|If you put out your hand, perhaps you may find yourself richer than before.|
First, the Mountain High
Last night I put my hand out to a woman as she came near, wending her way through the crowd as I stood near the dance floor smiling at her. She had assented to my cabeceo from about 4 meters away. However, as I put out my hand, two women put theirs in mine! Now I had a problem!
Every milonga has a story! About four tandas later I told the lady who had mistakenly thought I was inviting her to dance, "Ma'am, I think I owe you a dance." She seemed eager but very shy. I asked her name, and from this intro, I started speaking to her in Spanish. I found out that this little Peruvian lady had taken lessons but had never gone to a milonga before. I don't think I will ever have a self-esteem issue after all the praise that sweet woman bestowed on me. She didn't know that she was to stay with me for the three waltzes of the tanda. She lavished embarrassing praise upon me, and nearly took off! I had to stop her from leaving. I told her about "el grupo de canciones" of a tanda. I knew that as she was leaving that it was my way out of dancing more, but instead I danced the entire four songs of the tanda. It was really wonderful. She was remarkably talented. It was her maiden voyage. She made my night.
Now the Valley
I dance with a lot of very accomplished dancers; so I am certain that no one in my tango community will know who I am talking about. After many wonderful dances with friends and some strangers, I finally danced with an accomplished -- no let's say, Very Accomplished Dancer. In the middle of a milonga tanda she says, "You are dancing by yourself." I was not sure what this means, mostly out of shock. I have danced with women who are doing all sorts of decorations and I know how this feels. It is hard for me to continue after such a nebulous and brash criticism but I listen to the music and do my very best. She is sweet and it does not at least look like she is upset with me as we walk off the floor. We go back and continue to talk. She explains that I don't lead clearly with my torso and that milonga is more than just walking! I am sure that I need to go in and revamp the entire way I dance. Perhaps I should just find a bridge and end the torture I cause many pooer women! She makes it clear that I am messing up on the most elemental level; so for the moment, I am considering just giving up altogether. "Thanks for making this clear now! I should have given up 4 or 5 years ago," I think to myself.
This phenomenon is called "Tango Trauma." But it is easily healed. Sure, I DO want to heed this unsolicited sage advice regarding my level of suck-ed-ness. Surely it will make me grow because it did not kill me to hear her opinion, right? Undoubtedly she had a good point that I have a long way to go and end point will lead me back to the most basic of things: the embrace. But how am I to psychologically survive to the next milonga? I needed some sort of special milonga antidepressant!
I took one little "pill": I remembered the little Peruvian tanguera. I remembered how I got to be her first ever partner at a milonga and how she just was besides herself in joy. And then a whole host of women stood in line behind her and reassured me of my worth. The therapy worked. I am whole again because I know that I hold no grudge against my Sage Adviser. So even if you don't have too many experiences with other dancers, let these words embrace you: You are unique and every person deserves to dance without criticism at a milonga. When it does happen, sure it will hurt, but you will have many people who were and will be glad to have you in their arms. Stick with these memories and thoughts.
Life has it's highs and lows, so does the milonga. Dwell on the view from the mountain top. You will need it to endure the Lessons of the Valley.
Outstretched hand photocredit:
The embracing words: