After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Tango Epiphany in Buenos Aires

-- passage to a secret world where senses collide

From RunCarolineRun on the Tango-L, 11,11,06:

I've realized that what I thought I knew about tango, I actually didn't know
at all. Have only been here five days but have already gone to several milongas (Gricel, Nino Bien, Salon Canning, Confiteria Ideal). The first two days, I was absolutely terrified to jump in and dance because I felt so incompetent in comparison to the locals. Then one afternoon, I forced myself to go to Confiteria Ideal, on my own.

I danced non-stop with one porteno after another. One lovely man, who noticed that I was a bit stiff (jetlag, oncoming cold, blisters) said to me in broken English, "close your eyes and sleep". And so I did, I closed my eyes and in this dreamlike state, felt as though my partner was telling me a poetic story through his body, his dancing, his tight embrace. I've never experienced anything like that in my life. My entire body felt as though I had just imbibed a glass of wine and thus was relaxed from its liquid in my veins.

It was as though I'd been given passage to a secret world where senses collide in the form of tango.

It seems so silly now, how obsessive I was about getting the steps right, back home in my hometown. Tango is about the music. Each nuance of each movement is a response to a note in the song. The portenos hold you in close till you are forehead to forehead, cheek to cheek, chest to chest, and with all those connection points, it's almost impossible to make a mistake, for when you follow their leads, you do so not with thought but with instinct, like breathing.

And now Iºm already feeling sad because I know that this experience may never be again replicated when I go home unless I get lucky enough to dance with men who are either Argentine or who had learned the tango here in

Last night, at Salon Canning, there was a busload of tourists pouring into the milonga. I almost winced to see how out of place they seemed with their awkward open embrace, or overly fanciful steps. All I could think to myself was they just don't get it,

When you look at the locals, they are calm, beatific, confident. They do not need to step on every single note. They know how to put as much into a pause as they do into a step. The tourists seemed almost trying too hard to impress upon others that they know what they are doing while completely missing the point.

The dance floor was very crowded and yet all the portenos danced together in a perfect flow. It was the tourists dancing with each other that were disrupting the flow, or hurting others by kicking up their heels. Kudos to the Argentines for their gracious and benign tolerance.

I had heard that in BsAs, it's not about knowing all this advanced tango stuff, it's about the music, about your partner, it's about translating how the music affects you through your body to your partner. Here, my dancing improved so naturally fast because my mindset shifted from doing the steps properly to closing my eyes and "sleep".

There aren't any words to describe the bliss I'm feeling right now.

Thanks, Caroline from Montreal, you describe it perfectly!

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