Travelled out to Northampton this weekend with S. Weather was gorgeous, a bit freaky to have 68 degree weather in January in Mass., but gorgeous nonetheless. Saturday night we went to the milonga in Northampton, it is on the 4th floor of the arts building on Main street, I remember taking contact improv and yoga classes there when I lived in the Valley, it is a great space and a great floor. So we get there, look around, and see that everyone is sitting along the walls. No one is dancing at the very beginning, so S offers to dance with me and give me a lesson as we are dancing, great, I can dance a little and not be worried about others on the floor as there is no one else on the floor. And so we go out onto the floor, and I suck. I am thinking so hard about what I am doing and what I should be doing and what the music was like (music was very different from what I was used to hearing at S's when he would teach me, so it was a little disjointing) that I just collapsed everything I had learned. Really frustrating as I had been so excited at the prospect of actually possibly dancing. So S took me over to a quiet corner and we worked on walking, posture, arm position and trying to get me to not tense up. Seemed a hopeless case and I was so disheartened that when we went back to our seats, I immediately took my shoes off as he went off to dance. I just felt so awkward and foolish.
And, as seems to always happen when I take my shoes off and observe the cabaceo, a gentleman approached me and asked me to dance. I laughed a little and thanked him, and explained that I was a complete beginner and was not feeling confident at all that night. He offered to keep it really simple and asked "How can you possibly gain confidence if you never try to dance." Good point. So on went the shoes, and off we went to the floor. I said I was going to apologize now for everything I was about to do, and he said "Don't worry, I'll lead you, just have fun and listen to my body."
And off we went. I was really tense, trying so hard not to be a regret for this gentleman who was so kind as to offer to dance with me. Halfway through the first tango he told me again to relax and just enjoy moving. Big breath, big release, and I tried. And it sort of worked! I was able to listen and almost dance, and when he lead me into something I did not understand, he just gave me an extra second to figure it out and then off we went again. At the end of the first tango I fully expected to hear "Thank you very much" and be lead back to my seat. But to my surprise, he chatted with me about how that was not so terrible and once I relaxed I did ok, then the next song started up, he offered his hand, and off we went again. This time I did better. I tried to breathe and relax and step from the hip. I decided those were the three things I needed to do and it made everything go a little smoother. And when I screwed up, I just laughed a little and kept going. And then there was a third tango, he offered his hand again, and
off we went again. Each dance was a fraction better than the last one. At the end of the set, he told me I was not so bad and to keep practicing and I would get there. I was on a little high. I was so happy to have not been a complete failure and to have had an opportunity to dance with someone other than S (whom I do adore, even when he tells me not to walk like a duck. But he does tell me not to walk like a duck when he is teaching me, so it is a little different), and even though no one else asked me to dance that night besides S, I felt good about the night. And even though there were quite a few beginner leads there whom I certainly would have danced with if asked, I did not especially feel as though I had to keep dancing. I felt ok with myself and feel as though this might actually be something I can do. Maybe even eventually do well, although I'll reserve judgement on that for the moment. :-P
Tomorrow is my first real lesson with Fernanda and I am really excited, I can't wait to learn more and really begin working on the basics. I am sure that there will be more on this subject soon!