In January 2008, A stood for Arguments concerning tango. I didn’t go into the times we yelled at each other about it, but I did raise the subject of our differing tango cultures right here, where I would like to draw your attention to point 5, which on Friday night at La Milonguita in Colegiales, accompanied by lots of smiles, winks and joy, finally became our position B:
…go to the Milonga together but ask to be seated separately, then both the woman and man are free to practice the ‘cabeceo’ as if solo, and will be able to dance with many partners as well as with each other during the evening…
Actually we went one better than that: C. arrived two hours before me, sat with the tangueros; I turned up when I was ready, fanned myself with the tangueras; we cabeceo-ed each other for our favourite music; we cabeceo-ed others; we shared a special bond of knowing that we were together, and yet free to dance with whom ever we pleased; we walked home down Avenida Cabildo, hand in hand and giggling like teenagers.
I suspect some of you will be wondering what the hell I am banging on about. When I lived in the UK and danced tango in the UK, I could never have imagined being a part of this little tale. I am sure that C. would not have imagined being a part of this little tale either. Neither of us could have envisaged we would ever even arrive arguing at starting point A, two tango souls from two tango cultures a chasm apart. Over a year ago, as it sunk in that there even was a position A, I was still getting my head around the possibilities offered up by position B, which seemed strange beyond belief.
In that same post back in January 2008 I also wrote:
…I can’t honestly imagine going as far as sitting separately…
and I couldn’t. My open minded British tango heart wanted to dance with C. and with strangers all in the same night. His Argentine tango heart was not keen. Plus the whole sitting separately thing just seemed odd to my British brain. I felt confused and couldn’t ever imagine us at position B. I decided to stop arguing and surrender to time, and the fact that with that time we would understand each others cultures a little better and find our own solution… Perhaps, I accepted, we will never arrive at B, and if we don’t it’s OK. I danced alone in the afternoons and that satisfied my need for tango with strangers, but at night, he came with me and my friends, or we did the couple thing. That was position A minus the Arguments.
- Between position A minus the Arguments and B a few things happened: In March 2008, I took C. to some Milongas in the UK and he saw that in Hampshire at least, we all sit together (well, actually on chairs around the walls, but that’s another story) and dance with each other: married or not, engaged or not, boyfriends or not, girlfriends or not… and hell, he adored the fact that he had ‘his chicas’ (as he still calls you wonderful girls to this day) asking him to dance! He also saw that we all go home with our own partners or to our own partners (on the whole, anyway).
- In November 2008, a fabulous visiting tanguera who sells Greta Flora tango shoes in Canada started taking me out at night when she was in town. We left C. at home, and to my surprise, instead of raising his eyebrows, he showed signs of being grateful (I am sure that as the months pass it must get rather boring being dragged out with every one of your girlfriend’s English speaking friends, especially when you have to get up early the next day and go install a gas system). When the tanguera left Buenos Aires, I started joining my other mates out on the town too. Not every night – no, no, no. Just now and again. I confess that at first it was a pretty weird feeling, sliding into bed at 5am and curling myself around a sleeping C. and in truth there was a slight feeling of morning after treading on eggshells, but before long we were in the groove of it. Nothing bad happened. We both saw that nothing bad happened. We relaxed.
- One night we did sit separately, at my suggestion, at Cachirulo. It was a disaster. We were so far apart in the crowd that we could barely cabeceo each other without standing up and signalling like crazed traffic policemen. That was the night I managed two tandas in five hours for a whole host of reasons. I know the photo in that post proves I was smiling as I danced merengue with C., but I’m not sure he was, and I honestly thought that it was probably the nail in the coffin in terms of us ever reaching position B.
- C. went off tango a bit. Work stuff, life stuff, years of tango… desire ebbs and flows. His ebbed for a while. I became more accustomed to girls nights out. Me off with friends suited us both, though I missed dancing with ‘mi amor’ mucho. Occasionally he joined us and he danced with my friends, but I saw his heart was not in tango as it once had been. Patience, I thought, Let the universe decide.
Out of the blue, a week ago, C. announced to me that he wanted to start dancing again and that he was thinking that he needed to dance with a variety of women: This summer I want to dance with ‘mis chicas’ in Inglaterra and I don’t want to be out of practice, he said.
Honestly, you girls from Southampton and its surrounds who are reading this in England, he said that!
If I had been sitting on one, I probably would have fallen off my chair. Bloody hell! wonders never cease! I thought, but I said calmly, Great, mi amor, that’s great. Where will you go?
He chose La Milonguita: local, friendly, familiar. I suggested turning up later. Let’s experiment, I said to him in a Barbie moment of enthusiasm, Maybe it’ll be fun. He was in such an upbeat mood, longing to dance, his passion for tango back. Yes, he said, Let’s do it!
And so, last Friday, we arrived, unexpectedly, gently and easily at position B.
…sitting separately at the Milonga…
OK, there were some odd aspects to B: we couldn’t share a meal at the same table; we could only chat between tangos in a tanda (possibly for the first time I was truly grateful for those pauses in dancing); we had to make sure we cabeceo-ed each other fast and/or avoid everyone else for our favourite music; I had a Bugger, why isn’t he looking at me for the vals? moment.
There were some wonderful aspects to B too: as I watched him, smart and proud, hair slicked back, sipping his cortado in his front row seat, I loved him more than ever; as the milonga thinned out, we danced more tandas together – we’d had our taste of strangers and it was reassuring to slip into each other’s arms; as I danced the last tanda with him, I was overwhelmed by the thought that gifting another person freedom, encourages love.
So here we are in April 2009, at B. And basically we got there by taking the Argument out of A and letting time do the rest. Rather exciting isn’t it, when you stop trying to force something and hand it over… hey, the universe can even manage to work a few miracles with tango, two diverse tango cultures, a Porteño and an Inglesa!
Of course I am well aware that position B is really only the beginning.
And I can’t help wondering what the next installment in this little tale will be. Mmmmmmmm… think I’ll leave that to the universe too.
Meanwhile I’m off to Maldita Milonga with a friend 😉