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.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Timing is Everything!

More on The Circle of Tango:

Arlene asks on her blog, instead of why do we quit, why do we love tango? What are the reasons we hang in there when the going gets rough?

I'd just like to say that how one navigates their own personal Circle of Tango has a heck of a lot to do with timing. Checking the stats of Clay's survey, it appears that of those who responded, the majority who quit dancing tango were "older" women, over 45. And finding someone to dance with was their major problem.

It's true that the timing of partner dancing (including finding a dancing partner) must be right. For example, no matter how well someone does a "step," if it's not with the music, it's bad. My idea of hell is to dance with someone who hasn't a clue that he is way outside of the music and is off the beat. Torture for me: do I follow his bad rhythm or do I do what comes naturally and dance on the beat? Good rhythm and timing is #1 for me.

Like many of us in tango, I've been a dancer all of my life: beginning ballet at age 3, continuing on to be a Dance Major at UCLA, directing my own cabaret dance company The Perfumes of Araby, soloist in a large professional international folk dance company--Anthony Shay's AVAZ, teacher of line dancing, student and performer of flamenco in Mexico and Argentina, dance critic in Los Angeles for the Times, the Dance Librarian for Los Angeles Public Library, student and dancer of Argentine tango since 1996, teaching tango in Cuba, and dancing tango in the milongas of Buenos Aires since 1997. So indeed, when I started dancing tango, I too was an "older woman over 45."

In 2005 I met Ruben Aybar and we began teaching together the milonguero style of social tango that is danced in the milongas here.

I think if Ruben and I had met before then--before I was getting bored with all of my various partners in the milongas and how they tended to dance the same way every time with me (Jorge for the Tanturi tanda, Juan for the vals, Juan Carlos for the milonga, Hector for Pugliese, etc.). Although I continued to attend the several milongas where I was a regular, I began to feel that it was all so predictable.

Before this moment, I used to think--and say--that I didn't want to dance with only one person, even if it was Gavito. I wanted a variety of partners to keep me interested and on my toes.

Well, after all of those tango years, it was an epiphany when I first saw Ruben dance at Club Espanol. I could see that he danced like I felt; that he expressed the music in a way that I wanted to. So after two months of staring at him in an attempt at cabeceo, finally we danced for the first time together at Los Consagrados, in March 2005.

Ruben is always inventive, always has a surprise for me, is never boring--and is ALWAYS with the music and on time. Sometimes he dances to the bandoneon, other times to the violin, other times to the piano or the singer. Ruben has a lot of wonderful qualities, but first is his natural sense of rhythm and love of the music. He never dances the same tango/vals/milonga twice. When we do an exhibition, we never practice, because he wants to be spontaneous and dance as he feels to the music at that time.

So because we met when I had almost completed my own personal Circle of Tango, I surprised myself by only wanting to dance with him. For quite a long time I kept my independence by going to the milongas I faithfully attended every week (and he never did)--Canning, Gricel, I don't remember where all. But then I started going later and leaving earlier, with my mind's eye on the entrance, hoping against hope Ruben would walk through the door, even though I knew better. (He used to tease me that he would disguise himself with a fake mustache and sit in the back to keep an eye on me.)

We would meet at Lo de Celia, Club Espanol, and Los Consagrados, where, in order again to keep my independence, we sat separately, across the dance floor.
When we did share a table for special occasions, it was so much fun, so much laughter, that when I was back on my own on the women's side, I was missing him and the great comaraderie.

Finally we decided to sit together, let the codigos go hang. Of course, he as a milonguero, can dance with anyone he cares to. I am perceived as "his property," and out of respect for Ruben, the other milongueros don't invite me to dance.

But you know, that's ok. I occasionally dance with foreign men, and enjoy myself. But I have the most fun dancing with Ruben.

The question remains: if Ruben and I hadn't found each other at just the right moment, when the timing was perfect, when the planets and stars were aligned and my Circle of Tango was just about completed, would I have quit too? Thank goodness this is a rhetorical question.

Unless we have students or clients for milonga accompaniment, Ruben and I go to dance just once a week, at Los Consagrados. We love the salon, the lovely wood floor, the folks who go there without attitude, and always our table of wonderful friends.

I'm where I want to be--in reality, dancing a lot less in milongas than I used to. No more dancing every night, all night. But wherever I am on that big tango roulette wheel, it's a good place to be.


Tango Goddess said...

Too true, Tangocherie! Everyone has his or her own circle of tango. Mine started in the D.C. area, and has pretty much ended here. Maybe I shouldn't say, "Ended." Maybe it´s more like spiraling deeper. When my partner and I dance, we don't stay until the wee hours, and we don't go out every night. We go to touch base with each other in a way that we don't in everyday life. Best to you and Ruben!

Anonymous said...

Hi Cherie,
Thanks for the link.
I think it is very important to remember and focus on the positive rather than the negative, in dancing and in life. It is how we move forward.
I don't have a dance background, but I have always loved to dance. I was a bit of a rock chick in my day! ;-)

Elizabeth said...

Thanks Cherie for sharing a personal story. We dance less too, but with more pleasure, as all the stars line up. Looking forward to seeing you both again at Los Consagrados some Saturday evening.
I don't know when, but in the next year or two.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry, but I have to ask about this line:Like many of us in tango, I've been a dancer all of my life:

Are you including Argentinians in this statement?

tangocherie said...

I guess we all agree that it's quality and not quantity that's important!

Anon, I absolutely include Argentines in my generalization: for example, Ruben grew up dancing--cumbia, folklore, and was a rock and roll champion--but it was only 25 years ago that he began to dance tango seriously.

Most Argentine tango dancers who I know here in BsAs have always danced something before tango.