Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Marvelous Moments (part 2)

A foundation for Magical Moments:
in tango and maybe life

National Geographic "Unique Moments"

From an earlier post "Marvelous Moments" and discussions with mostly women, I became interested in why many women have had their marvelous moments in the past but now it is all down hill.  I think I know why this is.  Marvelous moments are when a man takes them on a great ride.  As they become more and more sophisticated, that happens less and less. 
I asked these two questions of many tangueras whom I know:

  Is this true of you?  (comments for Marvelous Moments Part 1):
"Thank you for sharing this experience, and for putting it into words so beautifully. I can empathize with your 'beginner' partner as my most intense, out of this world moments in tango came when I was a relative beginner (I'm speaking as a follower)."

Second:  What do you think a person can do to maintain the magic?  
I would like to list your answers later on a blog I will name "Recipe for Magic Moments."  Perhaps we can all learn from each other.

Marvelous Moments also caused my friend and fellow "blogista," Mari and I to talk a lot about this subject, and she published three great posts on this subject of how to make the marvelous moments continue.

I also talked with many others.  Is it really true that the good times are limited and sometimes over after the first years of euphoric moments?

Isn It is an existential and spiritual question? So this post may uncover more than just tango.  It is a spiritual discovery about any subject, and tango is just one example.  The question is about blessings.  I used "euphoric" or "marvelous" moments, but a more ancient idea it would have been "blessings."  Do our blessings decrease as we get older or more experienced with anything and everything we do?  That is the true challenge, and tango can be the medium to discover spiritual, philosophical or even developmental truths about our lives.

I will have more comments at the end, but here are some of the thoughtful comments I got from tangueras whom I have asked about their euphoric moments and how they might maintain these marvelous moments:

From a young a fairly new dancer who really shines now:
"I've never really realized that, but I'd have to say it is true.  I recall having many more moments of OMG OMG OMG during about months 6-12 of tango.  The first 6 months I mainly felt like a bumbling idiot.  But after I gained my footing and had some confidence, the magic started flowing.  I'll never forget:
-the first time I did a gancho without even thinking about it.
-the first time I felt a connection with someone
-the first time I recognized a song and landed the ending perfectly as a result
-the first time a certain leader asked me to dance
-the first time I felt the beauty of a perfectly led volcada
It's all like the first few months of any love affair (and that's what tango is right?) :)  Your first kiss, your first dance, your first "I love you".  You can't recapture that magic.  But, like any relationship, in order to keep things working, you:
-be open
-role play (lol)
-take care of yourself
-try new things
-keep learning
I hear that as a result of these things and time, something even more beautiful emerges- something even better than that beginning magic.  I'm not there yet, in my relationship or in tango.  But I'm gonna stay tuned."

So that revealed an inkling of how tango is just one manifestation of finding our magic moments in life.

From a Tanguera in Australia:
"I have had magical moments but I am looking for new ones. I think a women maintains the moments with how she wants to dance in the moment with who she is with. . . . I remain positive as I know that when I am ready the magic and dance partner will happen for me. In the meantime I dance with my teachers who always present a magic moment for me as they allow me to dance (it is just like floating around the floor with them ) I am in heaven so to speak."

From an Austin Tanguera:
She described amazing moments in Buenos Aires with great leaders and great the ambiance of the city.  I think she then described very well the substance of what these eurphoric moments are made from:
"Sometimes we connect, head to toe, soul to soul.. an energy blend that truly feels like One.  We rarely talk about it or acknowledge it... but I think it has to do with something mystical and mysterious... chemistry maybe...and I think it has to do with being present, and slowing down,... a kind of reverie or reverence for the beauty of the other, and the beauty of the music and dance."

From a Tanguera in NJ -- some great advice:
"Hola Mark!

First: Yes, magic moments still happen after 4 years. It depends on the leader. Some dances are a wonderful dreams and others are nightmares. For me, a lot of the magic is in the embrace. I prefer a very secure, very close embrace so we move as one. Even just walking in parallel system can be heavenly if the connection is right. It's the intermittent reinforcement that makes me continue to dance. Each time I dance I hope it will be a magical one."

Here's her recipe for magical moments: 

"Here is my list:
  • Feel like one with your partner.
  • Communicate very carefully and clearly to your partner. 
  • Develop a fantastic embrace.
  • Develop very good basic technical skills.
  • Listen to and express the music. Don't  just do a series of steps.
  • Have good personal hygiene - including flossing.
But, accept that the magic will not happen with everyone.

I remember dancing with a visiting teacher with whom I felt way beyond wonderful. A friend of mine also danced with him and said, 'So what's the big deal?'  Ah, those euphoric moments... it's what keeps us coming back for more."

From a young woman in Texas:
"First: to me the magic moments started after I became more advanced. That is, after I've gotten much better in connections, musicality, and improvisation. I've also discovered that my magic moments tend to occur with partners in the nuevo tango style (both open and close embraces) and with nueveo/alternative music.

Second: to maintain the magic, it takes complete relaxation of the body and 100% of giving yourself to your partner and music. Complete trust and focus on becoming part of the music and each other."

A real firecraker tangera in DC:
Magic moment for her were "... when someone half my age tells me I'm "perfect" ~~ that's the dance talking! ...or you dance a perfect tango with a complete stranger from half way around the world and tango is the only 
"language" you have in common. . . or sometimes it's as simple as a knowing glance or an impish smile."

And her recipe for having more of these moments (and she has a lot of them):  
"I think it's like cooking (or how Italians and Cajuns cook).  There may be a basic recipe, but you go with your intuition ... and new secret ingredient comes along."

