Monday, May 16, 2016

The “Romance” in ArgentineTango.

I had three wonderful short dances a few nights ago before the screening of a new Argentine Tango film. 
The venue was very small, just room enough for two dancers on the floor at a time. Rather like dancing in a very long bathtub!

Everyone was elegantly dressed and happy! Those who arrived early were chatting by the door.

(Most at the door were the more experienced dancers from the host city.)  Late comers and out of town guests moved toward the back of the hall. 

The best part of that Milonga for me was talking with old dance friends, being surprised by who was there, meeting new friends and practicing my Spanish. 

All seemed Art Deco and perfect. Friends, new and old and I watched as different couples had a dance. As the Milonga was only to last an an hour and a half, and everyone wanted a least one dance, we were dancing one dance a couple. Of course i was wondering if I might have a turn on the floor.

I had my first dance with the host who waved and pointed at me across the crowded room. I pointed and myself - got the nod - and we had a lovely little Tango. 

(For those new to Argentine Tango - a Tango song is about 3 minutes long. In general, when asked to dance, you dance three dances with each partner, but there are always exceptions! ) 

My leader was very experienced and charming and he tried to dance with most all the women at the gathering. I was glad to be asked. However, it was nice to see my friends dancing as well. A new dancer came with me, and she really enjoyed watching how we dance, the steps and pivots, as well as the turns.

I was very happy that I had two more single song dances that night. For the first I struck up a conversation with a leader I had met at a class in St. A. He is new to the dance. I felt new my first year, and remembered my own feelings of being an outsider. Noticing he had been sitting alone for awhile, I asked him “Aren’t you dancing tonight?”.

I don’t recall his exact words, but I remember he minimized his skills, and informed me he was a beginner. I am always happy to dance, beginner or not. 

Sometimes I offer my truth which of late has been:  “I have been dancing with the wall a good deal.” before heading onto the floor. I am not making excuses for my ability - just giving fair warning. 

I have no idea if we were brilliant or bumbling - although I am sure we danced somewhere in between. 
My pleasure was the connection of Tango  - of knowing where to go, how fast, how far…. and feeling very lead by my partner. 

In fact, if a know the very experienced leaders from other Milongas, and they are welcoming and friendly, I will accept an invitation to dance. I too offer the “new dancer” disclaimer!  

A gracious leader doesn’t care how long you have been dancing - they want to share the song, the feeling of the dance, help you improve your Tango while sharing that special energetic connection of making art to music.

It was easy to relate to his comment/disclaimer, so I shared that I was open to a nice walk if he would like to dance. When I dance lead - my truth at present is that I can offer a nice walk - perhaps a few rock steps, maybe an ocho here and there, but I am a beginning lead and also feel as if I don’t have much to offer - except the joy of sharing the music.

So, we accepted each others invitations to Tango, and I am so glad we did. His posture was perfect, and his embrace provided that “connection” that makes all the steps unimportant. 

The embrace can be such a special communication. Without that, all the fancy steps I can do feel hollow to me. I would rather a connected walk around the floor than a Tango filled with planeos, and barridas. At songs end we each returned to our barstools to watch other Tangos. 

I was very happy to see another Tango friend, from Argentina! She arrived late for the dancing but in good time  for the film. She is such a bright personality, so encouraging of my Spanish - and willing to help me have conversations with others that I almost forgot about dancing.

She had found a new pair of shoes, and showed them to me. I thought they were indeed a good find, perhaps a subtle cue that she was prepared to dance? We talked a while, I was reintroduced to a dancer I met on Facebook. She also spoke Spanish and the three of us had a fine time. 

As the house lights flickered for the first time - I asked my Argentine friend if she would care to have a bit of a dance. It was a favor to me to practice leading - and as people were going for their seats, we had some room, not much of an audience, and therefore a dance. 

I think I was in stilettos and she in wedges, but the connection was immediate. She was a brilliant follower, loved the song as I did, and even thought we may have only had a few minutes of dancing, she was very happy.

I was very happy because we were able to share so much in those moments. The connection of Tango! I think she may have been surprised to find that she was a very good follower (or that I was such an awkward leader) but we had fun.

Tomorrow I will be hostess to an open floor for Argentine Tango. I will offer an Argentine Tango basics class to new dancers. (I am sure I have attended at least 30 of beginners classes with some very fine teachers, some World Class teachers  and know I am able to share what I have learned.) 

I will warm up, perhaps find a new balance exercise and hope to offer everyone the best time possible. We are to practice a new step - the ocho cortado. (Wish me luck!! ) 


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