Tango at sea

So I woke up the morning after my 43rd birthday and asked my friend, “Is it possible that I got up on a stage and did a tango last night?”

New condo kitchen with an island where the wall used to be.
New condo kitchen with an island where the wall used to be.

“Yes,” she replied, “you did.”

It’s not that I didn’t remember. It was more of a “pinch me” moment.

How did this come about? Well, first let me fill you in on the past couple of months of no blog posts.

Sadly there was not a whole lot of exciting cooking going on to share with you. That’s mainly because I did a 100% overhaul of my little condo kitchen. For about three weeks, I ate a steady diet of homemade frozen dinners…lasagna, macaroni and cheese, Jamie Oliver’s hit and run chicken which I’ve blogged about before (it freezes well).

The renovation was finished enough to move everything back in and function just in time for my parents’ arrival to cat-sit while I went off frolicking on a Caribbean cruise for a week with the best friends in the whole wide world.

My friend's artsy no-flash shot of my tango with Yamil.
My friend’s artsy no-flash shot of my tango with Yamil.

We were on Holland America’s MS Eurodam, and on top of all the amazing food, formal nights, evening cocktails, tearing up the rug to the BB King Blues Band, lolling around on deck chairs, sailing, snorkelling, and digging our toes into the sand while winter raged at home, they also had Dancing with the Stars at Sea.

I love to dance and hardly ever get to. So I was all over this like white on rice. They held three dance lessons through the week, and chose a male and female contestant from each one. I was chosen for the tango. I’d really have preferred the jive – I love swing dancing best – but the tango lesson came first and beggars can’t be choosers. Plus, it’s not such a bad thing to be pushed out of your comfort zone – making my 12-year-old boy hips swing for a sexy tango is not my forte but I did my best.

The six of us got paired up with professional dancers to perform our routines in the show on the final night of the cruise, complete with judges waving their scores on paddles and the audience voting with their applause, just like on the TV show. My dancer, Yamil, was sweet, patient and had great tips for pleasing the judges. When he found out it was my birthday, he told me I didn’t look a day over 35. Bless him.

So I got to spend my birthday on a pristine beach with my best friends, in and out of the crystal blue water, in and out of the hot tub in our villa, and soaking up sun and the latest Bridget Jones novel, then dancing my tango with a pro and an orchid tucked behind my year under the bright lights and to the applause of the crowd – especially my friends and all the Canadians on board. I came in second behind a guy who clearly had loads of dance and gymnastics training…he did a back flip in his jive.

This is the way to spend your birthday.
This is the way to spend your birthday.

But who cares about the score. I can’t tell you how much fun that was. It was more than two weeks ago and I’m still on a high. I can’t get the stupid grin off my face. And why should I? This icing on the cake of the entire awesome vacation was just what the doctor ordered after the totally crap year I’ve had. I feel like I’ve turned a corner.

The whole experience was a fleeting taste of something I love and it left me wanting more. Not the competition. Just more dancing. So I’ve signed up for a session of classic Latin dance. And please slap me if I don’t sign up on time for the Dalhousie Swing Society in the fall because I just love to dance to all that jazz.


Dessert on the first night. The standard was set and met.
Dessert on the first night. The standard was set and met.

ps – There should be an eight-step program for anyone who cruises. How am I supposed to get through life now without somebody laying a napkin across my lap and handing me a fine dining menu every night? Oh right, I have a brand new kitchen to cook in! Stay tuned for more adventures in my lovely new efficient space.