Jo, a science teacher, finds escape from her demanding and busy job in evening Tango dancing classes. However, the bus ride to the dance hall turns into an invasive nightmare. Jo finally get to her well-attended class to enjoy the creative and beautiful use of time and interacting language of dance and music.
A 10 minute short film by Aphrodite
1. INT. SCHOOL LABORATORY – DAY
Groups of twelve-year old BOYS & GIRLS cluster around islands of science equipment in a school laboratory. Some are heating coloured liquids over Bunsen flames. JO, 30s, zig-zags amongst them in a pristine buttoned lab coat & safety spectacles pushed into a ponytail. She uses a pen as a pointer, giving instructions and responding to questions. Excited CHATTER drowns her voice. Jo points to diagrams on a whiteboard & a poster of ‘dos and don’ts in the lab’.
One BOY stands watching as his friend HAQNAWAZ obscures inflated balloons.
Pins ready? On three, one, two, three…
Girls SCREAM, Jo GASPS, boys jump back, glass BREAKS.
Haqnawaz! And you, detention tomorrow.
2. INT. SCHOOL LABORATORY- A LITTLE LATER
Stools & tables stand disordered. Dirty equipment remains. A dustpan & brush lies by broken glass. Jo wipes the whiteboard clean. Sitting at her desk she pockets her safety specs & rests her head in both hands. A bell RINGS, excited SCREAMING & SHOUTING follows.
3. INT. COMMUNAL STAFF ROOM- LATE MORNING
Jo’s unbuttoned lab coat reveals a V-necked blood red top. As she rifles through mail from her pigeon hole, PAUL, a tall poised teacher in his 40s enters the empty staff room. He eyes Jo appreciatively & peers over her shoulder glimpsing her cleavage.
Rising voices(o.s.)warn of approaching STAFF. Paul nimbly sidesteps & checks his pigeon-hole.
Jo pats her pockets and withdraws a pen & paper. Writing turns to aggressive scribbling & Jo bins the pen. Paul produces a silver & black ink pen with substantial barrel. He extends it suggestively at cleavage level.
Here miss. You can hold onto this for the day.
Jo regards him with a cool look.
How’s your wife?
4. INT. SCHOOL SCIENCE STAFFROOM- LATE AFTERNOON
VIC, The Head of Dept & middle-aged boffin enters carrying an armful of papers & dumps them on a large table. Seated SCIENCE STAFF & Jo look up from reading documents.
Sorry I’m late. Just give me a minute.
Jo leans back with arms folded & exhales. Vic pushes thick-rimmed glasses further up his nose & hands out more papers.
Jo looks at her watch, drinks coffee & taps her pen. Her lab coat hangs open. Nearby stands an unzipped holdall from which something seems to sparkle. In front of her Jo’s open diary shows ‘meeting 4-5pm’ circled.
5. INT. THE SAME-LATER
The clock shows 4.55pm. Jo finishes her coffee, looks at her watch then longingly at the holdall.
6. EXT. UNDERGROUND STATION- EARLY EVENING
Hurrying past a bus queue to the tube station Jo halts at a sign ‘Line closed due to signal failure’. Jo heaves a SIGH & hastens to join the moving queue as a bus approaches.
7. EXT. BUS STOP - EARLY EVENING
As Jo is carried forward onto the bus she studies the small crowd. It’s late Autumn & many wear jackets or coats. They carry briefcases, rucksacks & bags of shopping. Jo waves her pass & spots empty seats.
People FILTER through the bus & go upstairs but Jo remains downstairs near the front of the half-full bus in a seat facing backwards. She adjusts her coat, rests the holdall on her lap & looks out the window at the traffic. White lights stare back in the dark.
Jo sees the reflection of an Hawaiian shirt & cardigan worn by a man in his 40s. This WEIRDO holds out a bag of sweets to a SUITED WOMAN alongside but she turns away.
In the glass Jo sees him glance at her then turn to look back. Jo follows his look but sees only the reflection of passengers. This is replaced by the passing lights of shops & traffic as the bus accelerates.
The bus bell RINGS.
8. SAME - A FEW MINUTES LATER
At the next stop a COUPLE occupying front seats leave. Jo grabs the vacant window seat & the weirdo exits. Looking out the window at the people now boarding Jo looks surprised as she sees the weirdo amongst them.
Jo tucks her coat under her legs. She hugs her bag closer as a middle-aged CAPED WOMAN approaches, but instead a STREET CLEANER with chips takes the seat. Jo edges closer to the window. His fluorescent jerkin is smeared with dirt. He licks his fingers. Jo’s nose wrinkles.
From the reflection Jo notices the weirdo has taken her old seat & is staring at her. Penned in she eyes the door, her fingers tap nervously. A TOURIST drags on a suitcase with airport tags dangling. He waves a £5 note at the DRIVER.
Can’t change that.
