Not that long after starting to dance tango, I found myself in Rome, in company of loud and cheerful Italians, sitting in a small restaurant in the centre, eating so much (and so cheap) that my body was about to explode, trying to keep up with a conversation without understanding a word of what they were all saying, all at the same time, all 10 of them. No matter what topic was suggested, within three minutes it magically transformed itself into debates about best pasta, pizza, parmesan and mozzarella, and who makes it better and what everyone else is missing by not living in THAT particular region of Italy. And then, full, happy and slightly drunk, we rolled into a milonga, and danced the rest of the night.
Another time I was invited to join my friends in Istanbul for an after-milonga soup (or rather, early-morning major meal) and learned that best and most fun things happen in these soup parties and connections that are formed here are definitely life-long.
One of my most beautiful memories is of days on Filicudi, a tiny island a few hours off the shore of Italy, where I was invited to come for vacation and dancing with a few other tango friends. I remember the food, and the medusas in water when we went skinny dipping at pitch-black night after our home-made milongas, and dancing till sunrise on other days, and the heat, and the chilled laughter and conversations with other dancers, about everything in the world.
Thanks to tango, I can write to a bunch of friends practically in any country and city in the world, asking them for advice, inviting them for a coffee or finding out where to dance that night.
Tango also introduced me to my closest friends, people who I rely on and love talking to and can share anything in the world with. One of them came into my life when I really needed someone, when I was lonely and sad, and she listened to me, offered me gallons of tea in her kitchen and who soon became my companion on some of the most cozy, warm and soulful trips (including tango-trips) in my life.
With tango people, I had conversations about travelling to the stars, types of vodka (plus testing), best books, dancing sober vs. dancing high on marijuana (for the record, I've never tried!), babies, veganism, jet engines, life choices, work load, cats and dogs, life partner selection, dickpics, surviving a breakup, most ridiculous chat up lines (“Do you like chocolate? I have some in my room!”) and pretty much anything you can imagine.
Photo by John Fernando, in Italy
Tango gave me a community when I was alone in a foreign country, without a language, job or friends. I didn't even have to talk much, and yet I was part of them, and I felt included.
Indeed, my whole life transformed because I walked into tango classes one day, and some time later asked my teacher what I should do to continue improving. And he said, I should start travelling.
Thanks to tango, I saw so many countries and places! Even when I was living hand-to-mouth, I'd been saving all I could to afford a chance to travel somewhere to some dance event, and it was worth it!
And most importantly, tango gave me a sense of fascination, of never-ending possibilities, of friendships, of connection, and beauty.
How did all of this happen?
I started dancing in a small German community, and while it was a great tango-kindergarden place, I never really felt I was German enough (I wasn't) to be like others and to be content. I liked living there but I didn't really form close connections with most people. It was difficult to break through.
And yet, tango gave me a place to escape the stress of my loneliness, of my very German job, of my foreignness, a place where I didn't need to be German to feel ok. Later I discovered the fascination of finding a tango community for myself where I felt most at ease, where my eyes sparkled and I smiled more than ever in my life – Italy. And then I found all other countries and places and people, all with their own beautiful moments and traits, and my life transformed.
Magic in my life didn't happen because I went to tango classes or because I was *that* lucky.
Magic happened because I was curious, and because my teacher told me to travel and to discover that there is so much to discover.
The biggest magic happened because as I was improving, more and more people were noticing me, and eventually dancing with me. Magic happened when one of those dancers who I eyed jealously from afar at milongas (local and international), suddenly sent a cabeceo my way! And then another! And another! And after some time I was invited to join some “cool” groups of dancers for dinners. Once I remember being part of one of these dinner groups, when a well-known maestro who was at our table, told me he'd like to dance with me. Oh wow!
The magic happened because gradually, over years, I continued improving, and through travelling and seeing other dancers, I could see that there was much to strive to, many dancers who were out of reach but I wanted them to be within my reach. And over time, they became within reach! Isn't that magical?
Photo by Petar Pavlov, in France
And most wonderful thing was, it was within my own power! I was the one deciding that I wanted to be able to dance and hang out with those people, and eventually I was! It took time and didn't work 100%, but it worked! All I needed was to continue getting better, getting noticed, and not stopping.
This is the reason I want my students and all tango dancers to go out, travel, attend international events. It changes your life! Becoming a part of that vast, beautiful and varied community can be destiny-changing! Magic won't happen overnight, but it's possible and all of you can experience it!
That's why TangoBETTER. Better in tango leads to better abilities, leads to being more confident, leads to being more noticed, leads to meeting more people, leads to creating more friendships, leads to sharing amazing moments, leads to incredibly fun and joyful life.
That's why I insist on exercises and practice and on going out to dance as much as possible! I insist on students travelling abroad, getting to know how other people dance, and hopefully catching the “international tango virus”. I try to help them get into events, and will always continue to push them beyond the things they see in front of their eyes. Even though, sometimes, I might be a bit too much. But I know first-hand that all this can lead to real MAGIC.
Keep getting BETTER. It takes you to fun and magical places! :)
With love and with joy in my life thanks to tango,