February 4, 2010 at 10:23 pm (Lessons)

… is apparently destined to be the bane of my existence. Two sessions on it, in two separate workshops, ended with me trying not to cry, and feeling incredibly stupid. The thing is, I’ve DONE it, in dance with good leaders. But in class, I overthink and get completely lost. This is typical, by the way. Overthinking.

I also had someone be snarky to me about it at one of the workshops over the weekend. “Haven’t you learned molinete yet?” was the gist of it. Which I ignored, because it came from one of those leaders who think they are doing beginners a favor when they dance with them, but still. It stung.

I’m going home tonight, rolling back the rug, and practicing those stupid side steps and pivots until I GET it.


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February 2, 2010 at 1:47 am (Lessons, Video)

I have spent most of the past three days attending a workshop, going to classes, dancing, practicing, watching others dance. It was an eye-opening and mostly enjoyable experience, and I need to post about it, but right now I’m getting ready to attend the farewell milonga, and also I need to do some more processing. In the meantime, enjoy this video of  Caroline Peattie and Christopher Nassopoulos, whom I was fortunate enough to take two classes with. I also danced one tanda with Christopher, and … siiiiiiiigh, is all I can say about that right now.

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January 28, 2010 at 3:49 pm (Lessons)

That first series of lessons took place over the course of a month;  four Friday evenings in a row of posture, walking, turning; they called it “bootcamp” and they weren’t kidding. It moved quickly, from walking in parallel system for the first lesson to cross system and ochos the next and molinete by the third. After the first lesson I felt exhilarated and slightly smug: I could do this! I was better at finding the beat then many of my fellow beginners. Maybe that semester of ballroom dance in college (you know, FIFTEEN YEARS AGO) had paid off!

Hah. I was brought back to earth quickly in the next class. The walking I could do; ochos were, at first, completely beyond me. I thought I was doing it right, and I was really very much, well, not. Me being me, this threw me for a loop. I have this compulsive need to be excellent at anything I’m trying to learn. As a perfectionist and a good student, this started early on and has continued into my adult life, spilling over into recreational activities and life in general. Tango class was no different; I tried to quash my need to be a star pupil, but it was there all the same. And when something doesn’t come easily, well, I get frustrated, and my instinct is to give up. At least once during that second lesson I had to leave the room and run to the bathroom so I wouldn’t burst into tears.

But I persevered; I practiced at home, using the wall, until I grasped the fine points of pivoting and which leg to keep my weight on and which one was free. Back ochos, step with leg farthest from the leader; forward, step with leg closest to him. Ok, got it.  Then the third class, was molinete, and it all fell apart again. This was the class I had to run out of, crying, making a spectacle of myself. Ridiculous, but there it is.

In my defense, there was a lot going on in my life aside from tango. Work was stressful, I’d separated from my husband eight months before but he was still living in my basement, jobless, and there were my two little girls. Why I thought this was a good time to learn something completely new and different, I have no idea. I honestly don’t remember my thought processes at the time very well. I just knew I needed something. I needed a social scene outside of work; I needed to get away from my ex, and from my kids, at least one night a week.  And I needed something that made me feel like, well, a women. Sexy. Confident. Which, I remember thinking, as I wiped away tears in the bathroom, was TOTALLY NOT WORKING.

A couple of  experienced dancers who were helping with the class, or maybe waiting around for the practica after, I don’t know, followed me into the bathroom to see if I was ok. I have to credit them, these women who were total strangers to me then but are now friends, with the fact that I came back to class the following week. It was a near thing, but I did.

This was the first time tango made me cry, but it wasn’t the last. That was the first time I almost quit, and it was also not the last. I’m sure there will be times in the future when I’ll cry, but at this point I can’t imagine a time when I will actually quit. It sounds terribly dramatic, but tango has saved me. Almost killed me doing it, and broke me down farther than I wanted to go, but the rebuilding has been beyond worth it.

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January 25, 2010 at 9:25 pm (Lessons, Video)

I can’t really explain what possessed me to start tango. I’ve never been a dancer and no one would accuse me of being graceful. But there I was, six months ago, standing in my only pair of heels at the first session of Tango Bootcamp.

A mass email from a university club (“NO partner is required and NO experience in any dance is required!”), a YouTube link. a whim, a wish to do something completely my own and utterly different from anything I’d ever done. That’s how I ended up in my all-wrong clompy black heels at 8 pm on a Friday night in the ballroom at the student union.

This is the clip linked from the first email. My first real vision of what Argentine tango could be. I still can’t explain why it captured me; there was certainly no expection in my mind that I could ever dance like that.

And I can’t dance like that, of course. It will be a long time before I can even come close. But six months later, I’m still dancing. And it’s time to write about it.

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