I have had people, both here and in person, wonder why I work so hard taking classes and practicing and dissecting movements and thinking when the point is to enjoy yourself in the milongas. I have repeatedly said that I enjoy refining things, that all the classes and practicas are just more ways to refine everything. That yes, you can enjoy tango by doing nothing more than attending milongas, but I want to practice and study as well.
But I just had a fabulous “AHA!” moment that clarified things for me. Sure, I hope that some of the things I learn in classes, some of the things I practice, some of the things I think and write about will end up in the milongas. That I will be a better dancer, that I will enjoy the milongas more and more leaders will enjoy me. But that isn’t all!
The goal is not just to dance in the milongas. I know that for many people that is the goal, and I can see why that would be so. But for me, it is not. I also enjoy the process of taking classes, of practicing, even when the very thing I learn and practice does not appear on the milonga floor. I realized this as I read Sally’s latest post, where she mentions the high boleos she was practicing that, she says, “I never dance in the milongas!” (By the way, check out Sally’s post – it’s a nice review of Greta Flora shoes!)
From my first five-year-old ballet class I have enjoyed the process of being in a studio, trying to improve for its own sake. As a child the classes always ended in a recital, but I looked forward to the technique classes just as much as the ones that taught our recital choreography. In college, I took dance classes that had no such culmination. The class was for itself. The dance was for itself. I did not take that technique into a social setting; I did not aspire to dance professionally on stage (at least after the point where I decided I wasn’t going to). I took classes because I enjoyed learning and practicing and working and seeing myself improve. And in tango, I enjoy that just as much as I enjoy walking onto the milonga floor.