Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Did Tango steal my boyfriend?

I was 4 months into tango when I met Jeff. I knew he didn't dance but that was ok; just as long as he was opened to giving it a try. He was a musician who loved tango music, so that was a good start. Our third date was at a beginners tango workshop, which I'd taken before but didn't mind refreshing what I had already learned. With lots of praise, he marched on, step by more awkward step. He was stiff as a board but I was impressed by his bravery and open mind. I talked him into taking a beginner class with me, telling him it'd be a great way to get to know each other and tango is a great skill to have for a man because women dig it. Till this day, I am still not sure which part was the real motivator. I encouraged Jeff to keep up the good work and he was pleased with his progress. He would grab me to practice with him every chance he had...whether it's at the dance studio, on subway platform or the supermarket. He even rearranged the furniture in my studio appartment to create more space.

It took him a good 8 weeks to finally learn to walk with his chest first, instead of his feet; I'm lucky I still have all my toes. My impatience grew with every misstep. I was starting to feel like he was "using me for my body." I must have done the basic 8 steps a million times. But the more resentful I felt, the more guilty I felt. Why doesn't he understanding this is not enjoyable for me? Look at him... he's so happy to be dancing with me... it was I, after all, who started this whole madness.

With the strong desire to take my dancing to the next level and to start my tango shoes collection, I decided it was time to plan a trip to Buenos Aires. I mentioned it to Jeff, even though I didn't think he'd want to go because we'd only been dating for a short time. To my surprise, he accepted without any hesitation, "Sure, I would love to tango in Buenos Aires!!!" I was happy to have a travel partner, even though I had some concerns. I'd heard that it's difficult for beginner male dancers to get dances there; so I knew I had my work cut out for me.

Our very first milonga in Buenos Aires was a place called X. Our enthusiasm quickly faded as soon as we realized everyone there were advance dancers. Everywhere we looked .... expertly executed boleos, ganchos, colgadas, volcadas and on the last beat of each song, everyone stopped and posed in unison. We sat there watching for a while, before I heard the dreaded 5 words "Do you want to dance?" I knew that Milonga was way out of my league and the thought of dancing with a toe stomping beginner was enough to give me heartburn. So I closed eyes and clicked my ruby red heels three times then waited......hmmm, nothing; I was still far from home. So I swallowed my gum along with my pride, glued on a smile, then walked him to the center of the dance floor and prayed no one would notice us.

We both took on private teachers while we were in town. I noticed he grew especially fond of his.... inviting her to coffee after each lesson; he claimed it was so he could practice his Spanish. It was definitely a more assertive and flirtatious side of Jeff I hadn't seen before. She gave him homework and he practiced religiously everyday, with and without my help. And when he didn't blink twice buying a $300 pair of custom made tango shoes... I knew I had created a monster! My obsession became his.... our entire relationship had been built on tango grounds. Did he agree to go to Buenos Aires with me .... or was it with Tango herself???

When we returned back to New York, I decided to test out my newly acquired skills and signed up for my first Intermediate tango class and a milonga. Jeff showed up unexpectedly toward the end of the class. Before the milonga started, he pulled me aside and asked me to sit down. That's when he broke the news, right between class and milonga...... he said it, "I want to date other people." then thanked me profusely for introducing him to tango. I wished them both luck, cause lord knows he's going to need it. Needless to say, I never made it to the milonga that night. I took my bruised heart and dance shoes home instead for a good cry.
I received an email from Jeff later that week... staking his claim to the Monday night milonga.

Ironic.... but did Tango steal my boyfriend???

: (

Monday, June 25, 2007

Drug Pushers

Ok... so you've watched too many episodes of Dancing with the Stars. You've been seduced by the sexy images... so much so that you can no longer hide your secret desire to be one of those dancing divas. So you search online for the closest dance school and sign up for one of those "introductory offers", which includes a 30 minute private lesson. You're nervous... you're a tango virgin. There he is... strolls in with that unmistakably smooth tango walk ... he smiles and takes you in his embrace and whispers "Let's just dance, shall we?... I want you to feel..." I will always trace the obsession back to that very moment. Never danced a step of tango in my life... and there I was responding to his every lead... I was his puppet and he's pulling all the strings... miraculously moving my feet. So You catch yourself dancing in the mirror and can't hardly recognize yourself. "Is that me?" "Are those my feet?" He tells you..."You are such a natural!"... "Are you sure you've never danced before??"... "You definitely have what it takes!"... and "You're going to be one hot tango dancer!"
By that point... you are so high, you've forgotten your name. You are now Lola ...the smoking, sexy, gorgeous tanguera extraordinaire. The lesson ends with you still in a tango haze. Aha! he knows he's got you.... because he's now holding the appt book and class schedule in his hand. Warning: Tango is a drug and tango teachers are the drug pushers. Now that you've had a taste of it... you want, no you NEED more of it. All the reservations you had about spending money on dance lessons goes out the window. All I can remember thinking was...."here, take my money... take it, take it all!!!... just give me my tango!" A star is born... or so you hope because you've just taken a chunk out of your savings signing up for their "Introductory Package" with the whole sha-bang... private lessons, group classes.... oh and those dance socials you use to make fun of because you once thought only your parents would go to.
Yep... tango is fun, go for it! Just remember once you step into that room with the "drug pusher"... there's no turning back.
Tango is one costly addiction!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Under the "influence"

