tango singers making tango face
Oh Flavio. I'm glad it was you. You were commanding yet gentle; firm but kind. I was afraid but you showed me what to do. We had a moment you and I. We laughed. We cried. Well, I cried on the inside anyway for my disastrous amateur tango. Yes, tango. What did you think I was talking about?
The milonga was not quite what I had pictured. I had been lead to believe that it would be full of older, mercifully slow-moving, heavily aftershaved men who would communicate via some subtle code of lingering glances and eyebrow raises. But in fact, the milonga that Nina and I ventured out to last night was full of attractive, hip looking young people who were all gliding around the floor like they'd come out of the womb doing the tango.
Up until then I'd been feeling pretty good about my progress in tango. I had killed it in class that afternoon; I was nailing my ochos, my camina was on point. I had taken a private lesson earlier in the week and I was able to follow the instructor perfectly. I kept glancing at myself in the mirrors and thinking 'hey! Look at that- I'm totally doing the tango!' 'Muy bien!' my instructors said, 'you must do other dances as well'. 'Why yes,' I said, 'I salsa,' and I beamed.
All that misplaced confidence lasted about five seconds once I did get asked to dance last night. Some tall, rather handsome porteno came over to ask me and I was so nervous that I was shaking a little bit. I danced with my eyes closed not so that I could feel the music but so I wouldn't have to see the snickers I was imagining on the faces of the many, many people watching. When you dance with someone in a milonga, you stay with them for four songs. Four songs! Do you know how long that is? What a commitment that is? Poor Flavio. But he was so nice, 'you have the idea' he said. The idea maybe; the steps, the posture and the rhythm not so much.
He graciously stayed with me for all four songs and then returned me to my seat. 'Was it as bad as I thought?' I asked Nina. 'I thought you looked pretty good for a beginner.' Reader, she was being kind. By 'good' I'm pretty sure she meant 'you didn't actually fall down, there's that.' Then a little while later, like a gift from God a set of salsa music came on. Flavio came to collect me and we tore up the mostly empty dance floor. I felt a little bit redeemed in the eyes of the crowd who had just watched me stumble through the world's most awkward tango; I'm also pretty sure I might've flashed them a couple of times since I was not wearing a dress appropriate for salsa but I'm at peace with that.
The important thing is that I have now danced the tango in an Argentine milonga and I had a blast. Watching the other dancers gave me a lot to aspire to.
Tell me about your first time.