Tango birthday: 1 year on

IMGP7043 On 3rd October last year I took my first tango lesson in Southampton, England. I ‘danced’ my first tango in the practica afterwards and my life changed for ever. Back then I lived in the English countryside, gardened a lot and could only speak one language. Now I live in a 10th floor studio looking out over Buenos Aires skyscrapers, haven’t bought any plants for the balcony yet, and could probably have a bash at writing this post in Spanish.

I can remember that lesson as if it was yesterday: I didn’t have any dance shoes, and the only shoes I owned with smooth soles were cowboy boots – so I wore them; I struggled to walk backwards without toppling over; I longed to be able to dance like the guys in the advanced class. The longing got me to Buenos Aires and by a degree of chance – I like to think of it as good fortune – into the tango embrace of my teacher Ariel. We have been dancing together for seven months now, three times a week and today we danced for my camera yet again. I wanted to record my dancing, at the one year mark.

Video days are never easy. Today the weather was not kind. I got soaked on the way. My friends, with the camera, couldn’t find a taxi and so arrived at the moment when we were ending the class. I managed to negotiate with the receptionist for fifteen more minutes in the room, but we were all a bit flustered. Perhaps this was a good thing. My stomach had let go of its butterflies half an hour before, my mind was no longer expecting to be filmed, there was no time to get nervous. We just danced.

There are two new videos here. The first is of a choreographed tango, ‘La Cumparsita’. The second is an improvised tango. You decide for yourselves how I am doing ‘one year on’. And just incase you want to check if I have made progress I am going to include links back to the posts I wrote and the videos we made at 4 weeks, 8 weeks and 16 weeks.

The essence of tango for me is in the feeling in the moment that I dance, in the connection with my partner, in the joy of  my spirit’s expression. The thrilling highs and possibly the most beautiful dancing come when I least expect them. Perhaps you will not ever see my greatest moments in any of my videos. Having a camera in the room steals something from my soul. But I make the videos as a diary of my adventure: so that I can watch how I change; to inspire and motivate me to keep learning; because it is fun. I share the videos with you so that you can see what is it possible for an average person to achieve over time.

So these mark seven months in BA, and one year dancing. Enjoy!

See me and Ariel dance to La Cumparsita

See me and Ariel dance an improvised tango

And my past tangos in words and on film…

See my dancing after 4 weeks in Buenos Aires

See my dancing after 8 weeks in Buenos Aires

See my dancing after 16 weeks in Buenos Aires

Update: And I’ve got the winning feeling today because England have just managed to pull a victory out of the bag against Australia in the Rugby Mundial! I loved this comment on the BBC Commentary at 78 minutes with two minutes to go…

78 mins: “Chorus after chorus of Swing Low rings out – mainly to stop everyone from vomiting with nerves.”
BBC Sport’s Tom Fordyce in Marseille

England survive to fight another day! ROCK ON!


23 Responses

  1. dear sally,

    happy one year anniversary! you look amazing in those videos!! and i am so glad to see you glowing in your pictures.


  2. What?! No acrobatics?! I like what you’ve done together with the arrangement of La Cumparsita, it fits very nicely.

    You’re more than good enough to justify a little smile or other sign that you’re enjoying yourself while you’re dancing. That is unless you belong to the school of thought that tango is serious, i.e. unhappy.

    I think that should be your next big goal – finding a way to dance past the cameras like they’re not there. After that, nothing else will ever put you off your tango, not lightning strikes, fire alarms nor legendary milongueros.

    Thanks for sharing your videos with us, it’s like timelapse footage of a growing tree.

  3. Oh, and for the record, I’ve still not figured out how to ignore the recording device, after 16 years playing piano, so I know it’s not easy.

  4. Congratulations, Sally, the videos are lovely!
    I always prefer improvised tango, but I enjoyed both of your dances.
    You have lovely feet, good for you!
    I kinda agree with Kieron that all you need is to dance with your face as well as your body. Maybe not always look at Ariel??
    Your progress after only a year is amazing!

  5. Kieron & Cherie
    Yes I think especially when the camera is on I get shy, and it feels more secure to look at Ariel. I am not one of life’s natural performers I know. And I am concentrating so hard that I forget to smile. One day I hope that my face will project the joy that I feel inside. After your comments I am gonna be thinking about this. SC

  6. Hello there sallycat – I’ve been following your adventures from Sweden for a while. Congrats on your one-year anniversary! Your stories are very inspiring indeed, so much that reading your blogg has been decicive in my taking up tango-lessons again. Was my first-again time yesterday, but must say I feel a bit discouraged, so much to learn and so much stiff body to conquer 🙂 Going back for a 2 hour practica today. Perhaps the only way though is to get oneself a teacher like you have in Buenos A. Thanks for keeping such a lovely blogg! I love the pics too! All my best, Ann

  7. Ann – I am delighted that you like the blog and that you are taking up tango lessons again. I have days when in my class I feel stiff and that I have learned nothing since I got here… but usually these days come just before a day when I feel as if I dance like an angel! May your angel day be coming soon.
    Besos to you and to Sweden from Buenos Aires! SC

  8. Thanks, it did feel a bit better at today’s practica!
    Besos y saludos desde Estocolmo, Ann.

  9. Sally, I don’t think you need to “smile” more, just make your face more alive, more expression, less “deer in the headlights.”
    I hope you don’t mind all of us critiqing you in this way. It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there in public and to encourage responses to your work. You go girl!

