I WANT TO HOLD THE HAND INSIDE YOU

BY RAMON DE VEYRA

There's a video on Youtube I've seen more than any other. I watch it at least once every two to three months. I've been watching it for over 10 years.

There's a video on Youtube I've seen more than any other. I watch it at least once every two to three months. I've been watching it for over 10 years.

Fade Into You - Fred Astaire & Rita Hayworth by Mazzy Star

It lovingly knits scenes from two films Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth made together, all set to Mazzy Star's haunting "Fade Into You," ubiquitous in 1994. At least, ubiquitous to those of us in the throes of alternative music, when the term "indie" hadn't yet established a beachhead on the shores of popular consciousness.

 

I clicked on it because of Mazzy Star, not because of Astaire or Hayworth. I knew of them, of course, but separately. When one thinks of Fred Astaire, it's usually with Ginger Rogers; when one thinks of Rita Hayworth, it's usually as Gilda.

But this video made me fall in love with them as a duo. Paired with "Fade Into You"'s languorous rhythms and singer Hope Sandoval's wistful vocals, Astaire and Hayworth are mesmerizing, their movement so graceful and fluid and perfectly in sync it borders on the uncanny. They exchange energy, but also share it. It may not be the most technically dazzling but it's the most simpatico I've ever seen two dancers. Their timing is impeccable, not just in their motion but in their stillness; even the angles at which they tilt necks, arms, legs display a buoyant symmetry. Somewhere in the back of my mind I know this took weeks of rehearsals, but they make it look effortless. My disbelief is suspended; I buy into the fantasy that this is a spontaneous eruption of feeling, overwhelming both players.

My disbelief is suspended; I buy into the fantasy that this is a spontaneous eruption of feeling, overwhelming both players.    

The video made me a fan of this particular tandem, and sent me down a rabbit hole of research. I found and watched the two films (1941's You'll Never Get Rich and 1942's You Were Never Lovelier). They were the only ones they made together, as after his pairing with Rogers, Astaire was wary of being again linked so aggressively to a co-star (he never did more than two films with any other lead actress). You'll Never Get Rich was Hayworth's first film as a lead, and Astaire's first after ending his partnership with Rogers. He was 42 and she was 23. It was a risk for both, but it helped that they knew each other from the days of vaudeville, when Astaire knew Hayworth's father, her dancing partner at the time (Astaire's was his sister). Astaire was often asked who his favorite dancing partner was, and ever the gentleman, he politely demurred. But in an interview shortly before his passing, he admitted it was Hayworth.

 

I am not alone in having been profoundly affected by this video. Peruse the comments and you'll see similar sentiments. Hell, Camille Paglia shared a link to it in one of her columns for Salon.com. As legend tells it (read: the comments) it was posted long ago by a user named 1MajorKronig, but when their account was deactivated their videos disappeared. It resurfaced on Vimeo but now is back on Youtube, albeit a ripped version with lower resolution. But oh, how glad I am that it came back, that someone had the foresight to download it.

I watch the full numbers every now and then, either online or using my digital copies. But more often, I return to this video: Sandoval crooning, the plaintive guitar, the insistent piano, Fred & Rita in the garden at night, swaying gently to and fro, like they were floating in the ocean, like breathing. Then gliding, jumping, so light on their feet it feels like gravity's merely a suggestion.

 

Every time, I swoon again.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ramon De Veyra has been published in Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin Life, Rappler, Esquire Philippines, Rogue, Preview, and more. He's written for TV and film as well. He will even do voice work. You should hire him.

Elaine Forsgate Marden

Fernando &  Kit Zobel de Ayala