The beautiful stage and dance floor of Austin's historic Scottish Rite Temple, with chairs for the Prom King and Queen per the Prom Night Theme.
I used to love tango festivals. At
some point, I hope to love them again, but I think it may be a little while.
small, local milongas it's just that I have a little more time to (try to) remember the
people I should remember. To say the things I wanted to remember to tell
them, and concentrate on what they say to me. Now, I feel so much more awkward
in my interactions with people - and the more people around, the worse
At Austin's Yolatango milonga Saturday night, I forgot people,
faces, names, and even the context of where I should have recognized
them from. Did I meet them in Dallas? Albuquerque? Denver? Here? Have we
ever danced? Were they a client? Was I at Albuquerque's tango festival last year, or the year before?
The venue, Austin's Scottish Rite
Temple, was gorgeous, The music was fantastic. I had friends to sit and
chat with. It should have been an easy night, and it seemed to be at
first. I was happy to be there, excited to see friends visiting from out
of town, and at first I was really enjoying the night. But less than an hour into the night, I noticed I was forgetting things. I was
losing trains of thought mid-sentence. I couldn't remember who I had
just been talking to. Everything I said seemed to be the wrong
thing, out of order, confused and worse, nervous-sounding.
It was nervous-sounding because I was nervous-being. The "High School /
Prom Night" theme of the milonga was painfully appropriate. I felt anxious,
awkward, and quickly exhausted. I couldn't keep track of where we were
in the playlist - did we just have a vals tanda? Milonga? Did I remember
to ask so-and-so about such-and-such. Did I remember to tell Person A
"hello" from Person B, and apologies that they couldn't be there? Where
was I sitting? My brain was a chaos of second-guesses.
Except when I was dancing . . .
fell into place when I danced - every single time I danced. I don't mean
that I danced all that well. I had my usual annoying struggles. But I felt like
myself. I felt natural, calm and happy - as long as I was dancing. The
fog lifted. The chaos quieted.
As soon as I stopped dancing and had
to interact with people outside of an embrace, I felt like I lost
my mind. Thoughts of, "why did I just say that?" "What did he say his
name was?" Then realizing I had been staring and saying absolutely
nothing for several minutes while people wondered if I was annoyed at
something. (The perils of Resting Bitch Face.)
Is this what
large milongas are going to be like for me now? Not a happy thought.
Even before I danced tango, I was used to dancing packed clubs,
completely surrounded by people. I had no anxiety then - or if I did, I
just danced through it and didn't notice.
What are the new rules for my MS brain? Ask me to dance, but don't ask me to talk?
now, I am back at the shallow end of the pool. I'll go back to my
smaller, calmer milongas and figure out what is going so right there -- and
going so wrong elsewhere.