Tango Lesson 4 – Stop looking at your feet

Kathrin Lake, author of From Survival to Thrival documents her first Tango lessons inspired by Tim Ferriss’s book The 4 -Hour Workweek.

Tango Lesson 4.

E and I are still the pet students because we are picking it up fast, which is both bad and good.  It means that Gabriela wants to teach us new things every lesson.  This really appeals to the side of me that likes to learn and desires variety, but may not be so good for mastery of basics. I am wondering when and if my head will explode, but it doesn’t. This time, Gabriela does teach us something that is basic to everything in dance, but which she says many long time dancers never fully get.  That is listening to and understanding the music, and how to move with it.  For the women, as followers, it is all about listening for the lead too. You then have to hope that he has a sense of the music himself.  If he doesn’t, it can be a long and boring dance.  Since Jim got me into swing dancing some years ago, I better understood that old expression “keeping me on my toes.”  A skilled lead, with a soulful sense of the music, will have you starting, stopping and doing things you never thought you could do, all in time to the music.

We learn a new fancy step, that is a double step that looks great when couples do it together smoothly.  To the outside observer you may wonder how they work so fluidly in sync, but she has to listen to his small cues with his hand on her back.  When we goof up Gabriela helps us with a new vocal cue, last week it was “ch, ch, ch!” and this week it is: “ee, ee, eee!” This is all about listening, which quite frankly I find I suck at in real life. Okay, maybe not suck at, but could be better at. 

The only thing I really want to get better at is to keep my head up and stop having the temptation to look at my feet.  If I use dance as the metaphor for a soulful life, where in life do we always have the temptation to look at our feet and therefore miss the gracefulness of life?   Maybe it’s watching TV?  We watch others while we never pay attention to what is going on around us and where we are moving? Or we watch others do what we want, like “Dancing with the Stars.” It makes me happy that I can say I am learning tango instead of watching on the sidelines.  We are our own stars. File under undigested food for thought.

I was worried that E was going to give up the Tango lessons because she is so busy, but she too is getting hooked, and I ‘m glad because she looks great doing it.  She is starting to wonder if her boyfriend may be open to taking lessons too.  We talk a little about relationships and how nice it is to be in a committed one where you don’t have to worry about anyone becoming attracted to you, or you to them.  We are just here to enjoy the dance. Phew!  A relief. More fun, less complicated.

Speaking of relationships, Jim and the more advanced students start coming in the studio. There is a big poster on the table of Gabriela’s big tango gala weekend in October where she brings in  the best of the best from Argentina (Guillermo Salvat & Silvia Grynt), to teach workshops and then the big gala dance.  Jim wants to go to the dance. I am nervous and practically beg his current dance partner to sub in for me, as I am sure I will not be ready.  She seems as reticent as I am.  The thing about dances for dancers, unlike a bar, it is considered a no-no to refuse a dance with anyone.  If they ask you, you go. We are all nervous. I convince her that we will all go together and support each other.  I’m not sure she goes for it, but I would like to see her there dancing with Jim, especially since I know E won’t be there.  Funny how we used to sit around in gyms hoping the boys would ask us to dance, now here we are practically hoping they won’t, or at least, that we will be able to keep up when they do.  Life is a circle in so many ways.  Gotta laugh, gotta love it. 

Find out more about what Kathrin does to live a full life at: http://www.survivaltothrival.com/

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