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
We come together like a door.
And like all doors, an experience is waiting on the other side.
We come together like hinges.
Starting one side, we arrive together and then close on the other.
I place my hand in his hand, ready to embark on this journey.
I breathe a deep breath. He follows.
For a second, I hear nothing but my heart beating.
the music becomes as alive as your soul.
We walk. Slowly. My chest against his.
We pause and I bury myself in him.
My eyes closed, not in fear, but in trust.
Our strides become our breathing.
The music becomes my heart.
The floor becomes my livelihood.
My partner becomes my sun.
No longer are we leader and follower, we are artists.
Partners in this mastery of dance.
We paint our way through the universe,
Lighting every constellation as we go.
The music ends.
We part ways because tango is borrowed.
Whenever we catch glimpse of each other, we remember.
We remember the time we glided through the galaxies .
Traveling to Charlotte== TANGO NIGHT
I would like to dedicate a full post to this city because after only one visit, I fell magically in love with the people and the ambience.
Charlotte is a very friendly tango community in the southeast (which was perfect for me since I was a beginner 😉 ) ). Steve and Diane (ATC) takes new dancers to Charlotte for your first milonga. In all technicalities, this was my 3rd milonga. However, I feel as though it was my first one.
We were one of the first to arrive that night at the Metropolitan Ballroom. It would be an understatement to say I was nervous. But the way I see it, if you are nervous about something, it means you have passion for it.
My insecurities started flooding in.
“What if I don’t get enough dances?
“What if I completely make a fool out of myself?”
Regardless of what I was feeling at the time, I walked in trying to remain composed, calm, and collected. As people were walking in and greeting everyone, I stayed close to my teachers and waited for them to introduce me. There were familiar faces that I had seen before from the Augusta Tango Marathon a month before. One of the first things I noticed about the people is that they seemed more than just friends or acquaintances, they acted like family.
Once everyone was settling and sitting at their tables, the music began. You first start noticing leaders and followers making their way to the floor considerate of where they entered the line of dance. In tango, the first dance and the last dance are usually reserved for your significant other. At the time, I didn’t have a significant other; however, my maestro Steve walked me to the dance floor. This was nice because I felt that it calmed my nerves to dance with someone I was familiar with and also with someone who knew my limitations. One thing I like about dancing with Steve is that he walks and he is so connected with the music. As they say in tango, your walk is your dance. Experts in Argentina spend years on just walking before they are introduced to any other combinations. So Steve and I just walked in the line of dance. As much as I would like to always stay with someone I know in milongas, I also understand the importance of dancing with different leaders. Doing this overall makes your dance better and helps you progress faster. Same concept about being a wine connoisseur, you have to drink different types of wine to truly be an expert.
When you are not dancing in milongas, you sit facing the dance floor, you watch other people dance, and you graciously look around the room in hopes of catching a leaders gaze. It’s good to socialize with others as well, but it’s important to keep your observation up. Also, on a side note, cell phone use is frowned upon unless you go outside, which I learned at a previous milonga.
I got to dance with leaders of all expertise that night! But there is one specific tanda (the 3-4 song sequence you dance with someone) that resounds in my mind. When he cabeco’ed me, I looked around in disbelief to see if there was a chance he was looking at someone else. He walked over and held his hand out to me. My heart raced. The reason behind being, Daniel, is that he was one of the teachers in Charlotte. I knew at that second, that I had to bring my A-game. As we entered the dance floor, we went straight for the embrace. In that moment, I took a deep breath in and out to calm some of the tension. I close my eyes, and instead of thinking, I felt. I wish I could express what sort of freedom that is! He danced very similar to Steve and kept the moves basic enough for me to implicate. Once the tanda was over, he courteously walked me back to my table. And that is when I caught the milonga bug. After that night, I wanted to go to every dance possible.
Charlotte is so special to me and will always remain as such.
The journey continues next week and will continue every Tuesday going forward.
Ciao Charlotte until next time. I feel this is the start to a wonderful love affair
Until next time, live, breathe, and tango on….xoxo
The first things I think about when I think of tango are:
Trust (in yourself and your partner)
I believe as human beings, we are always yearning for something. Ever since becoming an adult, I have always felt something missing in my life. I tried putting my passion in other things, such as relationships and my career. I always fell short. Oftentimes I would imagine my heart being in a cage begging to come out, pleading its case to the jury.
…then something marvelous happened.
When I felt lost in the dark, there was a tiny voice. A voice telling me “Don’t give up.” “Keep going.” “Surround yourself with better friends, better people.” I took action. With our modern day and age, there is always an app for everything. I happened to come across Meetup and I saw a bunch of groups and events on there. I knew I was heading in the right direction. After looking through several groups, I saw a meetup at Soy Noodle for tango. My first thought “Hmm, I never once thought of doing the tango, why not give it a shot?” I instantly messaged the administrator (Steve) and began asking a billion questions. “Do I need to have experience to part of the meet up?” “Do I have to be a registered member?” Steve was so warm and welcoming he told me to stop by.
I’m not going to lie; I’m a pretty socially awkward person when I first meet people. Sometimes my introvert and extrovert like to battle it out. I sat and observed. I first noticed how there were many people from different backgrounds and cultures there. This was nice because I felt it was a place that diversity was important and appreciated. There was no mold that you had to fit into to be part of this group. I was certain after my first meet up, that I was able to make my mark somehow.
Happiness is a combination of pleasure and purpose. People go through their lives wondering what their purpose is and sometimes feel they fail at finding one. And maybe that’s their problem. Who says you only have one purpose? When you’re a parent, it is pretty obvious on what your primary purpose is, but yet again, who says you can’t have many? Isn’t that the beauty of life? You have the power to define yourself and the world around you, not the other way around. I have been asked countless times how I balance my life being a mother, a woman, and a career woman. I always simply reply “God and my planner.” People sit and wait for life to happen. To be happy, you have to make life happen.
When I first started taking the classes, I started to realize how difficult this dance was. I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t feel discouraged. Negative emotions are going to happen. It is what you do with these emotions that make a difference. Thoughts like “I’m never going to get this down.” “Everyone makes it look so easy.” Perseverance and support are the magical ingredients, my friend. I cannot say I did it on my own. I feel that I have the best instructors as well as the best teammates a person can ask for. Steve and Diane have passion that is so admirable and contagious. Because of their charisma, support, and vision, I charge on.
I recall having such a hard time learning the first position as a follower. How do I keep my foot behind the other foot while keeping my leg straight but my hip down? After practice and more practice, and a little mediation, I had a breakthrough. I finally got the stance down! Steve and Diane were ecstatic! This is probably my fondest memory in tango thus far. Even simply recalling it brings tears to my eyes. That is what keeps me going.
“Those who celebrate the small victories and simple pleasures win the game over and over again.” – Unknown
My friends thank you for taking the time to read this today. I’m looking forward to continuing this journey and sharing my experiences with you.
Live, breathe, and tango on
Ladies will have 1 OMG tanda chip. We will have a container with the names of Male Leaders that have purchased a full Marathon pass. ==> Ladies YOU vote for the leader that gave you an “OMG tanda” by placing your chip in the leader’s container at the end of the milonga. We’ll count up the leaders and refund the pass cost of the OMG tanda leader contest Winner! Bare-in-mind, this applies to Male Leaders with a Full Marathon Pass only! FUN begins April 24!
$35/Male Leader pass still available!
For all Marathon information go to: http://www.augustatangoclub.com/event/augusta-tango-marathon/