Monday, December 13, 2010

Getting It

With my red dress and red lips, my hair pulled back on the sides, and my black t-strap shoes, I felt a little bit retro, in the best possible way--channeling a glamor queen of the 1940s. I'd had a great day and was feeling good when I walked--maybe sashayed, a little bit--into the milonga.

My first dance lived up to my hopes. The moment I sat down one favorite partner asked for the next tanda--a wonderful way to start. It had been several weeks since I'd danced--weather and work had disrupted my usual schedule--but we danced well together, as we have been doing more and more in the last year or so.

My next dance was a vals with a nice newer leader I know from classes. It was not our best dance together, but I enjoyed the embrace and focused more on enjoying the music than on the problems we were having, so I was happy.

Then I was asked by another favorite partner: a quiet guy with a wonderful, tender embrace and a strong, sensitive, and musical lead. Dancing with him feels like a form of meditation; it's that relaxing. We glided together across the floor, almost floating. The navigation was hazardous, but nothing seemed to disturb us. Following his smooth, calm lead, my steps felt graceful and elegant. I felt a serene smile growing on my lips. The pressures I've been feeling on and off the dance floor faded away until there was only us and the music. It seemed as if, together, in those moments, there was nothing we couldn't do.

We laughed with sheer delight at the end of the tanda, and hugged our thanks. I sat down with my glass of water, and was happily surprised when he came back after the first song of the next tanda. I took the hand he offered me, and we did it all again.

I danced twice more before leaving at around midnight; it had been a busy day, and I couldn't stop yawning. Six dances in a couple of hours is a very good record for me at that milonga. The later dances were less than wonderful, but I was still so happy from my two earlier tandas that they couldn't bring down my mood.

It's been a while since I've had a night that good, in so many respects. And it always surprises me--although I suppose it shouldn't, by now--how good tango like that can refresh my spirit. I can't always make it happen--but I think I'm starting to see how to more effectively invite it.

Maybe this seeking tango-bliss is, itself, a bit like a good dance. I lead myself by inviting my own happiness, not by bearing down and trying to force it. (May all the saints of tango preserve followers from such a lead!) I may think there is some flaw on a partner's side or in the behavior of people I do not dance with--but in the end, I can only be (and must be) responsible for doing my best on my end. The circumstances may not be ideal--maybe all my favorite partners are not there, maybe we're not connecting well on a given night, maybe I'm in a difficult place inside myself--but you try to dance your best with the partners who are there. You start with the best attitude you can bring, and it seems as though, almost always, good things flow from there.

And, of course, like almost everything about tango, it's not only about tango, is it?


  1. You have described beyond my capacity what a man dancing tango should strive for! I now know my tango goal for the rest of my life :)

  2. I am a greedy dancer and often wish I could clone that leader and fill the milongas with men like him. :) It's the milonguero attitude, miraculously growing in someone who has never, as far as I know, been to Buenos Aires.

    I asked him recently where he began learning tango, and he told me that where he is from, Argentine tango was just starting to become established and dancers really had to teach themselves and each other as best they could. I wonder if there is more similarity between him and the older generations of milogueros than there might initially appear...

    Anyway, lucky women who'll get to dance with you along the way to your goal! Thanks very much for your comment! :)