Austin Spring Tango Festival - Higher Highs

Picture courtesy of Morgue File Stock Photos


Another Austin Spring Tango Festival has passed - my third year.  Feet, ankles, knees are all swollen. I slept for 10+ hours last night, and I'm still exhausted. I didn't have the stamina I had hoped for - but I had enough to enjoy some absolutely, heartbreakingly beautiful dances.  Old friends, and men I had only just met, held me with such warmth and tenderness, I felt like I was floating every night.

This was the first festival I attended that I really knew who I was - as a dancer, as a woman. I was comfortable in my own skin, not trying to mimic a teacher, or any other dancer. I learned so much - not in classes, but within the embraces of the men who held me, and in conversations - at the milongas, at practica, in hallways and in my kitchen at 5 in the morning. At Whataburger at 4:30 am, talking about tango in the deep, meaningful, silly ways one is prone to talking at that time of morning. I learned so much I'm having a hard time even sorting through all of it.

There was a kind of pressure - self-imposed as always, to be the woman that I write I am. To walk the walk I talk in this blog. To bring my heart, body and soul to every dance. To embrace my leader with the feeling that he is the most important person in the world while he is in my arms - because he is. He should be . .   at least one tanda at a time.

To my surprise and immeasurable gratitude, I was held that way in return. By men who knew me from the beginning of my dancing life, to men who had never met me. I needed to know it was possible. Sometimes, too often, it doesn't work that way. You arrive, your heart to his, and find the wall. The door closed. It is a very intimate rejection. No one can see it - but the feeling saturates every movement.

But not this weekend. Not even once.

By Sunday, the pain and exhaustion set in. Once again I missed the last milonga of the festival on Sunday night. I fell asleep around sundown, sore, tired, and elated.

3 comments:

jimgil said...

Beautiful post Mari. Thank you for expressing something of such depth so well.

Dieudonne said...

Congratulations,glad to hear that you had such a great time. For those of us who have the pleasure to dance with you on a regular basis, we know what to expect, and we look forward to it. Dancing with you feels like everything is good with the World just as it is, and also as it isn't.
I was thinking about what it is that is new with your dancing, and now I have it. These days you take full responsibility for your dance, you know who you are, what you want in life and tango (same thing really), and you bring all of those to the dance. It is as if you say: I am Mari, and I say OK!
You set the tone and we follow, you give, we take, you pull us in, we give, because you take full responsibility for the outcome of the dance by giving 100%, and we respond by giving also 100%, and by so doing, the dance is always complete.
You understand tango, with you, it is not a simple entertainment, or a way to pass time to avoid loneliness (there are easier ways). You dance like it really means something to you, and I can feel in the embrace that it does, and so do all those men you dance with. Your embrace is clean, warm and non judgmental, and so allows us to be. So THANK YOU!

Mari Johnson said...

Jim - thank you for your comment - and thank you for all that you've done for me on my tango journey.


Dieudonne - I just don't have words. Thank you for what you wrote. I am trying to think of something to tell my coworkers who wonder why I am at my desk sniffling and wiping my eyes. You are such a beautiful soul, Dieudonne - and it shows in your dance. Thank you for giving me the freedom to open all the doors in my dance.