Una comunidad verdadera

Yesterday I was writing about the tango relationships, and I feel like I left out some things. For one, I didn’t talk about the great platonic relationships that I have gained through the tango community. I have heard people talk about cliques that form within local tango communities and also in the greater (translocal) tango community. I won’t deny that there were groups of people who seemed distant and closed to me when I started dancing. The ubiquitously exclusive space around the DJ booth seemed almost off-limits to me … that is, until I actually talked to the people sitting there.

That’s the interesting thing about my tango experience: Whereas in other communities (dance and otherwise) I have had trouble ever feeling sincerely accepted and included by everyone – even communities that I grew up in, or spent years in, or even some that I had leadership roles in – I found myself easily welcomed into the tango community. Aside from the rare creepy or rude people, I am acquainted with pretty much everyone. At one point, early on in my milonga experience, a woman came up to me and said, “I had to come talk to you, because I was thinking to myself, ‘Everyone is inviting her, and I don’t know her name!'” This has been a common kind of occurrence for me, and I both appreciate the welcome and the ensuing friendships!

After I started dancing, I quickly found myself being invited to extra practicas, dinner parties, movies, cafes, etc. As I spent more and more time chatting with other followers I felt myself connecting deeper with the community – beyond just the recognition that gets you dances at a milonga. This is a community that cares for you when you are sick, celebrates your birthdays and successes, supports your other ventures, … A community that notices when you have been gone for a while. A community that cares enough to give you a hard time when you stir things up but will keep coming back to support you once they’ve gotten used to the change.

Best yet, the people who are as addicted as I am are people who understand the passion I have for dancing. And over a glass of wine, or a beautiful tanda, or aching feet, we can sit and share pieces of ourselves that truly matter to us. I have a hard time articulating exactly what makes me feel this way, but I have a real sense of friendship and warmth and community among us.