One or many?

IMG_3265 My tango journey is entering a new phase and change is never easy. I am working out what I want from my tango now, and I am discovering that it is different from what I wanted when I arrived here in March. Of course this should be no surprise, time and circumstance change everything.

 Being a new face on the BA tango scene brought its own questions: would anyone dance with me, would my tango improve, would I secure dances with greater ease as time went on? Over my first months here I danced tango most nights, at many Milongas, with many partners. I felt driven to get out there and experience as much as possible. I also sought that illusive perfect tango connection. It’s true that it wasn’t always easy, there were nights when the dances didn’t come, or when I didn’t connect with anyone. But in a sense I knew what I had to do to gain experience, to further my mission to be a great tango dancer, and I did it.

Now, things have changed.

I have a tango boyfriend who I love to dance with. And he is the man with whom I found that first, perfect connection in Buenos Aires – La Glorieta, remember? When I am in his arms I relax, I play, I dance my own dance in reply to his. Our bodies hold intense conversations. The connection is strong. I feel that we are as one. We always laugh and smile together because we enjoy ourselves. I feel beautiful in his embrace. It is far easier for me to spend hours and hours dancing with him, than to dance single tandas with men I don’t know. Somehow, the desire to get out there alone and experience many different partners has faded.

So does it matter? I honestly don’t know. Naturally I watch others newer on the tango scene here than I, or people staying here a shorter time. They of course are out doing exactly what I did in the beginning. They are excited to secure many dance partners, experience variety, enjoy the thrill of dancing with the occasional professional. Thus I wonder if I should still be doing the same. Ah… paying attention to what other people are doing is never a good idea. I can start to doubt myself.

When I shift away from the ‘what should I be doing?’ thinking that is so dangerous for me, I remember that in the beginning as we sat, desperate to get dances at our first Milongas, Gabriella and I talked about how amazing it would be to have a regular dance partner: someone to work on things with, someone to learn with, someone to learn from. When I think about it, this is exactly what I have now. And the wonderful thing is that he wants to learn with me, dance with me and maybe even one day perform and teach with me…

Now I need to ask myself the simple question, ‘Why do I dance?’

I dance because I love to dance. I want to be a beautiful dancer. I want to feel like a beautiful dancer. When there is a strong connection between myself and my partner I know I have wings instead of feet. I don’t have to focus on tricky leads, jerky styles, think about what I am doing. I dance naturally, my body fluently speaks its own language, I feel like an angel. This is what I crave from my tango. And the reality is that for now, with one special man, I have found it. I believe that when I dance with him, I am a beautiful dancer.

So after a few days of struggling with my thinking I am celebrating tonight. I am on a journey of the heart now. My head has worked hard all my life to keep me from letting go and doing the things I truly love. But my heart got me out here to Argentina. Now I must keep listening to it. I need to stop thinking about what other people are doing and do only what feels right for me. As long as I am enjoying my dancing, I know that I will naturally improve, and that new doors will keep opening. I have three precious aspects to my tango journey right now, and each of them is only as important as I want to make them because in the end joy is what really counts.

  1. Ariel continues to teach me, and will continue to do so for as long as he wants to. With him I can concentrate on my technique, my ability to relax and follow anything that is led, expand my repertoire, grow my confidence. The choreography of La Cumparsita is completed and we will be working to perfect it in the large space we use on a Friday. We are also going to work on developing my dance within my tango. My body will learn to dance every second, even when there is silence or stillness in the lead.
  2. Outside of the classes I can continue my tango journey with my tango boyfriend. We will learn together and develop a stronger connection which will result in even more beautiful dancing, and who knows where the future may lead us.
  3. The more mysterious and anonymous side of tango is still there any night I want it. There is nothing to stop me heading out with the girls on nights when I feel like it, to dip into the world of the unknown tangueros who are waiting out there to dance just one tanda with me.

The truth is that I needed a friend back home in England to help me work through this thinking today. Sometimes only somebody on a tango journey can understand the dilemmas of  a fellow tango soul. Thank you dream dancer of Hampshire. I feel like I have woken up now. Tengo suerte! I have it all.

