I missed commemorating my 6 month anniversary in tango ... and next week will mark my 7th. Baby steps. I almost hate telling people that it's been 7 months. I feel like I should be so much better by now. In the beginning I didn't know the things I was doing wrong, the lack of grounded technique, questionable musicality etc. I was happy to be dancing at all. My expectations were that low. Goal for the day: don't fall down.
Now I'm aware of too much all . the . time . Pulling my shoulder blades back (hence pulling away from my partner and pulling him forward, decreasing our stability.) Landing on the outside edge of my foot. Wobbly giros. The list goes on and on. It runs through my head constantly when I'm dancing - lower your shoulders, turn your foot out, maintain your axis, pull in your tummy, push down through the floor, direct your energy up, stay with the music . . .
and relax . . .
and breathe . . .
I have to breathe and relax too? Maybe you'd like me to knit an sweater for you while I'm at it.
Tango kicks my ass.
In a way the constant struggle with my own dance made me look for "tango bliss" outside myself - outside of my interpretation of what I'm supposed to be doing. My community is always good for a reality check. So now I spend more time connecting with other people, trying to meet the ones I haven't met yet. Of course there's the usual tango-vangilism I'm frequently guilty of. I'm a tango-pusher. What Pat calls doing "tango missionary work." And I spend more time watching now instead of constantly scanning the room for a cabeceo. I have a better understanding of certain things now.
Things like . . .
Why some leaders wait until the music starts before they chose someone to invite to dance. Choosing your partner based on how you dance together for a particular type of music makes so much sense to me now. I "knew" it before - but now I understand it. It's not as personal as it sounds actually - or at least I don't take it personally, like I did before. For example, during milongas, if my partner's dance is very heavy on side-steps and traspies (I'm talking about 70-80% of the dance) - I'm not your girl. I don't have the strength and the stamina through my hips and quads to maintain the tempo for 3 or 4 songs. I'll get slower and further behind the music. I can feel it. That's just where I am in my dance right now. There are other followers who seem to have endless stamina for traspie-heavy milongas and look absolutely beautiful doing it.
If tango kicks my ass, milonga just wipes the floor with me.
Vals on the other hand . . . I've had two months of classes on vals (which is the tiniest drop in the bucket of vals education) and that has served mostly to create a secondary tango addiction. I can't spend my dance constantly questioning my ability because I'm too busy grinning and laughing and thinking, "oh-my-god-this-is-the-most-wonderful-thing-ever!!"
Other things came as a complete shock. My 2 favorite milongas are on the smallest, most crowded dance floors. One of my new favorite places to dance, Texas French Bread, has a challenging floor which could have resulted in frustrating, stressful dances but instead led to people laughing, improvising and relaxing. We could let go of trying to make every dance perfect. As one dancer said last night, tango was never about perfection. The sooner we put that impossible horizon to bed, the better for our dance. Hell, the better for our lives.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, 7 months...
Still a baby. Still a total tango n00b.
Seven months ago, if anyone would have told me that I would love being on a hot, crazy-crowded dance floor, buttons-to-buttons with men I met for the first time 5 minutes ago - I would have told them they were delusional. That I would make my plans around the milonga schedule. That I would get a little bit sad when there are no tango people on my "online (chat) list" on Facebook. (Okay that's the intersection of tango dancer and geek right there.)
So there I am. Seven month old tanguera.