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?
(This post is part 2 of the preceding, The Circle of Tango.)
And 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.
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, co-directing a cabaret dance company, The Perfumes of Araby, soloist in a large professional international folk dance company, Anthony Shay's AVAZ, teacher of line dancing, choreographer of musical shows for amateur groups, student and performer of flamenco in Mexico and Argentina, Dance Librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library, dance critic in Los Angeles for the Times, student and dancer of Argentine tango since 1996, teaching tango in Cuba, and dancing tango in the milongas of Buenos Aires since 1997. 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, Osvaldo for the milonga, Hector for Pugliese, etc.), I might not have been "ready" for him. Although I continued to attend the several milongas where I was a regular every week, I began to feel that it was all just 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 these years, I saw Ruben dancing at Club Español. I could see that he danced like I felt; that he expressed the music with his body in a way that I wanted to. So after two months of staring at him in an attempt at cabeceo, finally we danced at Los Consagrados, in early 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 is a lot of wonderful things, 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. Which makes is always interesting to me.
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 where I always went (and he never did)--Canning, Gricel, I don't remember where all. Soon I started going later and leaving earlier, with my mind's eye on the entrance, hoping against hope Ruben would come that day, even though I knew better. He used to tease me that one night he'd come with a fake mustache to spy on me (right, no one would know him then), but I was disappointed that he never did.
We would meet at Lo de Celia, Club Español, 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 camaraderie.
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 have a good time enjoying their styles and different tango. But then I am happy once again to be in Ruben's embrace, especially when the music is Miguel Calo.