My four-inch tango stilettos have gathered a fair bit of dust over the last several years. So, I was nervous last week when I strapped in for a night out on Portland’s notoriously rad tango scene.
I had no idea what to wear on the non-feet parts of my body. Pants? Skirt? Dress? How tight is too tight? My friend Angela helped me develop this easy guide: VPL (visible pubes lump) = too tight. Noted. Caftan it is!
Despite my nerves, I had a fantastic time. I eventually relaxed enough to focus on details like, for example, adequate oxygen intake. When I’m tense, I have a tendency to hold my breath, and then I end up doing this panicked, wheezy panting thing directly into my partner’s ear. Yes. Well. Tango IS the most sensual of the dances.
I’m trying to revisit and devote time to the things that have become part of my identity over the years. The hard part is finding a healthy balance with all of the other things that are important to me. Tango is only a part of my identity, after all. Please consult this handy chart for reference:
In my early 20s, I was obsessed with tango. A night not spent dancing was a night wasted. I wanted to be the best. I pushed hard. I burned out. I wanted balance. So, I got married and stopped dancing entirely.
Riiiiiight. OK, so maybe that was a bit too far in the opposite direction. Moderation has never been my strong suit. She says, vigorously resisting slipping into a juice fast-induced coma.
I returned to tango in my mid 20s. However, I only made time to dance once — maybe twice — a week. This did not jibe with my simultaneous desire to be one of the ultimate-extreme-badass-stiletto-wearing-gazelle-type-dance-goddesses.
In my late 20s, I danced sporadically. My attitude was basically, if I’m not going to be the best, what’s the point? Add a relationship with a non-tango dancer, and it was pretty easy to let the whole thing slide. (Side note: Being in a relationship with a tango dancer doesn’t necessarily make things easier. It’s a different set of problems. Namely, being in a relationship with a dancer.)
Where does that leave me in terms of work/life/love/boogie balance? Some considerations:
The good: I spent one blissful New Year’s holiday in the Netherlands for a 36-hour tango marathon. I danced with folks from all over the world. It’s really a beautiful thing to connect with another person without the benefit of a shared language. It may be the sleep-deprivation talking, but that experience was fucking primo. A highlight of both my tango and non-tango life.
The bad: I have actually had another human being’s sweat in my mouth. As I recall, my head was positioned under my partner’s chin, and he’d worked up an abundant man sheen. To my horror, I felt a juicy droplet fall on my forehead. It slowly rolled down between my eyes. I shook my head to fling it away from my face region. But it only rolled faster toward the tip of my nose. I curled my lips to blow some air upward, forcing the drop back. He probably wondered if I was having some sort of localized head seizure. And it was all for naught. That sweatball rolled right onto my curled lips and INTO. MY. MOUTH.
In between those two ends of the tango spectrum, there is great music, lively conversation, community, real connection and opportunities for self-expression. And I don’t need to be the best dancer on the block to enjoy those things.