Arabesque: Dancing on the Edge in Los Angeles by Cherie Magnus
A prequel to the award-winning memoir, The Church of Tango.Virtual Book Tour Dates: 1/12/15 to 1/19/15
Genres: Personal Memoir, YA, University, Personal Relationships, Dance
Sale Price: $2.99
It’s 1960 in Los Angeles. Cherie is 17 and on the threshold of change, even as the world awaits the cataclysmic turbulence that soon comes. Cherie is a dancer, a student at UCLA, and in love with a handsome, troubled graduate student who wants her to give up her career plans. The havoc sets her off-balance and into a nightmare world far from her dreams.
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ARABESQUE: DANCING ON THE EDGE IN LOS ANGELES
Wings of Mercury
Be Mercury, set feathers to thy heels, And fly like thought from them to me again.
—Shakespeare, “King John”
Six months before my sixteenth birthday, my father bought me a 1957 shiny black Mercury Montclair convertible, a ragtop. It escaped me at the time, because unlike him I never had the hots for vehicles, but it must have been nifty, real neat, or as my best friend’s boyfriend Scooter said when he saw it, “Bitchin’!”
Dad often gave me things he wanted for himself—like an accordion for Christmas when I was ten, a poodle puppy for Valentine’s Day, and a movie camera for high school graduation. Whether Daddy used me as an excuse to buy a hip car or not, the Merc came in so handy and made my life easier, better, and more grounded. It had a sharp black and yellow interior, automatic transmission, radio, heater, and electric top retraction, but it didn’t matter to me if it was cool or fancy, only that it started up and took me wherever I wanted to go. I could depend on my car and myself. My Merc was always where I left it, waiting for me.
Dad installed a wolf-whistle as a surprise and, as was the custom for cool cars in the fifties, painted a name, “Mme. Cherie,” in fancy pinstriped script on the rear fender, which caused me no end of embarrassment. Madame?
One of my high school boyfriends had a souped up ’49 Ford named a discreet “Fabulous Fooler.” Outside, it was stock, but under the hood there was enough power to catch unsuspecting drag racers off guard with the Fooler’s fast get up and go. Speed was vital to “Bubblehead” Barry, but reliability was what was important to me.
Having my own transportation meant I could stay in the same high school until graduation. My parents moved house frequently, and throughout my childhood and adolescence I changed schools every few months, which flipped me out. Until my Merc I depended on my mom to drive me to school and my dance lessons. But with wheels, it didn’t matter that we shifted from one rented house to another all over the San Fernando Valley. At last, I was able to keep my ties to school, friends and dancing.
For the first time in my life, I felt liberated. Alone in my car, I could go anywhere I wanted, with whomever I wanted, at any time I wanted, so long as I had a dollar to buy three gallons of gas. I was in control of my own destiny. Now that I was behind the wheel, a car to me meant the Land of the Free and my Mercury was a ticket to fly there.
When ultimately, at seventeen, I drove over the hill to Westwood to attend UCLA, the air was cool and fresh from the Santa Monica sea breezes, the Village was old and quaint, and the University had history, tradition and knowledge along with the biggest library I had ever seen. I was so glad to leave the Valley behind and to begin the life I felt was rightfully mine. It was 1960 and my world—the whole world—was about to change forever. I couldn’t wait.
About the Author:
Cherie Magnus, born and raised in Los Angeles, was a dance research librarian in the L.A. Central Library and a dance critic for local newspapers before moving to France, Mexico, and finally Argentina in 2003. Many of her articles on dance, travel and international culture have been published in magazines, professional journals, and several anthologies, such as Solamente en San Miguel, and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life. She wrote a tango blog from 2006-2014. A Finalist in the Buenos Aires Tango Championships in 2006, she has appeared in two video documentaries. She now lives in Los Angeles.
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