Sunday, January 13, 2008

you're in or you're out of ... the bubble

I'm not talking about the Real Estate bubble that burst. I'm so out of that bubble it wasn't until I saw the word "bubble" that I realized most people would probably associate the bubble with some kind of financial boon. The tech bubble, the real estate bubble, these are not what I am about in any way shape or form. Nope. I'm talking about the tango bubble.

The surge of tango in my life could be likened to a bubble. I found it after I separated from my husband of 18 years, and in this bubble was a magic substance that seemed for a time to fill me with such joy and satisfaction that I was sure it would never end. I was fairly obsessed, though less so than others I've met on the tango path. I only own one pair of tango shoes, because that is all I could afford. I've only taken a few private lessons. I've only ever danced maybe as many as four nights a week, but more often I danced two nights, or a night and an afternoon practica (a practice dance). The bubble lasted a year and a few months.

There were moments when I was very insecure about my dancing, and there were moments when I knew I had the makings of a great milonguera (social dancer). I could feel the dance in my body, taking over every movement, allowing me to sink into something other than the trauma of going through a custody battle, and recovering from an abusive relationship, of being homeless and jobless. Tango may have saved my life. It allowed me to say, "I tango," when others asked me how I kept my courage up.

So, why did it end? It did end, a slow peter out sort of way, but there was a moment when I stepped outside of the bubble of tango. I find it fascinating to recall because I still don't really understand how it shifted so completely internally, but it boils down to this: Love killed tango. How could that be? Isn't tango the most romantic dance in the world? Welllllllll. That's the rub.

Tango, I once heard someone say, is all about unrequited love. The heartache of not having someone you desperately want to have, and only being able to offer this dance, this tanda. It is a secret passion, a love affair in plain sight.

So, I am an utterly satisfied woman in love, and now I have no patience for the world of tango. I didn't even know it was happening until last night.

I have a good friend, God bless him, that I tango with every few weeks, and he increasingly has become the only man I enjoy tangoing with anymore. He is nearly the only man in the scene who knows my lover, who knows where I stand in relationship, and it is a different experience to dance with him because we have fun. Is it unrequited love? No, not exactly. It's fun! It's more about our mutual love for tango than about our feelings for one another. Our affair is with tango itself, and that makes it wonderful. So, last night I went to a dance, a milonga, with him, and we had some great tandas.

But not another man asked me to dance all evening. It was a round rejection by a room full of men who dance the dance I love. I had to wonder as I sat outside the bubble looking in, why I wasn't attracting dances or even friendly conversation for the most part.

I am not an easy wall flower. I like to be out there in the action, but I could not bring myself to accomodate the scene. I realized this has been happening more and more lately. I go to dances and I find I can't play the cabaceo thing, a complicated Latin-style flirtation to attract dances. I feel uncomfortable, as if I'm leading someone on, and can't complete anything with them because I don't even potentially have the capacity to fall in love with them for a dance. Suddenly, I could understand why some of my friends don't want to tango!

Not only that, I can't turn off my own style during a dance anymore. I find I want to express MYSELF not the Lead's request. I know just enough tango to be dangerous to a unsure Lead who can't handle that expression from a Follow. Perhaps in that bubble-time, I didn't have any dreams or desires of my own and that's why it was so good to tango. I don't know. These are all questions I'm pondering nowadays as my life is getting rebuilt around a stronger axis.

The man I love is learning how to tango for me. It is a slow and painful process that could really take years to gel because he travels for work so much, and can't really practice. He also likes to be alone with me, and I with him and so getting out to tango doesn't always rise to the top of our priorities. He knows I love this dance, and submits himself to the horrors of relearning how to walk, and think like a four-legged animal. I want to share the dance with him, but now it gives me pause. Unrequited love is definitely not what we're about.

Last night as I watched couples spin around the floor, feeling miffed about not being included, I thought that they looked like exotic fish in an aquarium. And, though I once had gills, they seem to have turned into lungs. I was outside of their bubble, longing on some level to return, and on another level eager to see where my lungs might take me.

No comments: