I began my journey with an Argentine friend who wanted to learn tango. He felt pressured to pick up some basics, but his interest quickly waned. My interest was piqued. What was this dance? Having a lifetime of ballet and significant experience with modern dance, jazz, tap, and other concert/performance dances made me skeptical about my foray into this social dance. My only previous experience with social dancing was with salsa, which I continue to dabble in but have never committed myself to studying. Social, partner dances largely escaped my scope of interest – and I had convinced myself that I didn’t understand them, that I didn’t have the bodily intuition for such improvisational social dancing … despite my interest in contact improvisation. But something about AT held my interest long enough to make me go back for more.
Another friend of mine agreed to take an eight-week beginner class with me. This was no soul-moving experience – it was one of many man-inspired activities of ours, which also included salsa dancing, club dancing, group dinners, and gossiping. My friend was dealing with her own guy-interest while she took on the mission of finding me someone suitable. Little did she realize that tango would become my lover; for at least six months after beginning to learn this dance I hardly even considered going on dates. I spent my time taking this class, taking it again, attending practicas and, eventually, venturing into local milongas.
At some point my friend lost interest in the dance, although she thankfully did not allow me to lose our friendship in pursuit of the dance. I continued. I became a regular, someone who could always be found at a few places and sporadically found at other events on any night of the week. I was still very much a beginner, but something in me clicked with tango. A part of me that I had been trying to reach with myriad other dances was unlocked, released onto the floor of countless milongas. I have to thank with all of my heart the patient leaders who nurtured my dancing in those early steps – leaders who made me feel my potential; leaders who, whether they truly believed it or not, made me believe that I could learn this dance; leaders who encouraged me by seeking me out at practicas and milongas, showing me glimpses of what it could be like. (And I have not at all reached that potential or even really plateaued yet! I am just over that beginner’s hump where some people quit because they just aren’t “getting it.”)
And so, by the end of the summer of 2007, I was hooked.