“Hey, did you know that I asked Tommy to teach me Argentine Tango?” I eagerly told a friend a while back. “You’re learning Argentine Tango?” he asked. “Yeah,” I replied, still smiling happily. His tone became frank, “I don’t know how you’ll do it. I mean, increased physical contact makes you uncomfortable.” An “alright” was all I could get out, not really knowing what else to say. That stung a bit. But he was a friend, so I brushed it off. What I wish I would’ve said in that moment was “Challenge accepted,” with a big grin on my face.
That’s how I’ve always reacted to someone’s challenge. I instantly want to try it just to prove them wrong. Then, my rational side takes over and says, “Challenge yourself in order to become better. Don’t do it just to avenge your ego. That’s petty and stupid. Do it for you.” The rational side is right, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use his words as an extra motivator to pull through. Tango Argentino is a challenge, both technically and personally. It’s a completely different dance from its ballroom counterpart. And my friend was right, more intimate physical contact did make me uncomfortable. Notice the past tense?
I have never been—and still am not—a physically affectionate person. I will gladly give you a hug if you want one, but I’m probably not going to be the one to initiate it. My mother is the same way. We both show love in our actions towards other people, but that’s different from a fear of physical touch. I could point to several things and tell you what I think caused it, but that’s not the point. Dancing has been such an immense blessing because it helped me conquer that fear. It continually pushes me to go beyond my boundaries. For example, when I first started dancing Ballroom Tango, I didn’t like the fact that I had to dance so close to my teacher. I became even more chagrined when I found that the proper connection for the left hand was under the man’s right arm in a “hook”, practically in his armpit. When I began dancing in closed position with Nick, I constantly thanked God that my complexion was dark. Blushes don’t show as easily on darker surfaces. It was only through more dancing that I realized the beauty of physical unity a dancer has with his or her partner. It should be embraced, not shunned.
Speaking of embrace, why did I want to learn Tango Argentino? One, I was curious, a more social form of Ballroom Tango? Two, my inner tigress growled pleasurably when I found out it was more sensual than its counterpart, much to my dominant half’s embarrassment. I took a group class when it was offered but found it frustrating, so mentally tucked it away. That is until I saw Luis Bravo’s “Forever Tango”. A feast for the eyes and ears, my inner tigress came to surface and persuaded me to be bold. Shortly after, I asked Tommy to teach me “just for fun”. Actually, that isn’t the whole reason. Mostly, I wanted to learn how to flirt through acting. What? Why are you looking at me like that? I am very much a woman, but I’m single and physically reserved. Dance is a healthy way to release the feelings with the sweat. Second, Tango Argentino presents a distinct challenge. It’s an international dance, so I have to begin with my left foot forward, rather than my right foot back. It also builds trust between partners because the man has to physically move the woman to her position. When I think of following, the man does initiate, but the woman is still responsible for her movement. Dances like Waltz have an “I-go-you-go” feel to them. In TA, the woman does not move until the man decides to place her. That’s the largest challenge. Well it’s accepted, here I come!
P.S.: This post is longer because I’m leaving for Spring Break tomorrow. I’ll be gone for a week. Tango Argentino is my latest dancing obsession, so the plan for the next post is to go more in-depth into its character.