Thursday, January 28, 2010

The beginning

I stumbled into tango about four years ago. Like most great things in life, or so I've heard, it began more or less by accident. After graduating college and entering the working world, I found myself with obscene amounts of time on my hands in the evenings. (What do people do when they're not plowing through piles of literary criticism and frantically writing papers the night before they're due?) I'd always wanted to learn to dance--something, anything, it was all the same to me and my two left feet, my repressed Anglo-Catholic hips, my hopeless inability to memorize choreography, and my mild case of directional dyslexia. Still, I'd always wanted to learn to dance.

(I'd probably seen too many movies in which the class wallflower, supposedly unrecognizably beautiful now that she's taken off her glasses and gotten a decent dress, steps onto the dance floor and dazzles everyone at the prom; something like that. I still dream of that for myself, secretly. Well, not very secretly at all, now...)

So one evening, I decided to look up dance classes in my hometown, where I was once again living. There was a ballroom class, but it met on a night when I already had a firm commitment. Further down the list was a milonguero-style Argentine tango class (whatever that meant).

"Tango," I mused, as visions flashed through my mind of sinuous women in fishnet stockings with roses in their hair, twining their legs around their partners--broad-shouldered toughs in pinstriped trousers and fedoras--each staring into the other's eyes with a smoldering look of mingled hatred and desire. "That sounds sexy interesting... And maybe I'll meet some nice guys there."

Never mind that I don't have the type of body that can make that sort of movie-tango thing look good (there is nothing sinuous about me), or that I'd feel like a fool trying. The class would only be once a week for about a month, and it wasn't expensive. If I didn't like it, no big deal; I'd try something else later.

It turned out very different than I expected.

Milonguero-style tango, I discovered, does not look like the movies--and thank God for that! It means that people of all ages, sizes, and shapes can dance beautifully. It means that I can dance without feeling foolish. It also means that I spent most of the length of that beginner class waiting for the female instructor to wrap her leg around the male teacher, clench a rose between her teeth, or lunge low to the floor with one leg flung out behind her. (Yeah, like that.) Seriously, it took weeks for it to sink in for me that this was not going to happen.

And far from not liking tango, or even being indifferent to it, far from shrugging it off and moving on to whatever I might be free for next (bellydancing, maybe? it's still on my list)...

...I fell in love.

Not with a man; there was a disappointing dearth of cute, young, single guys in the class. Oh, there were cute young guys, all right--but they had mostly been dragged there by their girlfriends/fiancees/young wives. (Ugh.)

I fell in love with the dance.

I don't remember the exact moment it began--maybe I will once I look back at my old journal entries, and then maybe I'll write about it here. I don't think it was during that first class, although that had interested me enough to want to take the next-level course. But it wasn't long before I first experienced that glorious feeling where everything goes right, and knew that this was something I wanted to keep doing.

Four years later, I think I love it more than ever. This past summer, a friend and I made the Tango Pilgrimage to Buenos Aires--about which, more later, surely. For now, suffice it to say, it was wonderful.

I've been writing about tango privately ever since I started dancing. Some of my friends have been persistent in urging me to start a public blog about it, but I've always resisted--there are lots of good (and some outrageously bad) tango blogs out there; who cares about the ramblings of a girl from Nowhere, USA?

Maybe no one will, and that's okay. But I thought I'd give this a try--if only because I'd thought of a title years ago, and I don't want anyone else to get to it first.

I'm not quite sure what I want this to be, or how I'm going to do things like address four years' backlog of my writing--not least when I've grown and changed a lot, both as a dancer and as a person generally, in that time, as anyone would--and preserve people's anonymity. But that's okay too; plenty of time to figure it out.

For now, it's enough to have made a start.


  1. YAY!!!!!!! :D

    That is all. You may return to typing up your next entry, now. ;)

  2. Haha! Thanks for your encouragement, dear. :) (I'm going to have to really fight the urge to constantly edit; I've tweaked it already!)

  3. w00t!!!

    Can't wait to see where you go with this! I've probably missed a lot of good stuff now that I don't sign in on the other site and can't see locked posts. Will bookmark this now! :-)

  4. Thanks very much, hon! (I'm curious where I'll go with it too. :)

  5. I fell into blogging completely by accident 4 years ago, and while I'm not sure it's a "great thing," I get a lot of satisfaction from it. At the very least, it helps me feel connected to the rest of the world from down here so very far south.

    I think many people fall into tango the same way.

    Good luck on starting a journey that can indeed change your life!

  6. Fabulous! Thank you, Cherie! Your blog is always a joy to read!