Thursday, July 28, 2016

Argentine Tango! Those Blue Moon Moments.

I have learned that opening a dance floor for Argentine Tango requires determination, a willingness to dance with the wall, or to work solo on balance, pivots, and adornos in a mirrored hall. There are indeed evenings when no one is able to come dance Tango. 

This year I feel so fortunate to have found a dance floor within walking distance from my home. As well, I am able to afford to the rent, and so I may practice Argentine Tango every Tuesday from 8 pm - 9 pm. Of course I don’t want to dance alone. 

As this new venue is a proper dance hall, has off street parking, and is easy to find, more and more dancers are coming out to experience Argentine Tango.  This Tuesday three dancers who have danced on this floor before came to practice, there was one first time dancer, one dancer who has a few years experience in Argentine Tango.

The Blue Moon Moment? This Tuesday a very experienced leader came to the Open Floor as he was in need of Argentine Tango. (I understand this need very well!)  

I offered him the floor and asked if he would he care to teach. He politely declined and left me to it. Every week, as so many are new to this style of Tango, some having their very first encounter,  I offer an introduction to the basics of the dance. 

I discuss the “Four Relationships”, the one-footed principle, and this week, at the moment of my introducing the ‘one footed nature,’ to my great delight, our experienced dancer asked to participate with me, and help me show the importance of ‘one footedness.’

It was wonderful. He explained the importance of being one footed, and I partnered his explanation. So, those present were able to hear and to see Argentine Tango in process. The why of ‘one footedness’ was immediately apparent. 

Our visiting leader showed forward and backwards walking steps, the pivots, ochos and pauses while sharing his passion for the dance, and for the non verbal relationship which can indeed be the “passion” of Argentine Tango particularly when danced by a man & a woman.  

All this was wonderful to hear. Clearly, our visitor came from a culture where men dance. It was hard for him to believe that he was looking at the only open floor Argentine Tango group meeting in what is geographically the largest city in the United States. 

Further, when he realized that I danced the role of leader more often than I follow, he was incredulous. Ever the gentleman he finished his explanation and returned me the class. 

All who came to listen had an introduction (or review) of the importance of “shift weight in place”, the side step, the forward and backward walk with the emphasis one allowing your partner a place to step. After steps and practices in front of the mirror, we chose partners and danced. 

Those who have had several lessons partnered with those who had never danced. Our visiting dancer (I hope he returns!) danced with everyone. 

Now - some people comment that those who dance Argentine Tango are “snobbish” about the dance. I have not had this experience very often.  

I have been to one milonga where, after a two hour drive to attend, and after dancing with everyone in the one hour class, I sat the wallflower for two hours hoping for a dance. I had one tanda. I did not feel welcomed, and so I haven’t hurried back. 

I will try again another time of course.  Every group can have an off night, every teacher an off day. If we are kind and remember that we are on a journey together - I feel sure the journey will be joyful. 

As I type now, I remember the kindness shown me by experienced leaders, and experienced followers who gave me vital tips. In fact, most all the people I have met have been very, very kind indeed. 

To return to the evening, as the class time was ending, I asked our visitor if I might have a dance. I put my “girl shoes” on (I dance lead in a jazz shoe now) and was very happy to accept his instruction as how best to embrace. 

I am 5’2’’ barefoot and 5’6” in a stiletto. I am short anyway you shake it, and he was taller than I. However, as an experienced dancer, his advice on how best to embrace was impeccable.  So we danced. 

I can’t tell you the song, but I can tell you that I experienced the delight of the union, the passion and the magic that happens when one surrenders to the dance itself. I have not had a good dance for awhile now, and to be invited to gaucho, to molinette, to offer adornos, to move across the floor in the embrace of a skilled Tanguero was a pleasure indeed. I was glowing. 

Sadly no one caught the moment on video….. but I wil remember that dance for as long as my memory endures.  I have no idea if I missed a step, should have offered a boleo here or there, I was lost in the moment of this dance.

If you care to join us we dance every Tuesday at  SDS Performance Arts Center located at 5049 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville, Florida 32205. We dance from 8 PM - 9 PM. 

There is a $10 Floor Fee to help pay rent, cover costs, purchase supplies, and one day in the not to distant future, host a milonga! 

Visit us on Facebook to see all sorts of useful videos, and to stay up to date with Argentine Tango dances in Florida.

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