I don’t want you to come to me or me to come to you.
Lets meet in the middle.
I first started dancing tango six years ago after seeing Al Pacino dance to Carlos Gardel in Scent of a Woman, “Por Una Cabeza”.
Saudade.The only word that fits to describe the first time I heard tango music, yet it has no direct English translation. In Portuguese it describes a feeling of intense longing, melancholy, and nostalgia for something that was once there. It also describes the feeling of acceptance that this thing is now gone. It is the love that remains.
That is tango.
I’ve always been a nostalgic person - with a reverence for a time that I have never lived in and a longing for the collective memories of those that have lived before me.
As I began to listen to tango music, I would get this high… it felt like my brain was sparkling. I could hear the dimension of the sound created by the violin, the bandoneon, and the piano, and I would get lost in the music. I have never been a musician, or a dancer, or felt like I understood music in any way, but for some reason, this sparked a fire in my mind, and later would in my body.
I started taking classes in my small hippie hometown. There was hardly a tango scene, and all of my peers thought I was strange for wanting to learn such an obscure form of dance. When I started, I forgot about the music and focused on the steps I was learning.
Some years passed and I just danced when I was bored or lonely. It wasn’t until my lover and I started having problems that I began really dancing again.
That’s when I learned about the connection to my partner and where I should put my feet based on where my lead was putting my free leg. In a way I felt submissive while I was dancing…letting this man tell me what to do with my body. I liked it. Maybe it was a reflection of the emotional role in personal life.
Fast forward one year: I leave my unhappy relationship and move to New York City and immediately dive into the tango scene there. I went out by myself, and found confidence in knowing no one, willing to meet everyone. I quickly realized how unprepared I was for this world of professional dancers, and aficionados. I didn’t care. Eventually I would be a part of it.
My friends had a hard time understanding why I would want to go out and dance with strange men and let them hold me as if we were lovers. I myself questioned if I just wanted male attention.
There were so many subtleties surrounding this dance. All of them addressing the male-female interaction.
For years, I thought the follower was at the mercy of the leader- from the invitation to dance, to the dance itself. As I grew into a stronger, and more confident dancer (and a woman), I realized that I had just as much control. I could deny an invitation without excuse, and with my body, I could subtly influence the way my partner and I interpreted the music. I could draw things out, I could accent certain notes, and I could be still. My body was acting as an instrument. It was my instrument. And I was using it to connect to this surge of energy created by the music. My partner was doing the same.
So here we are on the dance floor. Music is blaring. That’s all I know. I close my eyes. We confront each other with our weight. And we meet in the middle. And we dance.
Submitted by Anonymous, Edited by Arianne Keegan