The CAPED WOMAN rummages in her bag. She returns to the front offering the tourist coins.
Here, I can change that for you.
The weirdo pipes up.
Come on! Drive on driver, just leave them.
The caped woman & tourist swap monies. He nods repeatedly in thanks.
An ELDERLY MAN grasps a door rail & heaves himself up. He ferrets about in his pockets finally plucking out his pass.
The weirdo strains his neck to see what the delay is. Jo looks at her watch & rubs the back of her neck.
Come on. Stop showing your medals.
The elderly man shows his pass & shuffles to an empty seat.
9. SAME- A FEW MINUTES LATER
The bus Bell RINGS
The street cleaner & weirdo get off. Jo visibly relaxes and lets her eyes wander but resumes a guarded pose when the weirdo reboards for the third time.
A WOMAN WITH A MOBILE PHONE talks ANIMATEDLY taking the seat next to Jo without breaking her conversation.
MOBILE PHONE WOMAN
...for Christ’s sake girl, why don’t
you ignore him?
MOBILE PHONE WOMAN
We’ve been through this before.
So I sound like I’m pissed off. Would
anyone blame me? You never listen.
Jo DUCKS to avoid the mobile phone woman’s elbow as she combs her fingers through long hair. She places a calf onto her thigh, her spiked heel hovering close to Jo’s knee. Jo tries to cross her legs but can’t. The mobile phone woman traces lines along her booted leg.
MOBILE PHONE WOMAN
Why don’t you just ask him straight out?
Jo exasperated shakes her head. A TATTOOED MAN behind POPS bubble gum. Jo’s cautious glance reveals his clenched fist magnifying the word LOVE on the knuckles resting near her shoulder. The bus brakes suddenly thrusting Jo against the fist, it’s sharply withdrawn. She grips her bag staring at the angry snake of red lights ahead. CRACKING knuckles accompany the POPPING gum.
The bus bell RINGS
11. SAME – A FEW MINUTES LATER
The bus stops & an ELDERLY WOMAN struggles to get off through the front doors. Jo rises to help & pushes past the mobile phone woman.
Turning back to her seat Jo collides with the weirdo waiting expectantly behind with a hand outstretched for similar assistance. Jo ignores it but now the caped woman has taken her seat. Jo looks heavenwards in disbelief. She stands near the front shouldering her heavy bag.
The weirdo exits once again through the front as a PUNKETTE chewing gum & two trendy young AFRICAN men board. One is BALD, one has HAIR. The weirdo does not re-board. Jo, relieved takes a good look at him in the street. One trouser leg is caught around his calf, the other hovers above a sandal. He gives that leg a kick & shake to the side, like a dog after a pee.
12. INT. BUS – NEAR THE DRIVER’S CABIN
Jo is squashed against the punkette as the two African men heave bags into the raised luggage area. Jo squirms & shifts to find space.
A mobile phone beeps an IRRITATING TUNE & is eventually answered. Jo WHINCES as pins & needles sting her hand. She SHAKES it vigorously.
The mobile phone woman continues her conversation.
TINNY MUSIC escapes from the punkette’s earphones.
The bus REVS to move off, the music VOLUME INCREASES & Jo SHIFTS her weight several times. Jo & other passengers GLARE at the source of the noise. The punkette leans against the staircase with her eyes shut, nodding her high red mohican & stamping a platformed boot to the beat.
The BALD AFRICAN MAN searches the bags. He finds long johns & hangs them against jigging legs then adds pelvic thrusts. Jo avoids his eyes & TWISTS away looking for escape.
He returns them to the bag. He ‘magicks out’ a pair of lurid briefs with a white fur pouch. Jo DUCKS. He holds them up to eye level & stretches the elastic.
The man with hair slaps the shiny head of his bald friend.
TINNY music competes with the IRRITATING TUNE of the mobile and IRATE monosyllabic responses from the mobile phone woman. Jo seeing a space squeezes her way to the stairs to be met by SNEEZING & loud nose blowing (oov).
By the exit a large pasty-faced man in his mid-30s produces a hanky & TRUMPETS into it with a disgusting snotty sound.
Jo’s face contorts with horror. Her eyes trace a path of imaginary germs from his nose to the punkette. Jo GLARES at the sneezing man as he blows his nose again into the hanky.
The bus bell RINGS.
13. INT BUS-SHORT TIME LATER
A SMART MAN in a hound’s-tooth jacket holding a golf umbrella boards & squeezes in front of JO. He grips an overhead handle. Jo BLINKS repeatedly & averts her eyes from the dizzy fabric & FANS a hand under her nose.
The umbrella is angled dangerously. Jo INHALES DEEPLY & rises on tiptoe imagining herself taking up less space. She MASSAGES the shoulder carrying the bag. The smart man scratches his ankle with the toe of his other foot.
