Dancing for me has been a real lifesaver lately. It’s always been the perfect prescription for a broken heart. Last year, Salsa could have saved me from feeling sorry for myself and embarking on a long-term relationship with Ben and Jerry. But it didn’t; it wasn’t enough to get me through my most recent relationship derailment. Salsa is such a joyful dance but I was too sad to even attempt it.
When it comes to dwelling in sadness, Tango is just the thing. The music, the lyrics, the longing: it was exactly what I needed. During my week in BsAs, the sad strains of tango pulled me back from a trail of tears. I channeled all of my regrets and melancholy on to the dance floor.
My friends like to tease me about my passion for dancing. Like everything else in my life (including my love life) it’s an all-or-nothing deal. “Soon,” they say, “we’ll be seeing you on Dancing with the Stars.” Ha! If they only knew…
I am not a natural dancer. I come by lots of other things naturally (languages, diplomacy and falling for the wrong men), but when God was giving out grace and coordination I must have been the last in line. Whatever little talent dust was leftover in the cosmic gift bag and was sprinkled on me never made it past my neck.
So I have to work for every step. And work I do. When it comes to mastering a skill that is just slightly beyond me, the one thing that saves me is my stubbornness. It’s an “I’ll Show You” attitude that allows me to shrug at my missteps, laugh at myself and try again and again and again.
Take, for example, my morning technique classes. I practiced walking for five days. How hard could it be, right? You would think walking is an easy thing since we do it every day. But let me tell you, it is not. Walking in Tango requires deliberation, precision and balance, and I was as wobbly as a newborn colt. After my first class I felt a bit dejected at not being able to master such a simple task.
Later that day, my first Tango dance lesson was only slightly better. Since I was in Latin America, I was doing my best to channel that superstar of song, that mistress of movement, that diva of dance Shakira, but to no avail. She’s right, “hips don’t lie,” and mine were a dead give away. Trying to master the contradictory movements of keeping your upper torso still while moving only your hips is nothing short of impossible – at least for me.
I was dreading my first milonga that evening at Nino Bien. But since I had nowhere to go but up, I surprised both myself and my practice partners on the dance floor. Every day the steps got a little easier as I became more confident. By the end of the week and my last Milonga at Confiteria Ideal (photo), I was dancing steps I never thought possible: the elegant walz, the fast paced milonga and, yes, even a little salsa.