I don't think this gentleman counts as a milonguero, he's a little on the young side - though he certainly had that look about it him - the suit, the shoes, the expression on his face - though I can't really explain that last thing. He was my first partner at my first milonga at a venue I'd never visited. I had been tapping my foot and swaying a bit to the music while waiting for my yerba mate at the bar (I don't remember the song now, but it's one I have at home so it was very familiar). So maybe I looked more advanced than the ultra-beginner that I am. Afterall, I've been listening to tango music for 6 years. I have a sense of that - I don't so much have a sense of moving my body and feet, coordinated with another person, and to the music.
The gentleman asks me to dance.
I explain I'm a very new to tango - a beginner.
He laughs and says, "so what, so am I!"
My turn to laugh (since I'd seen him at several milongas - enough to know better), "I think you're toying with me," said I.
To which he beams, and said, "I certainly hope so!"
More laughing on my part - now I'm so much more at ease. He leads me very gently, asking me who I'm studying with, I answer Monica & Gustavo, and Chuck. he nods, 'good, good.'
'How far have you studied?'
'Up to ochos. But I'm really not very good.'
'Oh good, well that's everything you need!'
While I'm answering his questions, I realize I'm turning, crossing - doing all those things I hadn't really coordinated in my mind yet. In the midst of realizing that, of course, I falter - hesitate. He stops for just a second to shift weight, making sure I'm with him again, and off we go.
After the first song, I thought for sure he must be regretting asking me to dance - so I was expecting a thank you and walk back to my chair. But when the music died down, he stayed where he was, said how much he liked the music they were playing tonight, how I should dance as much as I can to it. And then, the next song started - he clasped my hand, closed his eyes for a moment while we shifted weight - and we were off again. Wow. I get two dances?
While I was wow-ing to myself, I started giggling a bit. To which he made a funny remark that I can't remember at the moment -and I told him if he kept making me laugh I wouldn't be able to dance. To which he answered - 'if you laugh, you won't think so much. You can relax.' More turning, crossing, walking, side stepping - this is the greatest.thing.ever.
The music stops again, but he doesn't let go of my hand. He's waiting. He listens to check if there is another song coming or if that's the end of the tanda. It is the end. After he thanks me, bows slightly, walks me toward the side of the dance floor, only then does he let go of my hand.
I thank him for his patience and for such a wonderful dance.
For him, maybe it his tango civic duty to dance with beginners and make them feel welcome, even graceful - but it's the leaders like him that keep me in the game of tango. (Well, that and the loads of people online and off that keep encouraging me to get my butt out there.)