08 August 2009

The first time I danced with a "Stranger"

When I first learned tango, it was with Mrs. Ampster. She was my permanent partner. We practiced together, we got good together, we progressed together. I was one of the fortunate ones to have had a partner who shares the same interest.

When we were still learning, we normally attended group classes where you shift partners. Ok, this was class, that was normal, I guess. This experience was my first exposure to different partners. We were all beginners learning in open embrace. No big deal.

After a few months, Mrs. Ampster and I started going to milongas. I'd like to think we were getting good. At least, Mrs. Ampster was. She was getting asked to dance a lot.

I on the other hand, I was to too terrified to ask anyone else. I think it was fear of rejection over anything else. My "fragile" ego would not survive a trouncing...

On one particularly bland milonga evening where dancing was sparse with the evening's ambience dead. A beautiful blond lady came up from behind me and asked...

"Would you like to dance with me?"

I gasped, turned around and said,

"I would love to."

What the hell am I doing!!??
This the monologue of my brain in turmoil that followed:

OMG, What the hell am I doing?

That's OK, we can make this work.

Here's my left arm. Oh good she took it

Here she comes!

Oh no, her arm just went over my shoulder, Gaaah! Close embrace!

I can't move.

These are NOT my wife's boobs!

Breathe, breathe, breeeeaaaatheee

My heart's racing. Relax, relaaaxxxx, breaaaaathe in annnnd ouuuut

When's the music going to start? Oh, it already began...

Now what!? I can feel HER breathing! She's alive!

Ok, calm down. Think of what your teacher taught you

Keep it simple, keep it simple... and, walk, walk, pause... pause... ocho aaaaand boleo

Hey, this works! Let's walk some more. Just walk, keep walking...

Listen to the music, syncopate, rhythm, follow the beat....

I'll stop talking to myself now...

That was the first time I had REALLY danced with a stranger. I was amazed at how well it worked. I kept it simple. After I had gotten over the initial shock, I was able to think clearly. After which, I had enough confidence in myself to just let go. It was one of the very first tango epiphanies I've had.

It was an eye opening, and magnificently liberating experience.


Anonymous said...

"Those are NOT my wife's boobs"

You just slayed me. What a fabulous post Ampster. It is so real, and hilarious. That very first epiphany is quite transformational. I will never forget my first embrace either :-)

Elizabeth Brinton said...

WE know, Ampster, you are soooo shy.

Frances R said...

Thanks for writing. This is funny and endearing at the same time. Reminded me about one new student in a class I was going to. The teacher asked to try a move in close embrace, and I just did, without a second thought. To my surprise, the guy completely freaked out! I had to retreat promptly.
It was a couple of years ago, and let me tell you, the fellow has become an excellent tango dancer.

msHedgehog said...

If there's one thing a gentleman can get from tango, it's a calm and matter-of-fact attitude to boobies. ;)

Anonymous said...

@mshedgehog - why force oneself to lose the joy and become matter-of-fact?

that's like saying one should become matter-of-fact and calm abput chocolate, or butterflies, or newborn babies!