Monday, June 1, 2009

Argentine Tango

There are two superficial thingsI am scared of in this world. (I say superficial because the actual *real* things I'm scared of carry more weight, like my parents dying and me growing old to the age of ninety childless, with no one who loves me. Now, those are my real fears.)

So, the two things I am scared of in this world: sharks and touching strangers. As I've mentioned before, this is the year to fix my body and try new things. I've been to doctors, played volleyball, tried yoga, starred at sharks for longer than 3 seconds (on TV mind you) and now: Argentine Tango.

There is something that draws me to this dance more than any of the others I've danced or watched. In high school, I was big into swing dance and I carried that with me to college. In college, I began ballroom dancing which two of my very good friends were involved with. From ballroom, I branched out into Salsa, Cubmia and Merengue which most of my new Latino friends were really into. With those, there was something about the sounds and the rhythms that really drew me in.
As I grew older, I continued with the latin dances adding Bachata to me repertoire but there was ALWAYS something about tango and yet, it alluded me. It was mysterious and enthralling, angry yet romantic, frantic but smooth. I liked all those contradictions in one dance. Something I can identify with very well. Yes, I know there are different kinds but I'm sure the first introduction was in the movie "Scent of the Woman".

The fact that the lead danced so close, but yet made no advances made me feel comfortable. I like salsa because it lets me get the booty shaking out of me, but at the same time, it still makes me feel shy and uncomfortable. I don't like the feeling of loosing and trusting a partner completely or of a strange man rubbing up against me which many of the Latin American dances tend to do, much like hip-hop.
Now don't get me wrong, I KNOW Argentine Tango is a dance of closeness, but it also seems like a dance of distance of privacy. There is something emotionally intimate, yet emotionally protective. Yeah, I'm stalking you, but I"ll protect you is what that dance says to me. It also say, um yeah, you are going to be held close, so if you can get over that, you'll enjoy me (the dance.) I think the reason I never wanted to try Tango was because I was scared of it. I was scared that it would let me know how horrible I was, that I sucked at hit. I wasn't ready to confront that just yet.
Today was my first Argentine Tango class. There were about four couples and 6 women. Yep, I was one of those woman. So when they say "choose a partner" it always feels like you're the one getting picked last for the kick ball game.
When I finally had to do some of the movements with a male partner, I got nervous. Not because I like the dude or anything, but because I actually have LOOK AT HIM and PUT MY HANDS ON HIS SHOULDERS. Oh, and get this . . . CLOSE MY EYES. I could have fainted right there and then, or also grabbed my crap and ran out so fast I'd left a little dust cloud. But I didn't. The part of me that wants to run and hide is the part of me that I am every so slowly trying to chisel away at. The part of me that stayed is the part of me I want to be more like on a day to day basis: take a challenge head on. Yes, I'm scared, yes I'm nervous and yes, my hands are getting very sweaty from holding this dudes shoulders, but I'm here and I want to be here. Again, its the music, the movements, that draw me to it. Right now, all I've learned is to "stalk", and walk in small and long strides forward and backward. That's pretty much it. But there is so much more I want to learn. I want to perfect it. I want to rehearse, I want to watch myself over and over and figure out how I could make myself better . . .
One thing I didn't realize even though its a "well duh" moment is that this dance is a social dance, much like all the other dances out there. In my mind, Tango is choreographed. Everyone knows exactly what the other will be doing because its all been rehearsed. That is not the case. So sub-scary part to number two is: touching more strangers at a tango club! Ay!
I think Argentine Tango will really open me up and let me know there is nothing to fear. Why do I even have this fear? I don't know. It's more of a feeling of invasion and uncomfortablity. I don't want it, I really don't. I want to go out onto the dance floor (also the "floor" is a metaphor to "the world") with the attitude of "Yeah, I'm not the best dancer, but I'm good at the little I know and I can learn" rather than "OMIGOD PLEASE DON'T TALK TO ME, BUT I WANT TO DANCE, OH GOD DON'T LOOK AT ME, WHY ISN'T ANYONE ASKING ME TO DANCE!"

So fear #1: Sharks. Well. I don't live in shark infested waters so I think I can put off overcoming that fear for a while.

And fear #2: I'm on my way.