Photo by John Fernando (ZTM 2013)
I had been dancing for about 1,5-2 years then. I attended my favourite milonga once a week, took classes, and had reasonably recently started travelling to big tango events. I felt the happiest ever, and I loved everything associated with tango.
Life was goooooood.
My friends used to make fun of my tango face: that was a clear face of pure bliss: closed eyes, expression of complete elevation and some other-worldly experiences.
I remember my teacher once coming up and saying to me: “Enjoy this time. You are having the best time of you tango-life right now, enjoy it. In the future, it won't be the same”.
And I thought, what nonsense! In the future I'll be dancing more, better, with better dancers, travel more, my feet will get used to high heels, people will see the potential in me, and things can only get better.
I wish I had paid attention to his words!
Yes, as the future was coming, I was getting better, travelled more, became known among international dancers, got invited to more events, danced more...
And as the time went, more frustrations came. Suddenly I had less and less dancers who excited me in my hometown milongas. Then even the advanced class became boring. So I stopped coming to classes. I started to travel even more, to get that same bliss and kick with dancers from all over Europe. At first, I danced with almost everyone who invited me at marathons, because I would only get the “high” if I danced non-stop. Besides, almost everyone felt like an amazing dancer. I was still having fun.
And then I became pickier and pickier. Choosing my dances, selecting best partners I could get. Yes, when dances were happening, they were blissful, but I was altogether dancing a lot less. And it was frustrating.
So what am I trying to say here?
TAKE YOUR TIME.
No matter what level you are, whether you have just started your tango journey or you're a very experienced dancer, take your time. Tango is a patient business, and biggest rewards come to those who treat it with determination and patience. Enjoy every moment you have, because there will not be a moment like this in the future. If there is something special happening now in your tango-life, indulge in it! Enjoy your classes, because one day you'll get bored with them. Appreciate your teacher, because some day you will leave him/her. Feel happiness of dancing with your favourite dancers, because some day you might stop dancing with them, or they with you. Feel the exhilaration of doing your first boleos and ganchos, because soon you'll stop (either enjoying them, or using them altogether). Oh the joy of discovering a new amazing dancer! The bliss of learning a new move! Or being able to appreciate new things you hear out in the music, that you never noticed before?
Or even the fantastic feeling of freedom when you dance to nuevo music?! Enjoy it now, because soon you'll realise that classical music is richer and most people (including good dancers) prefer classics.
Whatever the stage of your tango life, appreciate it. It is unique now and it'll not be the same. Even if you are what some people call “an eternal beginner”, meaning a person who might have been dancing for 20 years, but dancing badly and without any changes or improvement over the years, even then, enjoy the now, because who knows, maybe your favourite milonga will close down tomorrow?
I know it's tempting to rush the time, to be excited about all the possibilities of potential good options and experiences that the future might bring. But the thing is, the future usually brings an equal amount of good and bad with it, as a rule of thumb. You might dance with better dancers, but you'll dance altogether less. You get to know more people, but your old friends might disappear. You might even become very popular and loved, but there will be more people who dislike you or tango politics will become difficult to navigate.
Whatever it is you're experiencing now, appreciate it. And this concerns not only positive experiences, but negative ones as well.
If you are having frustrations, remember that they will pass, but some new frustrations will arise. Life is not always better and more spotless somewhere out there. We learn to hide more, to take care more, even to avoid more.
Have you ever caught yourself sitting in a milonga, silently, lonely, having a bad night, and looking at popular dancers of high level, and wishing you were them? They were dancing a lot. Well, sometimes, those very dancers might be having a bad night, too, when nothing works, they seem invisible to others, their favourite dancers look elsewhere, there is someone better in town and all attention is taken away from them, and it can hurt, to be thrown off a pedestal. And imagine a superstar. A professional like those you see performing and whos videos you watch on YouTube until your eyes hurt. You'd think, wow, they are amazing. They could dance with anyone in this room! They know everything, can just move a finger and all dances will be theirs. Well, those superstars often sit in milonga after milonga, bored, because they might not want to dance any more, because they had too much. Who knows?
Everyone has their blisses and their struggles.
We need to TAKE TIME. To appreciate current moments. Our beautiful moments will not be back. Our frustration will grow into other frustrations.
Whatever it is you are now experiencing, live through it. Keep on working, keep on exploring, because lots of good things await you there. TRUST ME! Altogether, the growth and improvement is WORTH IT! But remember not to forget to appreciate the now, with all its blessings and imperfections. Tango is a patient business.