My first Argentinian milonga (social dance) experience was at Gricel, a local milonga that attracts over two hundred fellow tangueros and no tourists.
I was brought along by Brigit, who was my accommodation hostess. This is a big deal for a foreigner to be at a local Spanish speaking milonga. I felt so important as I sat at her table in the FIRST row. I felt like I was in the VIP section. In tango paradise it is hard for a foreign woman to get a dance as local tangueros have their special, regular partners. Leaders (that is men) treat women as adornments and they look for good dancers to make them look good.
I had resigned myself to watch and soak up the atmosphere with my Chandon champers. (side note….bottled in Argentina and it tastes exactly the same as you purchase in Australia) Only a beginner leader would take a chance on me or an ageing, ageing old man. It took the latter to break me into my first dance. Yes he was frail, yes he smelt old but he had rhythm. I quickly picked up his signals, the look to move there, the faint shift of shoulder to change direction. I felt like a feather responding to wind currents as we waltzed around the floor. I was out and like a bee to a honeypot they came. I felt 20 again, well I was at least 15-20 years their junior! Not all were geriatrics, I had the most amazing milonga (quick fast paced dance) with a guy who thought he was Pablo Veron. Then there was the bryl cream guy who saved me from using my make-up removal, and the old old suave one who was eying me off with his arms around another woman!
After Pablo Veron, Brigit asked me “what did that feel like for you?” I came to my senses with a thud.
I was anticipating, no wanting, Brigit to make a comment on my style, or HOW long have you been dancing? FEEL like…..do you mean “Anne your dancing LOOKED great!” What’s happened to me! Tango is about FEELING. I’ve squirmed a seismic massive leave pass to be here, I’ll have a drought of leave for the rest of my life, and here I was in tango heaven dancing for compliments?
Brigit’s friend Virginia, piped in with her two sense worth and we had a powwow on the FEELINGS that he evoked in me. Not the usual debrief on how he could not lead, or had no rhythm, leading to the sucking vortex of what can be best or in most cases, worst described as pure female bitchiness…..straight jacket embrace, flabby tummy or firm muscles, halitosis, face hair, aftershave, back hair, posture or ear hair. Instead we oohed, aahed and compared notes on the connection, the spontaneity of our movements, and the colliding of musical interpretation.
The Mindfulness Lesson
Once I had let go of how I looked, I realised it is how you feel that matters. Mindfulness helps you to be aware of the “senseless” thinking mind. To check-in with your alter-ego and shift out of your head and into the felt sense of your body. Isn’t it more important to dance to the rhythm of your own drum and be present to the moment of experience, rather than be caught up in trying to impress others and missing the felt moment of experience?
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