When I had only been dancing a few months, I attended two milongas at Fiesta de Tango, held at Austin's Omni South Hotel. It was a beautiful affair. The music was wonderful and the events were well attended. I was told it would be a great opportunity to dance with new people and how exciting that would be. When I got there, all I could do was look for familiar faces. Back then, there weren't too many. I danced with a few people, tried to mingle a bit, watched the performances - but mostly I was too nervous to relax and enjoy myself. Everything felt too big - the floor, the crowd. Too overwhelming. It made me miss my regular weekend milongas. I felt homesick for familiar surroundings and familiar people.
This time, ten months into my tango life, I expected to have an easier time at Fandango de Tango, held by the same organizer, Ricardo Moncada (Learn to Dance Austin) at the same venue. When I walked in with my friend, I immediately looked for familiar faces. I was nervous already. Crowds of people I didn't know. Finally I was able to pick out dancers I knew, especially comforting were the faces of those tangueros I look for at every milonga - my "security blanket" leaders who make me feel treasured and secure on the milonga floor. I actually felt my shoulders relax a little bit.
I danced more this time. Mingled more. Met (and danced with) new people. I was especially excited to dance with a tanguero from California that I hadn't even known would be attending. It was pure luck that he asked me to dance and I recognized him from his picture online. Tango is a smaller and smaller world. Even though this time was easier than the last festival - I still couldn't relax. I forgot everything. I couldn't keep my posture in check. I couldn't keep my shoulders from tightening and pulling me away from my partner. My heels kept catching on the seams on the temporary dance floor. There were so many wonderful things in the evening - dancing to favorite songs with favorite partners - but I still felt home sick. Anxious. Self-conscious.
I'm glad I went, even though the price was steep - $45 for one milonga! The performances were beautiful. I especially loved watching Nito & Elba and Facundo & Christy. Both of those couples exemplified the kind of tango I love to see and want to dance. Graceful, musical, connected, gorgeous. Most of the other performances were beautiful too, of course - very acrobatic, athletic, dramatic - but more like watching modern dance than tango. Beautiful, but not the same. I paid the entrance fee last night mostly to see Nito and Elba and their performances were worth every penny. Watching Facundo & Christy tear up the floor for a fantastic milonga was a wonderful bonus. I wasn't at all familiar with their dancing before this and I was just awed by their talent.
The next festival for me is Austin Spring Tango Festival in March. It's being held at Dance Institute, very familiar territory at least. By then maybe I'll be more confident or at least less self-conscious. Meanwhile, I can hardly wait until Tuesday's regular milonga at Texas French Bread - cozy and relaxed.
(Thank you so much, Eduardo, for the picture and the dances!)