When I finally decided, after a few months (okay, years) of deliberation, to take up tango - I couldn't find a single person to go with me. My husband, my friends, and coworkers all gave me various forms of the polite "no, thank you." So when I entered the world of Argentine tango, I entered essentially alone.
Though the prospect caused a significant amount of anxiety, I eventually found it to be exhilarating. This was completely mine. I would have to conquer my fears on my own. There is power in that ... an energy. There is more to it though, even than the feeling of self-sufficiency that's gained. No one knew me in the tango community. I could enter this new world of people, connections, friends, without a preconceived notion of who I was, without the undesirable baggage of my past. Work stresses, financial worries, fretting about my dogs/cat/house/laundry/phone bill - whatever... left at the door. It felt like a vacation from my life.
On that level, the classes/practicas/milongas were a relief. A time to let go of everything else and be in the moment. No past, no future - just right now. This partner, this music, this floor. Nothing else. I'd go home feeling lighter, calmer, yet energized. Sometimes elated - floating through the door, without a thought to my sore feet, tired back, and ever more common lack of sleep.
Soon, however, I started to feel something else. A greater and greater divide between my tango life and the rest of my life. My husband, family and friends, who would all patiently wait for me to "get back" to my life on the outside. The divide caused a feeling of emotional drift. While I'm at home/work/grocery store/bank/dinner/whatever - I'm missing tango, a lot. And while I'm in my tango time, I find myself wishing I could share the experience with my husband, my friends and my family. I think this is what makes me such a tango-vangelist. A selfish desire to share the experience of connection and music with those closest to me.
For almost 5 months I've been maintaining two almost separate lives - my tango life, and my everything-and-everyone-else life. Starting this month however, things are going to change. People from my non-tango life will be crossing over into the tango world. I can only hope that it will have the kind of effect on them that it has had on me.
At the thought of my tango world finally being populated with people from my non-tango life, something else has happened. From my perspective, because it's doubtful anyone will notice the slightest thing, I will have a past. I will have presuppositions, assumptions, another identity superimposed on me-as-tango-dancer. For the first time, I will have to be all-of-me, present with all of the things that means to the people who know me outside. No separate compartments hidden away on either side of the line.
Then there's the other side of the coin. . .
I've already had a coworker catch a glimpse of me during a practica. She said she didn't know me at first - it took her several minutes to place me. I know I look different when I dance. I couldn't feel so different without at least some of that showing on the outside. When the self-conscious/doubting/apologizing self (that artifact from the outside world) finally drops away - I feel like a different person. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I don't even recognize the image. I wish I could be her all of the time. My milonga self. I wonder, will they accept her, milonga-me? Will they question the transition? Analyze it? Or will they see the possibilities.
How long before I see the milonga-person in these friends from the "outside?"
I can hardly wait.