Well, that was unexpectedly satisfying! A gamble paid off: I can add a new partner to the list of people I can dance with at the open-embrace group's events! I hope he'll be at their next milonga, because I'm looking forward to dancing with him again. He led a few things I'm not very good at (a volcada, for instance), but overall was clear, smooth, unhurried, and easy to follow. I felt like I danced best with him, out of everyone else that weekend. A very pleasant surprise.
Nice dances with other partners too. Not my best dancing ever, but mostly satisfactory in my judgment--and apparently in my partners' too.
There was one new guy (and when I say "new" in this case, I mean that I think he is new to tango) who asked me, who I did not dance well with. When I stepped up close, he got this wide-eyed, "What is she doing, she's all up in my space!" expression on his face, so we defaulted to open embrace and stumbled our way through a dance.
I think it's pretty funny when people who haven't been exposed to close embrace (I'm just guessing) panic like that, at the invasion of their space. Yes, the close embrace is unusual and often uncomfortable at first, I think especially for Americans; it took some getting used to for me too. We are not used to close contact with strangers, in this culture; we generally have a much wider personal bubble than many other societies do, and going up and hugging a perfect stranger? No way! Luckily I had teachers early on (both my regular teachers and some wonderful out-of-town guests) who understand that and guide beginners through their initial freakouts very carefully, with a lot of patience and humor.
But I am not always so patient and careful. I wanted to grab this guy by the shoulders and shake him and, staring into his eyes like a madwoman, shout, "Yes, I'm in your personal space; it's tango! It's all about being in each others' space--wonderfully, gloriously in each others' space!--for just a few minutes of our lives!"
Just a few minutes of connection with another human being--maybe a stranger, maybe a loved one, or anything in between--whether you're glad or sorry, in the end, that it's only a few minutes.
Advice I followed (and advice I didn't follow) - We recently received a comment on one of our old posts from way way way back in 2010. I had mentioned in the post that our great friend and teacher Albert...
7 hours ago