in class with my friends each week and just tap out my feelings on the floor was helpful with the stresses of a teen life. When I heard about Maria Finn’s Hold Me Tight and Tango Me Home, I knew I had to read it and learn how dance had not only affected her, but changed her life.
In her memoir, Finn, a journalist and regular contributor to New York Magazine, finds herself free-floating and lost upon finding out that her husband (and salsa lesson partner) has cheated on her. To try to cope with this and find some sense of reality again, she signs up for tango lessons in New York City. As she slowly rebuilds her life, she learns the sweeping and seductive moves of the Argentine Tango as well as the history behind this passion filled dance. Finn rejuvenates her life by creating a new circle of friends that she meets while taking lessons. She realizes that she has been built back up to a new level of happiness and inner peace, and culminates her lessons with a trip to Buenos Aires, the birthplace of the Tango. What she finds is that she’s been reborn herself.
Finn’s journey of self-discovery through the use of tango is absolutely inspiring. Her memoir proves that dance can and does have major impacts on a persons self-esteem and self-worth. Upon finishing this novel I looked at Todd and said, “I really need to start taking tango lessons.” Finn’s memoir is written with a personality that is 100% infectious. The way she chooses to look at her life makes the reader want to step back and re-evaluate the things that are important in his/her own life. The ending is truly a culmination of the dance of tango, as well as Finn’s rebirth.
An added surprise in the memoir was learning about the extensive history and technique of the tango. It’s obvious that Finn did her research and enjoyed doing it. The portions of the work that deal with the background of the dance were clear, concise, and well researched.
The book is a great poetic ode to dance and to the tango. I’d be highly interested in reading a follow-up to see where Finn is now in life and with her tango! (I’m also really curious to find out where all her tango friends are and what they’re all doing!)
4 out of 5 Stars
Hold Me Tight & Tango Me Home by Maria Finn
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (2010)
eBook: 240 pages