Thursday, January 20, 2011


The Tango doesn't exactly look easy but it can look simple in some ways to a novice's eye. The dancers can appear to not be doing very much at times. I'm used to dancing salsa which involves constant movement. There is none of this in tango, the back is always straight and any movement above the waist must be subtle and precise as anything. All dances need good communication between partners but none as much as tango.

My dance classes here are a mix of people typical to what I see in the US, that is to say a group of people who would not likely be found in a room together for any other reason. I love to speculate about what brings people to join these classes, are they trying to breath life back into a marriage? Meet someone? Get some exercise? Did they OD on Dancing with the Stars? Or do they just have a list of things they always wanted to do and this happens to be the moment. So in this way my classes have a comfortable familiarity; the students are all ages, all nationalities with all kinds of different lives outside of the classroom. There are still those men I know well by now, the ones who have NO idea what they're doing but don't hesitate to instruct you or let you know when they think you've made a mistake.

Even though I have had to break myself a little bit of some of my salsa training, having some dance training at all is incredibly helpful. Both Tango and Salsa can be said to be sexy dances but in exactly opposite ways. Salsa is cheerful and quick, a dance of happiness and parties; the connection is light and flirtatious--kind of like the best first date ever. Tango is a dance full of longing and romantic desperation; a dance of people who have either missed their chance to be together or know they will never get one at all. You don't know the meaning of dancing together 'as one' until you've done tango; you must be close enough to the man to know what he will do before he does it. Salsa is like a public makeout in the street between two people too enamored of each other to care and Tango is an embrace in a dark alley between two people who are being separated by forces beyond their control; a dance of mistresses (well, originally of prostitutes).

I admit that I don't like to be a novice at anything. It's why I don't dabble in things, I either plunge in or give it up right away. Tonight Nina and I are going to the milonga for the first time. I'm terrified naturally but I have to stop and ask myself of what am I terrified exactly? Of looking stupid? Am I really afraid of that? It is the same with speaking spanish, am I afraid I won't be understood? That I will say something stupid or offensive?

And if I'm not here to face these fears than why AM I here?

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