1. Being the least experienced dancer in class. (I missed the 1st two classes.) check.
2. Being the last person picked as a partner (in the same class as above. No one wanted to dance with the absolute beginner.) check.
3. Being the worst dancer at a milonga. The mix is different at every milonga. Sometimes there are other beginners (from your class for example) and sometimes you're the only beginner there. That was this past Friday night, actually. Very rough. check.
4. Being dropped after the 1st song in a tanda because you can't keep up with the leader. check.
5. Being dropped after the 2nd song in a tanda because you can't keep up with the leader. (Does that mean I'm getting better?) check.
6. Going to milongas by myself - which is every time. It's nerve-racking each time it's a new venue, and then I'm over it. check.
If I'd known in advance that I'd go through all of those (except no. 6 which I already knew) - I would probably never have started - which would be a shame. Because despite all of the above, I would never give this up. For every scary, awkward thing I go through - there are 10 wonderful things that happen around it.
The other thing I keep reminding myself of is that my doctor told me that this, dancing tango on a regular basis, might be too much for me to hope for. When I tried to continue dancing (in other forms) I was ending up in too much pain. She thought partnered forms of dancing would be no different. That I can get out on the milonga floor and do this at all is an achievement for me. That I go home elated and not in pain, even after a less than thrilling performance at the milonga, is a small miracle.
So I go out and do my very best - give as much as I can for as long as I can. I am almost always rewarded 100 times over for my effort. So here are a few of the most rewarding things in tango - to balance out that first list (obviously this is from a follower's perspective):
1. Connection. To your partner. To the music. To the floor. To the other dancers moving as one group around the floor. Connection to that part of yourself that's feeling, dreaming, breathing, sighing, swaying - to tango. check.
2. Experiencing learning/grasping/internalizing the lessons of tango with another beginner partner. Learning something on your own, at your pace, is rewarding of course. But learning at the same time with another person that you're connected to - when you both "get it" finally. It's fantastic. check.
3. Letting go and allowing yourself to be led, really led - not anticipating, not fretting - just dancing. In the beginning those moments are few and brief - but they make it all worth it. check.
4. Feeling the music through your partner - not just hearing it in the background. check.
5. Noticing that the pain I was feeling when I came in, is diminished, or gone completely. check.
6. Feeling a leader (of any level) take time and effort to feel where you are (not just physically, but where you are in your experience, where your comfort is) - it's serious effort for a leader to do this -to take time through moving and leading to gauge your responses and to make you feel more graceful as a result. check.