Shesha emailed me one Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks back and reminded me that ATOMIC’s first Midnight Milonga was taking place that night and wouldn’t it be fun if I could make it?
My first thought? Oh crap.
Not for the reasons you’re thinking – one of my goals this year was to learn how to tango, so I was excited to go. But I’m a swing dancer so I was also intimidated to venture into the Latin scene having absolutely no ballroom experience. Yes, I realize it’s at ATOMIC, one of the friendliest venues I’ve ever danced at, but what can I say? I was feeling a little bit chicken. I’ve watched tango dancers for years and envied their elegance and grace on the dance floor. My though of “oh crap” was followed by “I am not that graceful.”
Once I got into class with Matthew Castillo those fears just melted away. Not only was I not the only beginner in the class but Matthew broke down the steps so that we were all gliding across the floor in no time. And, most importantly, it was fun!
Once the Midnight Milonga started the nerves crept back in. To my surprise however, I danced quite a few songs and had fun practicing the steps we had just learned in class. A few advanced tango dancers taught me some more complicated footwork and, in the process, taught me about the heart and soul of tango. Tango is much more than a dance – it’s elegant and slow movements, it’s moving in time with your partner and in the process completely losing yourself in the movement and the connection. There’s a bit of magic that happens when you dance the tango and it absorbs you completely.
What makes tango is the movement. Movements are slow, controlled and very deliberate. As a follow, I am completely at the mercy of my lead, waiting to feel the subtle changes in weight that will indicate movement, no matter how small. Tango is all about weight changes and being simultaneously relaxed enough and sensitive enough to feel it from your partner. I think this will definitely make me a more sensitive follow on the swing dance scene.
As a Lindy Hopper I think the most challenging bit of tango was the arm position. I’m not used to keeping my arm in so close to my body and it felt a bit awkward. For tango it is really necessary to maintain that kind of connection with your partner. And it just looks better.
Now I’m on the search for more appropriate shoes to dance tango in as my RugCutters don’t quite cut it for this dance (although they worked just fine last Saturday). In case you can’t tell, I’m hooked. And so, apparently, is the cat.