when worlds collide

My tango world . . .

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.

One life.

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.


happyseaurchin said...

hmm and wow

leave people to have their own experience
no hopes or expectations on your part
this enables you to be free to continue enjoying
compared to that feeling when you watch a film you have recommended with another
and while watching you can tell it doesn't have the same signficance to them...

the centre of gravity of self shifts to the dancing version
since it is closer to your true or natural centre
and all the crap that has made you apologetic etc dissolves

another insightful and courageous post

Triman Beaumont said...

hmmm... if i compare my life before and after i met tango, there was one big difference: i didn't imagine i ever could be more underslept before; i found i really could, later then :-P

Mari said...

happyseaurchin: a very good analogy about movies. makes a lot of sense. Thank you as always for your comments!

TrimanBeaumont: I'm wondering how soon I'm going to find myself saying, "well, at this point I might as well just stay up and go to work." lol I know dancers who do it. Thank you for you comment!

Anonymous said...

I often wonder why tango affects some people so powerfully... And why is the 'tango connection' so strong with certain people and weak or non-existent with others? Not sure if it's necessarily to do with skill or experience even. Is it them? Me? The music? The moment?

Or is it a little of all these, plus the fact that sometimes we find someone in whom the feelings for tango are similar to our own?

And those who have experienced that connection continue to seek it.

Anonymous said...

Such an insightful post, Mari. The truth is that you already ARE milonga-Mari. And it's not so much that you have to admit the outside you into the milonga, but that you invite milonga-Mari to visit more often in your "other" life.

Elizabeth Brinton said...

Fantastic, honest post Mari!
I remember the very moment when I looked into the mirror and saw a real me emerging, the tanguera me, and I said: Watch Out! Things are going to be different now.
As far as the real life stuff, working, shopping, missing tango...it gets easier, it gets calmer, it really does. You do have to integrate it all though or it can be hard.

Golondrina said...

Lovely post. My lives are still very separate which is a bit of a shame although part of me still enjoys the possessiveness of knowing that tango is only for me.

Mari said...

Several months later, my tango life is still pretty separate from the rest of my life - but it's not so bad. It gets easier and easier to cross the transitions. And let's face it - it's always an opportunity to recruit into the church of tango lol. I am also more and more "Milonga Mari". Thank you happyseaurchin, Triman, magickwords, Johanna, Elizabeth and Golondrina for your thoughtful responses.