Five times in my tango life, I've been either thinking of quitting tango, or dramatically reducing its impact and amount in my life. The most recent one is exactly now, when I'm writing these words.
Tango is not for faint-hearted. With years you grow thick skin, and yet it can get you down. The more sensitive you are, the bigger the influence may be. And yet, most of the time when I see people quitting or reducing tango addiction, is when they get genuinely happier somewhere outside of tango, not because tango gets them down too much. Sometimes, people fall in love, or find a great fulfilling job, or move to a happier place on the map or in life.
I remember my first step away from tango, for 2 months, three years into my dancing. Nothing dramatic happened, rather I was tired of too much drama in tango and needed to focus on my life beside dancing. Back then everything in tango was pure drama. “He danced with me! Oh wow I am finally dancing with the best of the best!” “Oh no, he didn't dance with me tonight!!!” “How do I get this guy to stop following me and trying to invite me in milongas?!” I wanted a bit more peace, to concentrate on my life and career. And this break did me so well that I came back much more refreshed, eager and with a much healthier prospective on this whole thing called tango. Unfortunately, it didn't last very long and soon I was back in the clasps of addiction.
But ever since, I take a break or a “vacation” from tango now and then. I do it when I'm feeling too much drama (unnecessary) or when I feel my life outside of the dance could be a bit more fulfilling. Sometimes it's just good not having to plan your every day and every evening and every weekend with one thing, and rather discover what other passions you have or may have. And some other times, it's nice to step away to get a look “from the outside” if it gets too much.
Hitting a low in tango is not a bad thing.
It is your chance to review, analyse, explore and catch a breath of fresh air. You just have to take this time and opportunity to take a break, not push through no matter what! Like a sabbatical from work and every day life, we sometimes need a sabbatical from tango. And whether it comes because there was some serious drama in your tango life, or because you want to freshen up, or because you're tired of the same activity, or maybe tango somehow disappointed you, whatever the case: take the time to rejuvenate! You will see that most likely, you will come back feeling much better and much more hungry for healthy tango food (no junk), and your overall well-being will thank you!
Talk to people and your mentors.
Sometimes, we all go through bad times in tango. And what often helps if nothing else you do helps, is getting help from outside. Again, it's about a fresh view on things, as you might not be able to see everything from one point. Talk to your friends, or your teacher. Especially your teacher should be able to give you a more general overview of your situation, based on their experience. If you feel you can't talk to your teacher, seek out guidance from other teachers than your own. It might be my personal view, but I feel that teachers are there not just to teach you moves, but to help and guide you on your tango path. To me, my tango friends, partners and especially teachers are true guiding forces. I see teachers like mentors, so if I have an issue I can't resolve by myself, or I'm confused to the point of being down and wanting to quit, I rely on help from my mentors.
I was down and confused about what I should do with my tango some time ago. I asked my teacher who I view as my inspiration and mentor, if we can have a chat. We skyped, she she really helped me see things in a different light, so everything was less difficult and more manageable after that. So my honest advice is, find a teacher that you can see as your mentor. Not every teacher can be a mentor for every dancer, so look for the one you know is right for you! Find your mentor!
Better sooner than later.
Have you noticed that if we sometimes have an unlucky night out dancing, we sit in the corner unnoticed? And once it starts, it's very difficult to get out of it. So many dancers eventually adopt a strategy: if you can't have fun tonight, go home early. No point in sulking, and next time will be better!
You can adopt a similar approach to having a low in tango: don't push yourself to sit and wait till it gets better. If it's not bringing joy, and you know you've tried everything, take a pause rather earlier than later. That way you might refresh much sooner, and come back with much more energy and desire to dance and have fun.
It's all part of the deal and it's temporary!
It's all part of the program! Don't let it spoil your love for the dance, for your friends and trust that soon you'll be back in full glory! If you need to take a complete break from tango, do it. Or if you can, simply reduce it and come back more when you're ready. Just remember that it's all ok, we all go through it now and then, and that you will soon be back on dance floors or in classes, and will enjoy life and tango to its fullest!
Enjoy and love your tango journey, with all it has in store for you!
P.S. Photo by Sightliner Photography, Istanbul