Sunday, May 9, 2010
The Tango Festival
I don't usually go on and on about Argentine tango not because I'm not passionate about dancing tango but because I'm often private about how I feel about the dance. It's something I have done for about 15 years and my relationship to tango and its long history is emotional, complicated and passionate.
Fro those of you who don't know, Argentine tango is a social dance and not a competition. American tango is part of the ballroom scene and its unending competition and is not so similar to the tango danced in the tango salons around the world.
Tango dancing has taken me to some of the coolest places on earth. Mecca, of course, is Buenos Aires - the most authentic place to dance tango. I've been thirteen times. Is that sick or addictive or just plain fanciful? I don't know but the city kept calling me back for all those year - and it's charm and authenticity still does - but I'm running out of years to see other parts of the world and so I'm taking a break for awhile and trying out Costa Rica, Southern Spain, Morocco, Bali this year and maybe Africa next year. I'll bet back to Buenos Aires, but for now, I can dance really wonderful tango in many cities in America. I used to go to Amsterdam to dance in the Christmas/NewYear's festival, and I have been to Berlin and Paris to dance, but Europe is, well....Europe is in deep trouble. And besides, airline flights are unpredictable. Someone once asked me to rate the best tango cities outside of Buenos Aires: Berlin and Amsterdam are tops - in fact, all cities in Holland and most of Germany are outstanding. And then there is the new kid on the block: Istanbul.
Which brings me back to Los Angeles and our tango festival that is just finishing up today, Sunday, May 9. Many years ago, there was a festival that ran for two years in Redondo Beach, but this tango festival was in my own backyard of Santa Monica. To undertake a tango festival takes incredible planning and organization and tenacity, usually ending in exhaustion and utter happiness. And I just wanted to recognize and applaud the organizers in my tango community for their incredible efforts.
The joy of a tango festival is to reacquaint with old friends, make new friends and dance with familiar partners. The tango atmosphere generate a generosity of spirit and an esprit de corp that distinguish tango dancers with an unusual set of dance skills and a genuine love for the history of the dance and its deep appreciation of its music. And this morning, I feel the pain of my swollen feet, view with horror the dark circles under my eyes from the late nights, and wonder if I have the energy to attend tonight's last milonga (or dance), knowing that I will probably drag myself back to Santa Monica high school and see who is left from the 200 or so attendees.
I know I'm probably the oldest tango dancer in any festival I attend. And I keep it a very closed secret, although once in awhile to my very close friends I tell them about how joyful I am about my grandsons and how thrilled I am to be awaiting the birth of my first granddaughter. They've got to guess my age, but if my guy friends know - or if they ask what the title of my book is (Sixty, Sex & Tango) they surely know - but they are happy to share a little piece of my life and then we dance another tanda.
I'm anticipating going to Denver for Memorial Day, which is my favorite tango festival in the US. It will be fun to see who shows up, exciting to anticipate dancing with more old friends, and terrific to spend time with one of my closest friends from Santa Fe who designs and sells tango clothes. If she brings her pugs, it will be a special treat.
Dancing tango has brought me more joy in life than I could ever hoped for, more comfort and passions than I could have ever dreamed of, and more excitement and travel than I could have ever dreamed of.
Thanks for letting me share my experience.