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4 Responses

  1. Yes. I believe I belong in the Category 3 on your list. *grin* So, do save a few tandas for me, eh?

    For me, my tango path appears similar to yours, Sally, albeit, yours is a much more intensive pace.

    Nonetheless, I strive to become an excellent leader. I do not believe I will be an Olympian-type of dancer like a Gustavo Naveira or Chicho Frumboli or Jorge Torres to name a few.

    But I hope that I may gain a level of grace and smoothness that any follower would love to dance with. I live to make my follower happy and comfortable in my embrace for an entire tanda…and if there is that magical tango connection…maybe a few more.

    Thus, I practice more than the regular once-a-week or two-classes a week tango leaders in my area.

    In the beginning, I’d go to two four-hour classes during the week, and practice for 5-6 hours on Saturday and Sundays by myself…watching myself in the mirror on the gym…re-reading my notes and practicing the techniques learned in class.

    Over time…after just celebrating my one-year anniversary in tango last September, followers started asking me if they could practice with me.

    …and so began a new era of experimenting with new followers on an individual basis…today, I have chosen 4-5 regular followers whom I practice with at least once and/or every other week with. Two of them, we practice for 5-6 hours just working on the moves and techniques.

    I believe it has advanced my tango a lot faster than I would have expected by having a regular partner whom you have good chemistry with and likes to practice.

    I tried like about 10 followers, but over time I have stuck with these 4 and one new beginning follower whom I see a lot of potential because she has great balance. Her (like most of them) I am actually able to teach them their steps, so that I can work on mine… it’s a good thing. Though sometimes, I wish, my follower, would be better me than so she can help me out… most of the time, I have to practice and then get in a dance with one of my teachers to check how my lead is. As I said earlier, I don’t do private lessons…only group lessons.

    At $90-$120US for a private lesson, I get a lot more bang for my buck taking a $50-$80 4-week group lesson and dancing one dance with the teacher each week to test my lead AND follow.

    Then, on a certain weekend, I will attend a milonga and see if I can lead it with a good follower whom I do not know to test myself and to continue improving my musicality.

    This weekend will be a wonderful test to see how good of a leader I have become by totally dancing with strangers, giving the cabaceo, and hoping to find really good dances as well as making new friends in the Seattle Tango community.

    Well, it’s time to complete my packing…it looks like I’m all caught up with you, Sally.

    When I return next week, I’ll need to find you pre-tango blog and see how all of this started.

    For now, I bid thee a good morning…off to bed.

    Hugs and smiles, “Sly” šŸ™‚

  2. Hi there Sal. Good to read you talking things through and deciding to go with that trusty heart of yours. It seems to lead you in the right direction, I would keep following it if I were you. Thanks Carlos and Shaun for love and support.
    Turning the volume down on the mental chatter and others’ views, shoulds/coulds, seems wise; although even if you went off heart course temporarily, I trust your true spirit would assert itself pretty soon!
    It is about a year since you returned from Mongolia with your long stripey poncho, hat and cowboy boots, spun with me on a playground roundabout in Sheringham, smoking and talking of adventures seen and possible futures…I felt excited and scared, the spirit of the fifteen year old Sal I knew, awakening from sleepy Hampshire and domesticity. What would you do if you really unleashed your imagination and creativity?
    You keep amazing me but the thread of spirited you has always been there, it will out!
    Keep enjoying the choices you have made! I am with you! xxx

  3. Jane’s comments seconded by me. We missed you this week as we bodyboarded and bicycled in not so sunny Norfolk but all were happy that you are happy and have taken control of your dancing feet … keep following where they lead you and you will be alright!

    Love you xxx

  4. The reality is that I am blessed with a family and friends that walk with me every step of the way, siempre. Someone once said to me that ‘closeness is not about distance’ and it is truer than ever for me now. I feel you guys close by every minute of every day. I am never alone in my heart. What ever happens on this great adventure, I will keep walking, knowing that you will be beside me… sc

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