Last night I tangoed at Latest Music Bar, Brighton. It was my first lesson and it was free: a taster. A Latin American beat announced the beginning of the lesson. The teachers met in an embrace; he led her around the floor, pausing, shifting her weight. She moved only on his say so. Her eyes stared straight ahead but not at anything; they were slightly dazed in the act of listening to the direction of his energy. My heart beat faster as I watched them.
Nervously, I took off my trainers and let my feet into the red suede heels I’d brought in my rucksack. We began by walking: sliding my feet backwards, torso lifting from the waist, abdominals pulling in the tummy. It was hard to stay balanced and to keep all of these factors in mind. But the things I found easy to learn were to bring my heels together after a step and to focus my attention on listening to the direction from my partner’s chest. Following the direction wasn’t always easy – my mind got in the way sometimes.
I have a tendency to allow my left arm to drift up and out away from my partner’s arm tucked beneath it. Leaning forward towards my partner as he leads me around the floor creates an intimacy that I found got in the way sometimes of being able to follow the direction. Overwhelm at the closeness created a sort of inertia in my body which refused a step that was being encouraged; a bit like a horse refusing to jump a fence. To get over this I sense I must turn up again and again and put myself in that close position, allowing myself to know that it’s okay to be this physically close to a man.
I came away with another important message: “wait and wait”. It’s about allowing myself to be led: to wait for instruction, to listen and feel for it. With this comes a sense of uncertainty: we might move or we might stay here, shifting our weight. It feels breathless and exhilerating. It’s a lesson that can be transferred to other areas of life. Impatience can ruin a project; waiting, patient and alert, can make it beautiful.