Aww fall. There are many things to love about fall. Its sweater weather, its pumpkin flavor everything, and it’s the chilly nights wrapped up in a blanket on the porch with your lover. Now, although all those things are amazing, there is one more thing I can add to my “love fall list”, and that being, tango. J
A few weekends ago, I had the pleasure of attending a wine tasting milonga hosted by Impulse Tango and his wife Kim. We were located out in the beautiful country-side of North Carolina, surrounded by tree-houses and muscadine vines; at a place they appropriately call “Treehouse Vineyards”.
We couldn’t ask for better weather. There was a nice breeze and an abundance of sunshine this day. The afternoon started with the wine tasting – with most of the wines being made by muscadine grapes. The staff was professional and courteous and held a lot of knowledge about this type of wine. Personally, the wine was a little sweet for my taste – I tend to go for full-bodied wines such as cabernets. Nevertheless, I felt the wine tasting was a success. Once the tasting had convened, the music started. Oh, when the music starts, your eyes widen, your butterflies start fluttering, and your heart can’t help but sing.
This day was special because it debuted Impulse Tango’s new floor he mastered himself. The floor was absolutely exquisite. The floor came in pieces with an innovative way of connecting the pieces together, and the great thing about this is, never once did I feel the cracks between pieces (good for us ladies and our heels 😉 )
This milonga overall was very special to me because some of my good friends had the opportunity to join in. Some friends that had some tango experience and some that had none, but had an interest in the dance. Tango is wonderful when you do it for yourself, but when you get to bring other people into this mastery of a dance, that is when the true reward comes.
“The great thing about new friends is that they bring energy to your soul.” – Shanna Rodriguez
I feel for every milonga I go to, I walk away with more knowledge about tango. This particular milonga, I learned that sitting and looking for a cabeceo isn’t as effective as I initially thought it could be. At first I was confused as to why I wasn’t getting cabeceo’ed as much this day. I first thought it was because of my level of dance. But then later learned that the most effective way to get dances is to get up and socialize with everyone. And I did just that. I walked away from this milonga feeling happy and energized by the tandas I had the pleasure of participating in.
This milonga goes down in the books for sure. How could you not enjoy wine, good friends, and the feeling and connection?
Besos. Mi corozon. Mi sentimiento. Mi Tango
“What happened? Why did you leave?” I am sure this is a question that many of you have.
The truth is, I never left. My heart for the dance has never left. However my mind has gotten the best of me. I come out on the other side with clarity. 1) One does not need to “earn” the right to lace up dance shoes. The only prerequisite is to give your heart to the music and the dance. 2) There is not a certain number of years or months you need in order to attend a social event. One wise tangeuro once told me “ Your tango journey should not be measure in years but rather hours on the dance floor.” You have to dance. Within in the minutes and the seconds, you will find the path to freedom. The path to the connection.
Your journey belongs to only you! There will always be reasons for you to stop. How to overcome it? “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher” – Oprah (I tend to take Oprah quotes pretty seriously). At the end of the day, you do this dance because of that short 3 dance tanda with a complete stranger and how it makes you feel connected to the world. “At any moment, you have a choice, that either leads you closer to your spirit or further away from it.” – Thich Nhat Hanh. Can you believe that an adult makes conscious decisions 35,000 times a day? As of right now, I am committing myself to one decision at this moment – I must continue to write.
On a side note, my boyfriend is now doing tango – as some of you may know since he made an appearance this past weekend. And he is getting so awesome at it! He is the one that is constantly asking “Babe, can we practice tonight?” And even though I’m mentally exhausted and tired, I dance with him (with sometimes a little debate on how long). He knew that this funk of mine wouldn’t last long. He kept me going. He continues to remind me why I fell in love with tango in the first place. It’s la comunidad, la musica, el sentimiento. (Yes, I know…he is a keeper ;))
“Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long, stretch of gray cement. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won’t happen. We have to teach ourselves how to make room for them, to love them, and to live, really live.”
— Anna Quindlen
And you fine people, are my moments – the moments that light up the stars in my galaxy.
Besos. Mi corozon. Mi sentimiento. Mi Tango
Charleston Workshop Part II
Continuing from last week’s post, we left off on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday is the biggest day in workshops. There are usually 2-3 workshops during the day and a big milonga at night. During workshops, it is important to mingle and make connections with other people in other communities. The Charlestonians I met this weekend were very helpful in providing feedback at the practicas (a dance setting where it is okay to receive instruction).
