Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Duet

The beautiful caramel-skinned woman next to me brims with vibrancy and infectious good cheer. She and I have been chatting pleasantly all evening, whenever we are both sitting out. It is getting late, and the crowd at the milonga is thinning. This tanda, we both like the music for listening but not for dancing, so we wait it out.

She begins singing along with the music, although there are no words to the song. When I do a little accidental double-take, not certain what I'm hearing, she grins and leans closer to sing to me, with an exaggerated waggle of her eyebrows. I laugh and quietly join in. I don't think anyone hears us; we're not trying to be heard. We get adventurous and harmonize occasionally, both of us singing nonsense syllables, ba da da, dum dee da da da, until the final bum bum!

We giggle like children as the cortina begins.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The answer is always, Yes, dance!

With gratitude for the inspiration of SallyCat--again.

Summer 2009:

I have just finished dinner in the apartment in Buenos Aires. L, my friend, traveling companion, and all-around partner in crime, has left to return to the States, as scheduled, so I face the prospect of almost another week by myself before my own return.

I had not realized how much her cheerful company had made the trip more fun--nor how comforting it was, in this city we knew so little, to have someone around who was generally as lost and confused as I was.

I noticed it immediately, after seeing her safely into her taxi for the airport: the little apartment was so quiet with just me in it. I cried a little bit, out of loneliness, and turned on the TV for some noise. It is the first time I have turned on the TV since I had been there--up til then I had used the radio, on what seemed to be a 24-hour tango station, oh glorious!--and I left it on all afternoon, into the evening.

As I wash up after dinner, I consider whether I should go out to the milongas that night. Would I really have a good time dancing, as homesick as I was feeling? It would be the first night I'd stayed in since I'd arrived. I could call Sr. and Sra. and make my excuses. Surely no one could blame me if I just took a night off to adjust and get my mood in order...

Uh-uh, said a little voice in my head. You didn't come all the way to Argentina to sit in your room and watch American sitcom reruns on TV! Think how L would scold you for that! You came here to dance, and you're going to go out there and meet your friends who are expecting you, and you are going to dance!

So I got cleaned up, had a fortifying bite of chocolate, and headed out to the milonga. And it was the best thing I could have done.

New Year's Day, 2011:

I am embarrassed and upset over the bad night at the New Year's Eve milonga in Nearby City. I sleep late on my cousin's couch, and then I laze around, reading, as long as I can. I put on an Internet tango radio station for noise.

As the sun starts to set, I know that I need to make up my mind whether I am going out this evening or not. If I am, then I need to start getting ready to go to dinner with my cousin.

I could just stay in, I think. Maybe it would be better to give the milonga tonight a pass. Spend more time with my cousin. Finish my book. Yesterday had been a very rough night, and surely nobody could blame me if I wanted to skip it tonight. With the mood I was in, would I really have fun anyway?

Uh-uh, says that little voice in my head--which sounds a bit like a drill sergeant, sometimes. You didn't come all the way here just to sit around in your pajamas and read! You came here to dance, and you are going to clean yourself up for a nice dinner, and you're going to go to the milonga and see whether there are any friends there, and you are going to dance!

And so I did. And it was the best thing I could have done.

Monday, January 3, 2011

History repeating?

I think it was two years ago that I first went to Nearby City with tango friends to dance over New Year's.

(...Yes, I think it must have been, because last year I spent New Year's home with a disgusting cold, watching a marathon of The Thin Man movies on TV. At least someone in the house was terribly glamorous and witty and jet-setting, even if it was only the people on the screen!)

That year, the dancing on the Eve was not so good for me. It was a rowdy, mostly open-embrace group, and I didn't dance much. But I got to know my traveling companions better, I replaced my worn-out black winter coat with a beautiful red one (opening my mind to the idea that black was not the only choice for my winter outerwear), and the seeds of my eventual trip to Buenos Aires were planted with the encouragement of a friend--because the dancing at a different milonga, on New Year's Day, was marvelous. I had as many dances as I could handle with partners new and old, who remain some of my favorites in the area.

It was all strangely echoed this year. Again, the milonga on New Year's Eve was not a good one for me (for reasons beyond just the prevailing dance style, but let's skim over that). It was too viciously cold for my pretty red coat--had to wear the heavier long one (which, by the way, is also not black; yay, colors!)--but I wore my rather stunning red dress, so at least I looked quite fabulous, in spite of the difficult night.

(It has been said before by others, but apparently it always bears saying again... Gentlemen, when you are dancing with a lady at a social event--not at a class or a practica, where one is seeking to learn new things and practice the things that give one trouble--and she has difficulty with a particular step, it is good manners and considerate dancing not to keep repeating that step as though you are hoping she'll have a sudden breakthrough if you just do it again and again. She might, I suppose; she may be able to identify and correct the problem without help--if it really is a problem with her following ... But more likely she will find herself deeply embarrassed in public, when in fact she may be a very competent dancer, at an event where everyone's main concern should only be to enjoy themselves with lovely dances. 

(I may write more about this later, because this is, unfortunately, also something that appears to repeat itself, with different partners and who-can-predict which steps. Also, I have some thoughts on the felicitous organization of special events at a milonga. But anyway.)

I was daunted to the point of considering staying home the next night, but I'm pretty stubborn and generally a believer in getting back up on the horse (or, in this case, the milonga) that threw you--and, besides, I knew this one was under the charge of different organizers, the same pair who had run the one that had gone so well for me two years ago, so I hoped it would again be better.

And it was. Once again, I had almost as many dances as I could handle from a number of lovely partners who, once again, made me feel wonderfully welcome. By the time I left, I was limping on tired, happy feet.

To anyone who may read this, I wish you a warm and lovely new year--with lots of beautiful dances!