It was one of the very first milongas I was brave enough to attend alone. I strapped on my black suede tango shoes and gathered the courage to look up at the room full of people. And there he was... looking straight at me from the other end of the dance floor. An attractive man in his 40's with a sexy mysterious smile and dark brown eyes so penetrating that I can still feel them. He gave me the cabeceo and I responded with a nod. I waited in place as I watched him make his way towards me. Without breaking from our gaze, he raised his left hand inviting me into his embrace... I melted into him as if I've always belonged there. I closed my eyes and took in his musky scent; masculine and exotic. We both took a deep breath and took our very first step into tango oblivion. He moved with precision and confidence...I became the brush in the hands of an artist. I realized then that I've never surrendered myself so completely to a total stranger before. We must have danced for over an hour without speaking much, other than a few exchange of words in between dances. He was a writer visiting from the Netherlands. It was his last night in NYC and he was heading to Boston for the next two weeks before flying back home. When the milonga ended, he told me he felt very fortunate to have met me and politely asked if I'd mind that he wrote me. (what? If I would mind??) I tried to contain the excitement in my reply..."Sure, here's my email address", before floating away with a big smile on my face.

We started corresponding through email that week.....couldn’t wait to learn more about each other. Before we knew it, emails turned into phone calls. We'd talk for hours each night...I was falling in love..... his voice, his silence.. breathing on the other end. The day before he was supposed to fly home, it was decided. As crazy as it was, we had to see each other in the flesh. He rescheduled his flight and I got on the next train to Boston. Thoughts were racing through my mind. Oh the distance! What if it was an illusion? What if the magic belonged to that night only and should have been left on the dance floor?? Maybe the allure was just the mystery of this perfect 3 minute love affair? Is it a mistake to think that it could be achieved in real life?

As I was approaching Boston, I had thousands, no, millions of butterflies in my stomach. I couldn’t get there fast enough, at the same time my steps felt heavier than ever. What was about to happen? I was anxious and afraid to find out. I spotted his blue shirt before his eyes found me. The last steps were the hardest. He smiled and reached out to hold me. In his arms again, this time standing on the train platform, I knew right there and than it wasn't him all along.... it was the arms of tango I had fallen in love with. I held in my disappointment while we chatted over a few drinks, then caught the next train back to New York. Lesson learned... objects may appear larger than life, when you're under the "influence".
Until the next encounter.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rickety Roller Coasters

Malena and I went to a Milonga last night at a local Italian restaurant. The room was more crowded than usual, although it still consisted mostly of older couples. We took a table near the dance floor. We toasted to our addiction with a glass of white, while we inconspicuously scoped out the room for potential partners, or just men closer to our age. There were a total of two competent tangueros on the floor but unfortunately they had brought their own tangobabes. Hmmm I thought.... maybe he'll grow bored eventually and seek out new flesh to cleanse his palate...kind of like lemon sorbet but definitely not as tart. The first man approached our table... hmm i recognized him, he's that guy from Sunday's outdoor milonga. Who seemed to have three steps to his dance vocabulary, and rhythm was not one of them. Phewww!.... he turns to Malena, who's never dance with him before. I gave her a look of sympathy and part relieve, as he escorted her to the floor. Being somewhat new to the scene, guess we tangueras must endure the arduous task of weeding out the men who can dance and the ones who really shouldn't. The highlight of my evening was dancing with Charlie, a feisty man in his late 60's, early 70's. I was excited he showed up because I knew a dance with him would be anything but boring. We met at a milonga two weeks ago. Thats where it happened. During the third song of our first tanda, he whispered in my ear... "just hold on." All I can remember was I was in the midst of an ocho, and a split second later I was in an upside down tango pose. He held me there for a few seconds... long enough to see the faces staring back at me. To my surprise, I was not at all angry with him. Sometimes tango is like a rollercoaster ride.... you have the slow climb that builds with anticipation...and then the inevitable climax as the musical crescendos unite your heart and your feet. Charlie is like one of those old rickety rollercoasters in Corney Island. You have an eerie feeling the car could fall apart at any moment but there's just something bizarrely thrilling about it. Lesson # 1..... "must wear shorts under skirts"