What does tango mean to you? Was it something you always dreamed of doing? Or did it take you by surprise?
For me it was a bit of both. I think I always had a little dream of dancing with another person and somehow just knowing what the other wanted without pre-learning a thing! Of being swept into another world. And if that other world was one from many years ago, even better – I’ve always had a soft spot for old movies.
In another way, it took me by surprise. When my sister suggested I join her for a tango class (back in the late 90’s), I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. I had no pre-conceptions about tango (other than perhaps confusing it with ballroom tango) and no expectations. After that first fateful class, I remember thinking, “I think I might do this once a week”!
Little did I know that soon I would be dancing several times a week, and then every day. And then … well, most of you know where tango has taken me. Within a relatively short space of time, tango went from being a pastime to a passion, taking over my life, becoming a way of life.
And I’m always fascinated when I see students going through the same thing, crossing that threshold from pastime to passion. Hearing the way they talk, seeing that all-familiar gleam in their eyes. And I love hearing their stories of how tango has changed them in completely unexpected ways, in both their personal and professional lives.
One student – a dermatologist – told us recently that when she opens the door and welcomes in her next patient, she does so with more poise, presence and confidence than in her pre-tango days. And she feels that this in turn helps her patients feel more confident and trusting in her care.
And just the other week, we received this moving message from a student who had returned to tango after a long, injury-induced break:
“With much trepidation I returned last night to your absolute beginners class, boyfriend in tow, intending to just walk for an hour. I wanted to remind you just how special a job you and David have, and that what you do for us is about so much more than just a dance.
Even years after I had been in that room, it felt exciting to be with so many people just starting on a tango journey. I talked to a girl who was at her first class, and by the end her eyes were lit up with the possibility of the dance. It was quite an emotional class for me, a mixture of fear that I wouldn’t manage, dismay at the weakness and wobble in my legs, a deep calm from the tango itself, and the hope that my boyfriend was enjoying it thrown in for good measure.
Tango has made me walk taller in other aspects of my life, helped me to be determined, shown me to sometimes just let go of things when they aren’t working, and to trust myself. I have missed you all so much.
I am starting again very slowly, probably with a few quiet weeks of beginners as I let my muscles wake up. I do hope that I will see you soon, inspiring me again.”
When I read messages like that, I realise it’s what I love most about my job. That it’s more than simply teaching tango, it’s about helping people to live out their dreams and enrich their lives.
The other day, I was spending time with another close student – a doctor who works in intensive care. I’m constantly in awe of what he does day in day out, the stress he is under and the long hours he puts in. So when he commented on how important a job David and I do, I laughed, “Not in comparison to you! You save people’s lives every day”.
To which he replied: “So do you!”
Please let me know if tango has impacted your every day life, helped you to understand yourself better or changed your life in any way. It would be great to hear more stories!