Terrified of Tango
January 18, 2012
I love to dance, but I’m terrified of Tango.
Really, I’m terrified of any partner dancing. Over the course of my life, aside from sleeping and eating, the thing I’ve spent the most amount of time doing is reading. The second is probably dancing.
But I’ve always danced alone. When I was younger I thought I simply wanted the freedom to dance without having to think about matching someone else’s movements. I was also afraid of not being good at dancing with someone, and of looking like an idiot. I later realized I had unacknowledged, deeply hidden fears of intimacy and vulnerability that kept me closed off. And, JUST NOW, I realized I was also afraid of having to set boundaries with men! Much easier to not deal with them at all than to go through the discomfort of having to express my feelings/wants/needs/don’t-wants (as in, I don’t want your hand on my ass).
So, despite having taken a few swing dancing and salsa lessons in my college days, and having one singularly fantastic night swing dancing with a man who was a master at leading, I became the queen of rejection. Among my friends I was legendary for ‘The Look,” a sizzling, emasculting, medusa-like laser beam that I would turn on any man who approached me. Eventually I reached a point where I just exuded a stone wall energy, which is what I did here in Argentina the first night I went out dancing at a soul and funk club with my friend, an Argentine who warned me that men would be all over me. I knew they wouldn’t, but I didn’t say anything, and he was surprised at the end of the night that I’d been able to dance for hours without having to shake off a single drunken man.
After that night, I decided I wanted to change. I wanted to begin lowering my stone wall. I’ve always secretly dreamed of experiencing the thrill of perfectly synchronized rhythmic joy on a dance floor. I know it’s going to take practice, willingness to be crappy at it, and a letting go of my need to control, protect and defend.
For the past few weeks I’ve been planning to go to a milonga to learn to Tango. Tuesday nights at La Catedral here in Buenos Aires, or to the outdoor milonga La Glorieta de Barrancas in a park in Belgrano. But the time hadn’t felt right yet. I’ve been invited by friends at least five times, backed out of a commitment twice.
Today, as often happens to me, what I wanted came to me. Call it synchronicity, call it manifestation, call it magic. I love it.
I was treating myself to some café con leche y medialunas at my favorite café, Bardepán, and chatting with my regular waiter, Roberto. Out of the blue he asked if I knew how to Tango. I said no, not yet, but I’d been planning to learn. His Russian husband is a professional Tango dancer, and it sounds like Roberto sometimes needs someone to Tango with while his hubby is entertaining some other pro-Tango dancers who are visiting them.
So, now I’ve got a partner and a teacher!
1. Change my story; don’t go into it with my usual storyline of “I suck at partner dancing. I love to dance but I always dance alone.” Instead: “I love dancing and I’m so excited to learn how to Tango.”
2. Let go of my fear, perfectionism and vanity; be prepared to look stupid and not be immediately good.
3. Laugh. A lot.
Here’s to dancing through fear!
“When you dance tango with someone, you don’t need to know their entire history in order to get a glimpse of their more ‘raw’ self, their human warmth or lack thereof, their ability to listen and participate in a dialogue, their ability to enjoy the music, open themselves emotionally and show their vulnerable side. It’s harder to hide our ‘raw self’ if we are not able to use words to conceal.” – Bora’s Tango Journey