The bus accelerates then JOLTS. The smart man loses his balance. His raised foot swings out & kicks Jo’s shin,
then lands heavily on her toes. The umbrella SHOOTS into her ribs. She snaps her foot up, limping & hopping, nursing her ribs & shin. The bus swerves. Jo reaches for a handle. The smart man stumbles but grabbing at Jo’s boob saves him. Jo’s well of patience bursts, her face contorts in pain.
Get your hands off. Christ my toes, my ribs.
Jo glares at his umbrella & produces a tiny fold-up brolly.
Why don’t you carry one of these?
The smart man looks incredulous.
It’s too small. Look, I’m really very sorry.
Size isn’t everything.
The punkette’s mohican mechanically cuts the air in time with a stomping foot and tinny beat.
MOBILE PHONE WOMAN
What? I can’t hear you. Speak up.
14. SAME-A SHORT TIME LATER
At the next stop more people push past. The bus moves off. A SWEATY MAN pushes hard against Jo. She pivots her foot, raises a stiletto heel & skewers the man’s toes. He YELPS & moves. Jo turns so that men brush against her bag only.
The bell RINGS.
15.SAME-A BIT LATER-THE NEXT STOP
A HOODED YOUTH & A SPOTTY YOUTH leap on. They wave passes, passengers clump together as the youths shadow-box to the stairs before jogging up.
Oi! Come back ‘ere.
The hooded youth elbows his way back to the driver. Jo seems to be praying.
He waves his pass quickly in front of the driver’s cabin.
... it’s valid ok.
He sneers at retreating passengers & bounds upstairs.
The engine CUTS OUT & low thumping fills the void. The punk girl’s nodding mohican & stomping gain momentum with her hammering fist.
Jo contemplates her watch. The sneezing man trumpets & wipes his nose. Jo throws him a disgusted look which travels to the stairs. Jo mutters to herself
Come on. Come on, come on, come on.
She scans the passengers. Eyes focus on newspapers, the stairs, watches or windows.
The driver leans out of his cabin to target the stairs.
Both of you back ‘ere.
16. INT BUS – NEAR THE STAIRS
Jo bends towards the stairs. The hanky man SNEEZES but his hanky arrives too late shooting mucus onto a mortified Jo.
Ugh! Yeuch! Disgusting!
She stares at mucus blobs on her sleeve. She rejects his hanky and cleans up with a tissue.
Why don’t you stay at home instead of
Jo turns her attention to the stairs, looking up.
And why don’t you pay or get off?
The hooded youth jogs downstairs & quickly assesses who owns the voice. Jo steps back towards the business man with the umbrella. He retreats his eyes appealing for support.
Who are you talking to slag?
Jo feels it’s her against the world.
The hooded youth displays his pass close to her face.
My pass is ok. Look.
17. INT. BUS-NEAR THE DRIVER’S CABIN
The spotty youth appears. The driver looks at them both.
DRIVERWhat about the other one then? Come on, show me yours.
The youths bulldoze their way to the front. The hooded youth turns poised ready for fight, but the spotty youth pulls him off the bus. The hooded youth punches the air.
18. INT. BUS – VIEW THROUGH GLASS ONTO PAVEMENT
The engine is REVVED. The hooded youth BANGS a window. He presses his face to the glass searching for Jo. His hands shoot through the closing doors, pulling at the edges. His leering face is framed.
I’ve clocked your face.
He’s yanked away, the doors snap shut & bus accelerates.
Jo grips her forehead. The stomping boot, thumping i-pod beat, beeping mobile, revving engine, nose blowing are interrupted by the bell RINGING repeatedly & irate driver.
Okay, okay, I’m not deaf, I heard ya.
The bus brakes. Jo hurries to the exit & steps into the semi-darkness outside. The bus speeds off. A moment’s stillness merges with a rising relentless rhythm of tango music. Jo shakes her hair free from the ponytail, and hastens towards a church hall.
19. EXT. CHURCH HALL -A SHORT TIME LATER
Jo pushes open a door displaying a poster with ‘Tango tonight’. Soul-searching music pulls her inside cutting off the outside world.
20. INT. FOYER OF CHURCH HALL - EVENING
Jo hands over £10 & her holdall to the DOORMAN. The doorman takes Jo’s coat. It slips from her shoulders revealing a backless dress. Jo checks her hair & face in a mirror. She swivels to reveal a stunning costume.
Her striking PARTNER leads her into the erotically charged space already alive with dancing couples led by the pulsating rhythm & melody.
There’s a moment of synchronized staccato dance-movement as the music changes to fast-pounding urgent digitations of fingers on a bandeone. Jo & her partner weave amongst other criss-crossing couples caught in the contagious rhythm.
Jo & her partner develop a dynamic interplay of body positioning that defines their personal style.
The addictive rhythms drug the air, piercing the boundaries of the hall to the air outside. Intimate, yearning notes drift past the tango poster & the black silhouette of an embracing couple aligned with more words ‘Your local milonga - the place to make dreams come true’.