Sunday, February 10, 2008

Our Tango Festivals

We come from all over the globe, driving for hours and even flying for days, arriving not tired, but excited. We leave our world behind, a world at times boring, frustrating, stressful, hectic or even wonderful and blissful, along with our homework, our spouses, the office phone/fax (some of us anyways), our kids and our chores. Regardless, when we arrive we know our other lives begin. This is the moment when our minds register that the possibilities are truly endless. For the experienced festival goer, endless dancers to hold, embrace and enjoy. For the inexperienced tanguero, infinite possibilities for screwing up. But you have to learn some time! Infinite numbers of ganchos and boleos are waiting to happen in a world that befriends, embraces, engages, amuse and entertain us with utter delight.

We are not here to compete but to enjoy. We are not arriving to be the best, but to live the most out of every tango, every milonga and every waltz, to stupefy ourselves into exhaustion and drop dead from dancing. We are not dancing to be number one, but to become a better dancer for ourselves and all of our partners, so that we may live every second of every dance to the height of its nirvana.

In night clubs we may see hip hop and salsa, merengue and bachata as sex on the floor, but in Argentine tango it is not sex, but making love, It is teasing, flirting, quarreling; it is foreplay, after play and every describable meaning in terms of passion. It is what we want it to be, what the music begs to become.

And for us, who travel far and wide for this dance, it is not just a dance. We may lose half our wallets getting there and some our hearts, but gain much more than a dance. We, tangueras and tangueros, gain a whole new network, lifelong friends, even lovers, soulmates and the ultimate - that ever elusive, most perfect connection.

For those that don't tango, the world "connection" is pithy, a bit trifle and certainly passé. For those that do tango, the connection is everything. It is the way we suddenly move, together ever so perfectly in tune, in rhythm, in meldoy and by the end of the tanda, our hearts can be felt across the room, beating as one. Take that ballroom dancers! You literally can feel your partner's heartbeat - because if there is a connection to be had, not even Emily Post can stick a hair between the two of you.

And this strange dance, ever so subtle and addicting (I call it an active form of heroine), becomes more addicting the more we learn. And there is a lot to learn. For many of us we need it at least once per [insert time quantity]. For those of us that don't live in an Argentine tango mecca (you Portland, DC, Boston, Chicago, NYC, Houston fiends!), we have to get our tango fixes in once every month (if work/budget/family allows) or once every other month. For some, once a month, a week - and if you're truly a goner - once a day. Every song you hear on the radio, TV, movies is either tango-able or not worth listening to. All your friends become either tango people or those poor schmucks living half a happy life, but only because they don't know better. Your shoes aren't even exciting anymore if you can't tango in them. Don't even get me started on your wardrobe.

Yet of all these things, these wonderful qualities of tango, cannot begin to compare to the most precious of them all - the tangueros and tangueras, the people who become OUR people. We come together completely unknown, unheard of, but put ourselves, our hearts and our passion and our souls into the loving embrace of another. We move together, we share our embraces and let our bodies connect, sweet like a hug, passionate like a kiss and carefully like a friend. We dance till dusk and take naps so that we may dance till dawn. And when we can't dance anymore we drag ourselves to breakfast... with whomever, from wherever, because we just tangoed for life.

And when we have to leave, as reality rudely interrupts, we will remember, swap photos, trade phone numbers, emails and Facebook, we keep in touch here and there. And when next we tango again, it will be as if we never stopped. Truly, we didn't stop.

1 comment:

tangobaby said...

Dear Sappho,

Thank you for starting my day off in such a wonderful way. This particular writing about tango captures every nuance about why I love it so much.