Recently, I was discussing with a man – smart, curious, driven – in one of our practicas. I’d seen him a few times before, always in class or practica; He’d come once, then drop out for a few months and come back.
‘I really want to take on tango’, he said, before mentioning how he was so busy at work he didn’t have any time to commit to regular classes. I wanted to tell him that Tango is awesome, life changing, and that he definitely should start dancing.
And I also wanted to tell him: Don’t bother.
The traditional key to success
You see, that man is a very successful investment banker. Or is it asset manager or Project finance ED? One of those jobs that require you to be driven, ambitious, quick, ruthless… In most of our jobs today, the qualities that are celebrated and key to success (and sometimes: to just not getting fired), revolve around strength, commitment, ambition, ruthlessness. We arrive to the corporate job fresh from school, and little by little, we ‘fake it to make it’ and take on those qualities. I’ve seen the impact of that on my personal life, and now I see it on tango students.
Like growing flowers
The thing is learning tango is just like growing flowers. I used to dream about a plant-full bedroom. Yet I’d kill all the plants that ended between my hands. I would just get irritated: they didn’t grow and open the way they were supposed to (I give you water, for f…’s sake, WHAT do you need??)… Until I realised that giving them a full liter of water every two weeks then forgetting about them wouldn’t do.
Flowers need water every few days, but not too much. They need care, they need us to listen to them, to try and understand what makes them happy and what makes them sad. They are happier when we listen to their needs.
They need gentleness and attention, regularity, and love.
Learning Tango is very similar to growing flowers.
If you approach Tango with strength, forcefulness or irregularity, your tango will panic and never give flowers. If you give it attention, care and love regularly…. like a plant, it might thrive. It might also very much barely survive for two years, never really give the flowers you expect. It will evolve, that’s for sure, but it might take years for you to understand and give it what it needs.
Leaving our ego at the door
Don’t they say that ‘The path to anything worthwhile – and tango IS worthwhile – is paved with tears, disappointments and blablabla’?
To learn tango, you’ll have to leave your ego at the door. You’ll have to take hours and hours of classes where you are only walking. On your own. It’s the basis of everything we do, and, like scales or the ballet barre, we learn through repetition. It can be boring, painful, or exhilarating, but it’s necessary. Then, when you get better, you will take private classes wit amazing dancers who will correct your embrace (yes, the thing you learnt in your FIRST class). I recently took a class with a wonderful teacher, and we danced ONE tango. The rest of the hour was spent on one side step and posture. It was amazing.
Basically, you’ll have to go deep.
Is it the right time?
The thing is, sometimes in our lives it’s not the right time for us. We’re busy. We don’t have the time in our lives and the space in our minds. We’re goal-oriented, we want to get things done, and we can’t change with the flick of a finger when the evening starts and it’s time to take-on tango classes. That’s fine. It’s just not the right time, but the beauty of tango is that it can be started at any age.
As Pablo’s father always says: *El tango te esta esperando* (Tango is waiting for you)
So, dear Smart-Curious-Driven-Man-Who-Is-Thinking-Of-Taking-Up-Tango….
I DO want you to start learning Tango! I’m just not sure it’s the right thing for you today. If you dance for two months, and give up, it’s likely that it will be a disappointing experience for your partners, your teachers, and you. Especially you. But if you do take it up for two month, and it makes you happy, then I guess that it makes the world a better place, so please, come.
*Te estamos esperando*