Monday, January 15, 2007

My first tango moment...

Well, it happened, and no one was more surprised than I was! I've been taking lessons (two real ones, and a couple of bootcamp style lessons from S) and attempting to dance for less than a month. Key word there is attempting. I've been to one practica so far, which was helpful in the leaps and bounds sort of way, (thank you O!!!) and then Saturday night into Sunday morning was S's One Year Tango Dancing Anniversary milonga. We were supposed to have a boot-camp style practice session before the milonga to try to get me into dancing shape, but that did not happen due to everything else that needed to happen for the party. So when we arrived and after we set everything up, I was nervous when S asked me to dance with him at the very beginning of the milonga while the dance floor was pretty much empty and few people had arrived, but I was there to have fun and dancing was a part of the fun, so after half a glass of red wine, off we went. And some how, it worked. I was not perfect, but I found my axis and kept it, I had my balance and kept it, and the tension that normally invades my embrace and upper body forgot to come along for the ride. And on top of that, I was having fun so I was able to follow S's lead with the music and exude some semblance of musicality myself. And with each tango, it improved a little bit, until I was so high I thought I would float away. It was awesome. Actually, it was beyond awesome. S would lead me through these little side steps that he favors, and I was giggling my way through them; he lead me through things I did not know, but who cared? I went anyway and did whatever seemed right. I did not freeze, I did not jump, and I had the best time ever. I think that S was even more surprised than I was. I did not want to stop for fear that I would lose it and never find that moment of near nirvana again, but stop we had to, for a variety of reasons, and honestly, if I had not danced again that night, I would have been thrilled. But I did dance, for almost 5 hours, and with some leaders I found that near nirvana, and with others I did ok. There was one gentleman, P from Montreal, whom I danced with, and it was lovely. I told him I was a complete beginner, but he did not mind at all. So off we went, and it was a similar thing, he danced one tango with me very simply, to see where I was, and then increased the level of his lead for the remainder of the tanda and through the second tanda. It was amazing. Again, I followed through steps I did not know, I just released thinking and followed with what felt right. (Note to self, remember that feeling and try to replicate that release EVERY time.... it works wonders!). After the first tanda, we chatted through the "curtain" and he asked how long I had been dancing. I told him less than a month and he was very surprised. He thought I had been dancing for at least 5 or 6 months, so my ego had one of the best boosts ever. P could tell that I had ballet wiring in my body, but I was trying to overcome that, and he thought I was progressing really rapidly. The second tanda was even more fun than the first, and I just laughed at my missteps and enjoyed the dance. It was heavenly.
There were multiple other leaders whom I followed well with, K was great, his lead was very clear and kept his movements simple and we had a grand time. There was one moment when he put me off axis and just stepped around me, turning me on my right foot, and I felt like I could turn all day if he wanted me to. My balance was right there and I felt so strong and secure. It was as though everything came together and worked in tandem in my legs, feet and hips. And then a milonga came on, I have not danced milonga at all, and fully expected to be walked back to my seat, but K stuck it out, showed me the basic step, told me not to cross, and off we went, moving very fast around the room, but he kept it so simple that I loved every minute of it. P from R.I. was also lovely to dance with, and we had the best time. He was very playful and I basically laughed my way through the tanda. There were some other leaders whose styles were so vastly different, that I struggled to keep up with them and follow. Those dances were passable, and I hope not torturous for them, but it was difficult for me to switch between leaders with such varying styles, I did not realize how difficult that would be. I now realize that I need to keep in mind the leader's style when they ask me to dance, there were a couple that I really should not dance with until I am much further along, and probably one or two that I just should not dance with at all because my budding style and preferences do not mesh at all with theirs. S made a very good point as we were driving home later that night...errr...early morning, just because I am a beginner, I do not have to accept every offer that I receive. Being selective about my leaders will help me learn, and I should use the observations that I make while watching the dancers to decide if I can learn from the leader. Sound advice I think.
After about 5 hours, I pretty much blew out my feet. It reminded me of when I played woodwinds in orchestra during high school and college. After playing for hours you can "lose your lip" in that you can no longer feel the notes or find the nuances of the rhythms. You are just blowing hot air, and that does not make pretty music. And that was what happened to me. I danced a tanda with a leader whose lead style was so incredibly subtle that I often had no idea what I was to do or where I was going. I felt awfully about it, but what could I do? I may have moved really well earlier that night, but I still am at the point were I need clear leading. Immediately after I danced with K again, and he noticed immediately that I was off. He asked what happened, and I said I must be getting tired. I tried to re-capture the magic from earlier in the night, but it was gone. Then I danced again with S, and I was a mess. I was really tired, and all the tension that I had managed to avoid, came rushing back. He also wanted to know what happened to me, and what could I say? I was done. 5 hours seems to be my limit right now. So we finished the tanda, he went off to dance more, and I went to get some wine and take my shoes off for awhile.
I sat on one of the couches, ate some veggies and drank some wine and watch the last few hours of the milonga. (Yea, my first milonga, 9pm to 6am.... do you think I may have pushed it a little thinking I could dance the whole night?? My perfectionist tendencies can sometime get the better of me.....) It was a lovely evening, and I was able to chat with a variety of people about tango, art, and dance. And I even was told by a couple of the leaders whom I danced well with that they look forward to dancing with me again to see how rapidly I progress. Talk about an ego boost! It was great. And of course, the best ego boost was from S who normally tells me me "More presence!" "Get your butt under your shoulders!" "What are you doing?! What was that?!", and instead I was told that danced rather well, considering my level. And even not considering my level. So all in all, if I thought I was addicted before, I am incurable now!


La Planchadora said...

For some reason I loved the image of the gentleman leading the milonga telling you not to cross and then just going - like in an action movie where the tough sargeant shows you quickly how to load a gun and then you have to fight your way through six hundred aliens.

I'm glad someone told you that you don't have to agree to every offer just because you're new, any more than you have to take every class a college offers because you want your degree. Picky works well, more often than not.

What shoes are you wearing? (I know you think I'm crazy, but you can dance longer in 4" stilettos than you can in any other shoe. I swear. That heel is filled with magic!

And aluminum.)

Debbi said...

It rather was like an action movie! I found as long as I did not think, I basically survived with out too many injuries (one big bruise to my left shin only). I have ordered two pairs of 4 inch heels from Argentina (sigh, not so patiently waiting for them to arrive) and right now I am wearing a 2 1/2" pair of Capezio practice tango shoes. They are comfortable, and bland, but they are good for now. But once my real shoes come in, watch out! I am hoping that there really will be magic in the heels! :-)