It started out as a crush from afar. From my living room couch, actually. I was flipping through TV channels until I came upon a film starring one of my favorite actors playing a man who has opted out of life. Until, that is, he dances the tango with a sweet, young thing.
Not the rose-in-the–teeth, head-jerking, jumping and kicking brand of tango I’d seen in other movies, though. This one was sensual and deep and seemed to burn right through to the core. The transformation of the character was palpable and immediate, and I wanted to experience the same kind of transformation.
From pickup line to lifeline.
Some time later, a tall man with a Latin accent and the devil in his eyes approached me at a party.
“Come, I teach you to tango,” he said.
A few private lessons with him later, I was head over heels. Not with the man, with the dance.
Eight years in, the tango and I are still going strong. Because every set of dances with each partner is a lovely and complete relationship unto itself. Except in most cases, it’s minus the heartbreak.
The pleasure of each other’s company.
It usually begins with the cabeceo, an invitation and an RSVP, signaled by way of a nod. Then the couple moves toward each other until they’re chest-to-chest in a close embrace. The leader takes a step and the follower, well, follows. From there, the two continue to enjoy each other’s company while they walk to the music together in this close embrace.
A truly healthy relationship.
Tango is good for more than just the calf muscles. It’s good for the endorphins, as well. Though the music may be melancholic, the lyrics filled with unfulfilled longing, after a few twirls around the dance floor with my partner, my smile muscles always manage to get a good workout.
You may have heard that the tango is complex, and think you would never be able to learn. But I can tell you firsthand, if you can walk, you can tango. Doing it well, however, that’s another story. To become a milonguera—where you feel the music in your soul and express it in total harmony with your partner—that, they say, takes a lifetime and a half. But why rush? Getting there is so heavenly.