The Human Dance in the Void

This Saturday, I am down at my local Starbuck’s at English Bay cashing in on a gift card and doing what people do there. People watch.

This is the scene I see happening before my eyes. Two young men are sitting outside at a table and I am sitting inside. Along comes an elderly woman with the look of a poverty line statistic, who, without a word, pulls up the chair across from them, shakily sits down, and lights up a cigarette. It is obvious they don’t know her. It goes without saying she is not carrying a Starbuck’s product (which I secretly admire her for). She just wants a place to sit, rest and smoke. With my front row seat through the glass I feel the young men squirm. One looks into his phone the other keeps checking out the summer babes crowding the sidewalks.  The old woman draws on her cigarette, her hand shakes all the way from hand to mouth for that precious drag. What will happen?

1_social disconnection

2_social disconnection

4_social disconnection

Not a word is spoken. Is this tolerance, apathy, social disconnection, generation gap? I am glad no one chases her away. Even though if it were me sitting outside, that cigarette would make me a little zoodles. How long will this social contract to ignore each other go on?  Will anyone break it? Will anyone acknowledge the void? I am waiting for the men to leave… or maybe the woman. Care to hazard a guess?


5_social disconnection

One young man leaves without saying a word to the other. I had assumed the two men were friends and clearly they were strangers sharing a table and nothing more. Does my assumption reflect the story I want to see? Then the woman leaves, unsteady and plodding. Then the other young man with the phone moves off.

7_social disconnection

The dance is over. I present it here to make of it what you will but consider that there are millions more dances like these happening everywhere all the time.

Tango, seriously?

Okay, like many people I did read Tim Ferriss’s Book The 4-Hour Workweek; who wouldn’t with a title like that. This man competed internationally and won kickboxing championships (sort of in a sneaky way though), set a GWB record  for number of tango spins in a minute, and was the first American to compete in Tango in Argentina where they grow up learning it, all the while being a successful entrepreneur. Talk about live the life!

But what about the rest of us, you might say. I guess there is that old Nike slogan Just Do It, but I’ve never trusted it, so how about the universal spousal slogan Just Drag Them Into It. Most of the time you would see the husbands being dragged into dance lessons, but in my case I am hitched to a dancing fool. It is his passion. He dragged me into swing dancing which is a great deal of fun. But in the past year he has turned his rampant hunger for dance to the Tango. For those of you who don’t know, this is one of the hardest couples dances to master because of its precision. It hardly looks like, or feels like, the loose fun of swing dancing. 

Frankly, I was secretly hoping he would find it too challenging and give up. But he didn’t, he found a fantastic Argentinian-Canadian Tango teacher, Gabriela, in Vancouver, who just won a legacy award for keeping culture alive.  Suddenly, I noticed whenever we were swing dancing in a closed dance position he was wrapping his arm all the way around my back in the if-I got-any-closer-to-you-I’d-be-behind-you Tango embrace.  I was not so sure I liked the idea that he was learning this dance with other women.  He dragged me to a few workshops and as I suspected I would have to break many of my swing dance habits to learn this dance. Finally I yielded and signed up with Gabriella last week. Gabriella, the woman who on first meeting calls me “Kathrin, my darling” and continues to. She says not to worry “if you have two left feet, I will turn one into a right.” I had to sign up to beginner classes naturally, and Jim is in beyond beginner (that tells you how hard it is if you can’t even go from beginner to intermediate, after a year you just get bumped to beyond beginner). Therefore I was to face beginning alone! Or was I? There is that old slogan, Just Drag Them Into It, and so last week I persuaded my best friend to start Tango with me. It is the cycle of dragging them into it perpetuated. So, I will continue to blog my progress, my partner’s, and my best friend’s in this tango line we have created. I don’t expect to be doing international competitions any time soon, or ever, although Jim is already talking about going to Buenos Aires one day. I guess the point is that sometimes it is good to be dragged into things, and sometimes it is okay to drag others into things (for scaredy cat reasons). We do learn, grow and discover this way.  Or you can just watch people on TV or read books about them. Your choice. Here I go, two left feet and all.

Find out more about what Kathrin does to live a full life at: