Seattle, WA is a beautiful, small, yet sophisticated city with the best of most everything.
Its tango community emulates that model and has been blessed with dedicated tango people who have established several new milongas this last year. You can literally go to a practica, or a milonga every day of the week.
I had lots of choices, and I availed of the opportunity whenever I could. Eventually, even a good thing can be too much. My beloved Mrs. Ampster got a little burned out and took a tango sabbatical. That's a good thing as everyone needs to hit the reset button every once in a while. Myself on the other hand, had a different effect...
Splitting the population
Seattle is a hotbed of fanatical, dedicated, and beautiful tango dancers, both milonguero and nuevo alike. However, it has an Achilles heel—The population is not particularly big. Considering that it really takes time to develop good tango dancers, quality growth of the community can be slow.
With this scenario, the laws of supply and demand take over. You have the Seattle tango people diversifying the milongas they go to, thus splitting the population. On one hand, it gives impetus for the community to build and mentor new tango dancers to keep everything going. On the other, without any community growth, some milongas will have to fold. Only time will tell.
Getting off the motorcycle
The effect on myself by this conundrum is that I suddenly find my regular partners missing. In the past, I literally would dance almost every tanda for the duration of the milonga—There are so many friends to dance with. With the splitting of the population, regular partner numbers are diminished. However, it is not particularly a bad thing as I also see new faces. I explore new partners regardless of skill level. It's a great exercise in diversification.
I tried to diversify with my newly found tango friends at my usual pace. It was like riding a motorcycle at speed through mountain passes. There was so much going on all at once, while trying to be smooth and not crash. It's intense. It's furious. It went on for the duration of the tanda—For a few months.
I got tired eventually, and decided to get off my tango motorcycle for a while. I didn't dance as much as I did. The experience was like getting off my motorcycle and enjoy walking through the mountain meadow to enjoy the breeze and the flowers. Things were no longer passing by at a high speed blur.
Appreciating the tango of others
I sit and watch the dancers that pass in front of me. I scrutinize their embrace. I watch as she closes her eyes, feeling the warmth of the embrace and sensing the lead. They move fluidly. They move beautifully. I see some leads do things that are so simple, yet magnificent. I see women extend their legs in long elegant lines as they walk back. I see some women's hand raise as a gesture of feeling the music and the dance.
I watch leaders move in syncopated rhythm. I watch them cast the tango spell on their willing partners. I see different placements for the leaders left arm. Some high, some head level, some low. One even did the scorpion looking high looped arm thing—bizarre. All worked for their purpose and style.
In one tanda, I even saw my own tango development... All at once. There were dancers that represented my own tango evolution.
There were awkward beginners trying out their newly memorized steps–I was once one of them. There was the guy who who tries to teach a hapless newbie and block traffic in the fast lane–I was once this loathsome creature. There was the flashy nuevo guy who tried to do all his fancy stuff–Me at one time. There was the salonisti who danced in a "V" embrace and the milonguero who danced squarely in full contact with their partner–I too have gone these routes. Fascinating!
Its nice getting off my tango motorcycle and savoring the sights of the milonga for a change. Someday, I'll ride at full speed again—maybe.
P.S. That's really me on my motorcycle