Let’s move fast-forward to Saturday night, the biggest milonga of the weekend. When I first entered the room, I noticed all the women’s shoes. Some women wear very high heels, some wear a shorter heel. As a beginner and a tall person, I resorted to a shorter heel to start off with. I like having something to work towards and that is the ability to wear a higher heel at milongas. When I took my seat, I looked around to see if I could catch a leader’s glimpse. I matched eyes with a gentleman that was smart beyond compare and had been doing tango for about 10 years (and he was from my favorite community). I always get intimidated whenever I dance with a skilled dancer, but before I start dancing, I breathe. I breathe and melt into my partner. This is what I learned from Alicia Pons—the embrace. Leaders will tell you that they can tell it’s going to be a good tanda based on the embrace. I tend to think that having a good embrace in the beginning serves as good luck and provides confidence. Confidence- a tough thing to have as a beginner. But when you do start having confidence and believe in yourself, it seems as though you start progressing faster. As Helen Keller would say “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” I ended the tanda feeling vibrant and the night continued. You will have good and bad tandas at every milonga. But that’s ok. Because with the bad you learn your weaknesses, and when you can see where you lack you can start improving more. “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”- Aldous Huxley
So by the end of the weekend, I took a wealth of knowledge from one of the best maestros and maestras in tango. I will continue to go to their workshops in the years to come whenever they are in the area.
Until next time, live, breathe, and tango on xoxo Liz
Since this was an amazing long weekend, I am separating this off into two posts. In order for you to reach the next level of dance, it is strongly recommended to attend workshops. Let me tell you how workshops work for starters.
Friday for me was a bit frightening. I traveled alone to Charleston, came alone to the workshop, and then came alone to the milonga. As much as I wanted to, I did not let my fears get the best of me and continued to tell myself that I am here to improve my dance and nothing else. Upon arriving to Gage Hall, I glanced to my left and saw her, Alicia Pons. She is the woman that most people consider the gold standard in Tango and one of the most sought out maestros (teacher).It was like seeing my first tango celebrity! From that moment, I was instantly motivated to learn from one of the best.
Alicia Pons has a special way of explaining things and talks in analogies (which I love by the way). It’s like all of the sudden, Steve and Diane’s words lit up in my mind and created an “oh so that is what they were saying”. “You will eventually listen to something when you are ready to hear it” Steve always says.
The workshops overall had a bunch of information. I kept on hearing from others “Yeah workshops can be overwhelming for beginners.” It was a tad bit crazy with how much information was being communicated, but I tried to keep my eyes eager, my mind like a sponge, and my heart a window. It is expressed during these workshops that it is almost close to impossible to retain all the information that is given. It important that you walk away with at least one thing to work on.
Friday milonga was at the Charleston’s teacher’s beautiful home in the middle of the city. You all know me by now, thoughts engulfed my mind quickly:
“Who you really are is enough.”- Oriah Mountain Dreamer
All of these fears are common when coming as a new-comer to a different community. I have a specific memory from that night I would like to share with you. A gentleman asked me to dance and the song playing happened to be a milonga. That style of music is very fast paced and often difficult for a novice like myself. Regardless, I went out to dance. After only one song, he said thank you. Gasp! Now I know what you are thinking, “what’s the matter with saying ‘thank you’?” In anything besides tango, thank you is used a nicety, but with tango, you only say it when you are done dancing with that individual. After one tanda (a combination of 3-4 songs), that is when you are permitted to say thank you. If it happens before the 3-4 song tanda is over, it is pretty much saying “I do not want to dance with you.” You can imagine the humiliation I was feeling. A part of me wanted to run and hide. But deep down, I realized something; you become stronger in situations of adversity. There is not one successful person on this planet that never had challenging times. A celebrated story-teller, Oriah Mountain Dreamer, would say “Who you really are is enough.”
During difficult times is when you should not let go of your passion. These situations help shape you into something better! Oftentimes we get caught up in the emotions of “now”, rather than seeing how it can affect our future for the better.
Stay tuned for next week’s continuation of this weekend. Until next time, live, breath, and tango on…xoxo Liz
Twitter: @elizabethstango #elizabethstangojourney