  10. You look excellent in both the videos Sally – I LOVE the move you do at the end of La Cumparsita – I’ve rewound it several times to watch just that bit!

  11. Cherie – no I don’t mind because I would always rather hear the truth from anyone, and I understand what you mean. I appreciate the fact that people I have never even met, and who have been dancing a lot longer than me, take the time to watch me and give their opinion. It is all part of the adventure. May I always be willing to listen and learn. SC

  12. Happy birthday! And many happy returns.

    I had my first tango birthday in May, and it meant a huge amount to me. My tango friends all thought I was crazy (except for my teacher, bless him) but they all came out and celebrated with me anyway. It was one of the very best nights of my tango life to date. I hope your day was just as fantastic!

    Your dancing is looking really good: simultaneously expressive and elegantly relaxed. You have lovely feet. Plus, you’re looking really stylish. Love those shoes.

  13. Bet you were smiling at the end of La Cumparsita, as you should have been! As your sister I can see that you were smiling a bit, usually as you accomplished what look to this tango-ignorant person the tricky bits. But we all know that your smile and face can be electric – just add that to the electricity already there in the skill of your body and the embrace with Ariel, and you are flying even higher! But Sal this is fantastic – thanks for sharing it with us all.


  14. Happy Anniversary 🙂

    And Wow! I admire your courage to put a video of yourself out there like that. After almost five years, I still just can’t do it – even though I feel good about my dancing. I’m really really glad you’re willing to do so – it’s fun watching your progress and your feet are beautiful 🙂 Nice shoes by the way!

  15. Thanks to all for such encouraging comments. It is great to get feed back of any kind to help me on my way. And I am happy you like the shoes! Haven’t allowed myself a new pair for months, but my trusty black patents have stretched with over use and these new ones are the exact same style but ‘rocket red’! A trip to Comme last week with my English visitors, one look at these and my hand was in my pocket. One indulgence I could not resist… SC

  16. Dear Sally,

    Happy Anniversary to you!

    What an amazing story you’ve had and shared with the world, and what a wonderful inspiration you are to many people. Your dancing is lovely and I’ll look forward to hearing about many more anniversaries to come.

    Good for you for following your heart!

  17. Hey Sally ! Happy anniversary !! I would be so nervous if I know I am being filmed, even if it´s for me ! Well done. Keep on tangoing !!

  18. Dear Sally,

    I have enjoyed your videos very much. I think you already started as a very nice, elegant and smooth dancer, and I can only imagine how happy you are to have testimony of your progress in these nice pieces! I agree with Cherie in that you have lovely feet–really cool, sharp adornments (and not overdone… the sin of many). Looking forward for more. 😉

    Cheers from here!


  19. Congratulations Sally!
    You are moving like a Porteña. You have found a freedom of expression with your feet and legs that is beautiful to watch in both dances and I look forward to dancing with you again some day. Tango is a journey of mind, body and spirit, and to dance as you are shows all three are in sync – a fantabulous achievement for 12 months work.

    Hold that thought and don’t let the following diminish what you have achieved.

    Thinking about the mind/body/spirit – previous comments about smiling etc may be due to body (slight stiffness in the neck or shoulders) and/or spirit (belief in yourself).

    ¡Que lindas piernas chica!

  20. Steve, what a joy it is to get your feedback. Such a lovely comment from one of my past teachers means so much. It really does.
    Do you remember when we danced that crazy ‘non tango’ at the end of the Tango Tangk back in February? I have a video of that but don’t think I will put it on You Tube!

    I actually love what you write about the mind/body/spirit. I think that you are spot on with what you say. And it has given me food for thought. I look forward to dancing with you again. Yes I do! SC

  21. I want to say thanks to everyone who has left me such encouraging comments on this post. That you have taken the time to watch me dance is a source of joy for me. That you like my feet has brought a big smile to my face. I am just gonna keep right on dancing!!! SC

  22. Sallycat! I just visited your blog for the first time and took a look at your tango videos… you are such a beautiful dancer! Wow… you’ve only been dancing a year? That’s crazy. I’ve been dancing almost as long and I’m nowhere close to where you are 😦

    Congratulations on the 1 year anniversary…


  23. Thank you Coleen for your encouraging words, and for taking a look at the blog and the videos. You have put an extra zing into my Buenos Aires Sunday morning! SC

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