Here is my take on the recipe:
Men may have it easier.  I think that we find ourselves willing to dance with women at all levels and so we find ourselves being guides to magic and it makes it magical for us.  Many women still put up their nose to me because I am not at their level (at least in their mind) -- or they want to be taken on some Nuevo trip that I am not willing or capable of doing.  For the most part they are sad souls who look so pathetic when they are not dancing and they are often just sitting there waiting for the man to come take them on a wonderful ride.  They are also the incarnation of this problem of not having enough magical moments, not enough blessings.  I don't mean to put them down.  I truly feel sorry for them.

The role should change from being passively waiting for a Nirvana-ride to the active role in dance and also of being a mentor, the one who brings magic.  Women can do this.  But it will need new paradigms that are not "lead and follow" or "entrege" (submitting to the the man).  [Please see the November 2010 post "The end is of leading is near."  http://tango-beat.blogspot.com/2010/11/end-of-leading-is-near.html]  One teacher told me: "I am driving and they are going out for a ride."  But I counter:  Submissive women will have fewer magical moments later on.  

The DC "firecracker" (mentioned above) told me about the magic moment that a woman can have through mentorship:  

"...When someone told me they felt like they were dancing for the first time (with me) and not doing steps --  that was really a big moment for me...."   

Also, when a fairly young tanguero recently died suddenly, she remembered that he had just told a friend that she had been a mentor, one of the few women who would dance with him.  She had never realized the importance of her active role, and luckily she learned of it right before he died.  THAT is a magic "moment" that expands to influence us for life.  Surely, this is true for the many mentors I have had. My first tango coach is replete with magical moments (from El Paso).  She mentors and enjoys learning.  The tangueras in Austin danced with me and saw me grow, and now they have a true milonguero.  The magic moment was built over time and through patience.  Wasn't this why tango partners weep in each others arms?  Well, that is how it has been for me when I have left a tango community for reasons of finding work.  We had built a house of magical moments, and like a child leaving the house, it was bitter-sweet goodbye but powerful reminder of the paradox of life that we must embrace the moment, we cannot stop or hold it.

"...I hold you and wish
I could hold the moment as well"

[from the tango poem, Embrace the Moment]

I am not sure if I know any recipe.  But there is something we all can learn about counting our blessings, or dancing with souls not just partners, or mentoring newer tangueros/tangueras by having an active role that isn't "lead and follow" but distinct and powerful for both men and women.  

In talking with so many about this and in my own reflection on "Magical Moments," I discovered or rediscovered that euphoric moments that are seen as separate events will always have a tradgic finiteness about them.  What if we link our blessings and make them into a structure?  Then the euphoric moments of a relationship are not thrown out just because the relationship ended.  All things end on earth; so cherishing the euphoria of that relationship and acknowleging its end is a far more resilient way to embrace life.

I humbly submit, that perhaps the recipe of to continued Magical Moments (blessings) is to count those you already have as if they were bricks.  They are all linked in the building of your life.  Anything that is not a blessing is the weather.  Keep all your bricks, no matter who gave them to you.  The bricks stay; the weather dissipates.   

I wish you, more than anything else, not merely more blessings but a protective house built of blessings surrounding you.


  1. I think that the magic changes over time. I agree with the love affair analogy. In the beginning it is so intense but it evolves and changes over time, hopefully to an enduring love.

  2. I think you summed up many things beautifully. The only point I would argue is the one about entrega - which I think is explained differently by different teachers. I was taught that entrega is not about surrendering to the man - that would be useless and wouldn't serve the dance or the experience. Entrega is about surrendering to each other and to the music - surrendering ego and vanity and assumptions. Surrendering the future and the past to the present moment.

    Entrega is my recipe for blissful, connected dances. When one of my teachers told me that men dance with me because I am "simpatico", I thought that it meant that men felt I was safe, and nice, and just easily pleased. Not that any of that is untrue - but lately, leaders have told me other things that might be getting more to the heart of it. When I can - when I'm able to physically and emotionally, I give everything I have to the dance. I want to empty my entire being into the tanda and leave nothing behind. I want to be used up completely.

    As I wrote in the FB comments, mostly I don't want to wonder, at the end of the tanda, what it would have been like to have given more.

    When I do that, I almost always have a wonderful tanda - no matter what skill level the leader is. Thankfully there are leaders here who feel it, appreciate the effort of it - and reciprocate. It's transformative - for them and for me. That is how I have several (on a good night) blissful tandas a night. When I hold back - it's almost impossible to reach that level of connection. I have more consistently marvelous tandas now than I did a year ago. In fact, it feels like it gets better all the time - but the work that it takes is different than in the beginning.

  3. @SMW: I agree that magic moments must change as we mature. It is indeed a great analogy -- the phases of any relationship. People who stay married for many years happily; however, have one thing in common: They maintain the honeymoon. I told my son the other day that wisdom is attained by growing older and younger simultaneously, maybe that is a key to maintaining the magic in tango and all things. My son liked that concept.

  4. @Mari: Anyone who reads your comments will see the maturity of your statement, and I hope they will visit your blog to read your side page on "Entrege" (yielding). However, you have had the best of exposure to this concept. Often it is sold as the "follower's role." Ladies, let me say that what Mari says regarding "entrege" is not just good theory, it works. She practices it with all level of dancers. Gents, the same: Women and men must give over themselves to the moment and embrace. When a woman gives herself over to a true gentleman, he is released from performance anxiety and he can just be who he is. What a powerful thing happens with "entregandose" (yielding oneself over). Paradoxically, the one who does it has set the tone of the magic that is more likely to follow. Mari, I laud your critique/clarification. We agree 100%. ¡Te estimo mucho!


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