Two Milongas, One Pair of Shoes!

As previously mentioned, this weekend was a tango double-whammy, nearly - well - doubling my tango involvement for the month in one fell swoop of the unweighted leg (preferably swooping beautifully into space through a led move or other and not - as occasionally may have happened by me to perfectly unsuspecting tangueras on more continents than I care to admit - into another follow's rear or other delicate areas).

That's right! It's like I'm an actual real dancer or something. The first event, as you'll recall, was our grand experiment in tango-mixology and had the irresistible lures of (1) being totally free, and (2) being totally non-partisan. This fostered a really nice little symbiotic relationship where all the active teachers in town got to show up, show off, and liberally strew their fliers, while we in exchange got their students to follow them here. As a result: total success. The music was great. Two song tandas, which was kind of intriguingly quirky, but since "we've" recently cut back to mostly three song tandas, I guess it was  inevitable. I can't wait until the trend is completed and we have one song, followed by a snippet of cortina, followed by a song, followed by a cortina! But, no, it worked just fine. It's hard to burst brains into the practice mold. People either want a class or they just want to repeat the same dance they have a million times over and over at each milonga. And this is lovely. I do think the distinct value of a practica is that you have permission to stop, to repeat, to hear constructive feedback from your partner, and to improve in a non-judgmental environment. So it was a bit of a mull for me for a bit: do I just dance with my regular leads like I always do, or do I interject and stop them from time to time to offer my take, as I would during a private lesson or one-on-one partner practice? I waffled but was gently more vocal if something didn't work out.


What really made it fun was that non-partisanship. I saw people I haven't seen in months, because there was so much cross-cliquing happening. I have my event. I am too crotchety and merciful to my beleaguered fiance to do the tango-hopping I'd need to do to see even 3/4 of my favorite leads on a semi-regular basis. Having even a once-off where they all came together in a single spot was rather delightful - like a Bellingham best-of reel. Also, it was pleasant seeing all the organizers and teachers in a single room together. They were all quite well behaved, and polite to each other. This is heartening to me. I think like many things, when you see less of each other, you grow to become more suspicious of each other's motives. Something about parallel play and face-to-face contact definitely minimizes that anomie roiling when too many passionate people having too many ideas for a small community to contain.

My favorite part of the evening was when a couple wandered in off the street because they were curious, and were immediately swept up in their own private tango lesson.

Anyways, all went well. We're in discussions to repeat it in 2013, for a modest entry fee. And we all got a shout out to mention our own milongas, including Tango Experience's Bogo for students which definitely padded attendance the next evening...


Which was a decadent feast and a little side of tango, as always. I insist my cohost should have been a caterer. It was an odd night, due to the influx of students and a slight absence of those I've come to expect as regulars. On the other hand, two long lost old friends also randomly appeared: the tango/blues/salsa barracuda, herself, Ms. Marilyn Monroe if Marilyn were also a dirty librarian with a real taste for crafts and quilts; and my old Seattle practice/teaching partner from the 8th Style, Jon. Jon's the stay at home daddy for two infants right now, so although he moved to Bellingham recently, I don't see too much of him. It must have been about a year since we last danced, but he did sneak in a vals set with me shortly before I left. There were some bits of rust to shake off in the connection, but it was such a whiff of nostalgic revelry far surpassing any apple pie aromas or pine trees in my world. When you dance with just the right person, the dance moves on breath and pulse. And that was exactly how it felt.

 I read somewhere that we are particularly attuned to music, because some part of our brain hears it as a living creature - the rhythm is the heart beat, the timbre is the voice - and that in some essence, we are empathizing with the music when we listen. I believe even all our mirror neurons and so on light up light up like Times Square. I love that additional triangle - I'm breathing with my partner, I'm breathing with the music, I'm breathing with myself. I think maybe I'm hyperventilating and getting kind of dotty.

My ankle was a bit sore, I was a bit tired, and I was just kind of aphasiac during the lesson. There's nothing more frustrating than not quite following where the lesson is going and then not quite being able to articulate what you're thinking about where it might go. I don't think it was a horrible challenge, but I was happy to be done with the second-teacher's hat on that occasion. Due to all that (and having had ample chance to focus on form in front of a mirror in my tightest skinny pants last night - if you want to work on leg work, this is the only and most painful way to do it), I think I was a little more self-conscious than lent to fine dancing. Perhaps suggesting I should space my practicas and my social dances a bit further apart. Sometimes I can focus myself out of that space by thinking of falling brown silk or some other meditative concept. Sometimes, not as much.

But it always reminds me how much I enjoy the experience and how I should keep pushing myself to find opportunities to work on my own dance. Not an easy mix with my current situation of early-birdness, relationship, schedule, and inevitable inertia that goes with being a tired introvert... but good impetus to keep in mind anyways.
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