"What a terrible, beautiful limbo we're in, this intimate and temporary time, glimmering between Before and After." D.G. Fulford
Tango has confused and confounded my body. The music can be so bitter, so sad, despairing - yet I often leave the dance floor elated. Dancing, any dancing, makes me laugh. Not light, tinkling (dignified) giggles, but breathless, blushing, belly laughs from the core of my body. As far as I know, I have always had that reaction. In drill team, jazz, ballet - it was always the same. Keeping a serious face was impossible for any length of time. Even when the music was slow and sad, moving my body to music felt ecstatic.
And now there is tango.
There is a leader that, for some reason I cannot understand, makes me positively gleeful when we dance. I often laugh so much that it's hard for me to follow smoothly, but bless his enormously generous heart, he just keeps going laughing with me and hugging me like the I'm the most important person he knows. For 10 minutes. Then the music stops and we wipe the tears from our eyes and part ways, catching our breath.
In the midst of the upheaval in my life right now, that carnival ride of a dance is what I need sometimes.
But laughter, I know for me, is also a mask. It lessens my anxiety, gives me a little breathing room - and conceals what I'm not ready to share on the surface. Sometimes, like anyone else, I laugh to keep from crying. From seeing the enormity of the challenges around me. And sometimes I do both. What do you call it when you're laughing and crying, ecstatic, yet sad? So happy that I cry - so sad, that I laugh at the absurdity of it.
What is that, besides overwhelming?
In this limbo - in this place where all I can see is how unprepared I am - is tango. What does it say about me that there are times when only this music can reach me?
The beauty of dancing to tango music is that it allows for such a huge range of emotion. When I listen to an upbeat, almost cheerful tango, with incredibly sad lyrics - I feel a kind of belonging. A satisfaction. I feel understood. When the bandoneon weeps, but the piano seems to sing almost happily in the background, I feel relieved - not that there is a component of levity in a sad song, but because the full spectrum is there, in the music - ready to speak to whatever I need at the moment. Maybe that's why it's so easy to find one's story in tango music. There is simply so much story to find.
(Image courtesy of Morguefile.com. )