This is one of my very first photos in tango. I had been dancing for about 2.5 years then. And I was absolutely not sure that I was an amazing dancer. Millions of doubts and voices telling me I wasn't good. I continued nevertheless.
I recently lost a student. We as tango community recently lost a wonderful and exceptionally talented dancer. I could see he would have been able to have a bright and versatile future in tango, in dance.
But he quit.
He had been dancing for a couple of years, and he tried to study with a few different people and schools, eventually joining me for almost a year. I could see his immense progress and he felt really nice in his dance. A bit unsure and not trusting yet that he can dance, but altogether really nice.
But he never managed to catch the “wow this is amazing!” feeling. I once asked him, if he ever had THE tanda. No, he hadn't, he replied. I tried to make him go to milongas more, and encouraged to travel at least once to a festival or marathon. He was not the superstar (yet) but he could have been one. He just needed to do it, to get out there and try, and to repeat over and over the simple motion of getting into embrace, connecting, walking, pivoting... There is no need to do more, really.
The sad truth is that there are so many talented and curious people in tango, as well as outside tango, who quit, who don't manage to get out of their shells to shine and fall in love with this dance. There are so many people who go to classes and milongas and see complicated moves and crazy sequences, and see all other dancers around them moving, moving, moving, they get an idea that to dance well is to be able to dance *just like that*. And if they can't yet dance like that, why would anyone WANT to even try to dance with them? They can't imagine that anyone would be interested in dancing with them, so they retreat. It's scary, putting yourself out there, when you are still unsure about your body and the way you move, and everything is overwhelming.
I want to encourage dancers who are struggling and are unsure whether they should continue tango: YES, YOU CAN. And you should. Yes, you can be a very lovely, wonderful dancer. Yes, go to milongas, and invite people, various people, and stop worrying about what they might think about you. Embrace your partners like you embrace a close friend after not having seem them for a year, give your partners a feeling of being really happy to dance with them. Most of us go to milongas and we are in tango because we search and enjoy the connection. So try to forget about crazy moves you have seen around you. Try to give your partner a feeling of “it's so lovely to embrace you. I am so happy to share this moment with you”.
And then just walk, change weight, do the pivots, or rebounds. Avoid anything that will clutter your mind with difficult stuff and take your attention away from your partner. Listen to the music, to your dance partner in your arms, and enjoy the moment of togetherness. And I promise, I guarantee you, there will come an embrace that will make you forget about everything, that will melt your heart and you will not know what to do with your happiness.
There will come an embrace which will make you want to have more. And that moment is when all your struggles, and all your insecurities, and all your doubts will be meaningless. You will know that you CAN dance, and that it's wonderful.
Don't quit. Go to milongas, not just classes, as you will never catch this moment in a class. Go out, as much as you can, and embrace people as much as you can. And then it will come.
P.S. If you are really not sure whether you can and should continue tango, come talk to me. I am very open for conversations, any time. If you have a question, come ask, or share with me. If I can I will help you. If not, I will at least listen. And eventually, we might dance.