Friday, August 8, 2008

Question #3: What Was Your First Milonga Like?

What Was Your First Milonga Like?

My first milonga was at the Cell Space, which is a very cool, art studio inside a big warehouse. I walked in and immediately felt the buzz. It was packed with people tangoing in a huge counter-clockwise river of dancers. It was fun, exciting, and a big party.

I watched everyone tangoing and they made it look so easy. Certainly it would be that easy for me, too. I took the floor with my friend and I took her into our embrace prepared to look as smooth as everyone else on the floor.

So, how did it go? Yeah, not so well.

I felt confused, chaotic, and stressed. And this was all with my former salsa partner who is a great dancer. We performed salsa for three years and we've always connected extremely well in our dance. But that was because I knew how to lead her in salsa & because she's such an accomplished dancer. Now I was trying to lead her in a tango, a dance neither of us knew. So, while tangueros floated by us completely in synch, I struggled to know how to walk myself, let alone walk and lead my parter at the same time.

When I went to my first milonga I'd been dancing salsa for seven years, so I felt very comfortable with it. But now for the first time in years I felt like a complete beginner all over again.

Given how difficult my first milonga was, I wouldn't have guessed how passionate I'd become about tango. Tango is the most challenging dance and that's part of her allure.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Question #2: What Is The Best Tango Dance You've Ever Had In Your Life?

Thanks again to dear Laila for providing the inspiration for these questions. Some of these came directly from her and others are mine...

What Is The Best Tango Dance You've Ever Had In Your Life?

I was dancing here in San Francisco with a wonderful woman who shall remain nameless, of course, but she's been my inspiration for some of my posts here before. I wasn't very good at the time (not that I've improved that much since!). But you know how in tango you can feel like Sisyphus at every milonga--forever pushing your boulder up the Everest that is tango? I struggled and pushed and give it my all, but still didn't feel like I was making any progress.

Finally, though, I was at this milonga and I danced with my friend. We had an amazing tango. I mean our connection was awesome & I felt like I was tangoing at a new level. She's always been a better dancer than me, but she raised her level that night, too.

Somehow it all came together for that tango. We finished & kind of looked at each other like "How the hell did that just happen!"

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Question #1: "Why Do You Dance Tango?"

As I was barreling through the backroads one night on my way to a milonga with a dear friend of mine (Laila), she started to ask me some provacative tango questions. I had rapid responses for some and no answers for others.

And so, with Laila's permission, I'm posting today the first of her questions. I'm going to write my own response below and I'd love it if you'd add your own answers, too, as a comment. Here's today's question...

"Why Do You Dance Tango?"
Well, there are probably about 10 or 15 easy answers that come to mind, but I don't want to steal other people's thunder, so I'll focus on the most important one for me: tango allows me to meet and connect with great people.

I've made more friends through tango over the past two years than through anything else I've done...more than from work, soccer, skiing, tennis, salsa dancing, and travel combined. And I don't mean just acquaintances--I mean really awesome people.

It all starts with the close embrace, of course. I danced salsa for about 7 years before moving over to tango. I love salsa, but almost all of my friends I made were through the performance team I was on--not from folks I met in salsa clubs. That's mainly because it's harder to get to know someone in a salsa club--it's louder, the norm is to dance one song with a woman and then rotate, and when you're dancing it's usually in an open embrace.

But in tango I find it easier to meet people because it's not too loud, the norm is to dance 4 songs in a tanda, and I usually dance in a close embrace. And then between songs we get to talk some, which makes the whole tango scene very social.

I've met some great guys, too, in classes and milongas. I can't even guess how many guys have helped me with technique, which is so helpful--especially since I haven't even been dancing for two years yet.

So, it's for these reasons--getting to meet and connect with so many wonderful people that I dance tango.