Sunday, August 3, 2008

How Goes the Dancing?

I'm sure you've all been dying to know how the dancing has been going. I danced for almost two months in Buenos Aires, went to at least four different schools, and had at least seven different teachers. I learned some good patterns and got some good experience. I'm still not at the point where I can dance a long song without repeating moves, but I've come a long way. I also took a couple Tango classes in Buenos Aires with León and Nadia.

The plan is now to dance in every place I visit that has dancing. In Córdoba, I failed. Between lack of time and energy, I didn't go. Bruno wore me out. At least that's my excuse.

Here in Mendoza, I did better. I went to a Tango class with professors Julio & Daniela at a milonga (tango bar) called El Tango & El Vino ( The class was excellent, and cost 16 pesos, or just over $5. It lasted one hour and was on Saturday at 4:00 P.M.

This morning at 12:30, I showed up at La Dolfina, a restaurant conveniently located just a ten-minute walk from the hostel where I'm staying (which, by the way, is quite decent). When I got there, I was told the dance was upstairs, so I headed up. There were only a couple people there. In standard introverted fashion, I found a seat by myself. For the next half-hour or so, the sound guys set up their system. Probably a little after 1:00 A.M., the music started. No one was dancing, and there were still hardly any people present. I was still alone, and the only person who had communicated with me was the waiter who asked if I wanted something to drink.

Eventually, things picked up. For the first little while, there were only a few couples dancing, but before too terribly long, the floor had probably a half dozen couples and the seating area nearby was pretty full. In typical fashion, I just sat there, still terrified to ask anyone to dance, despite the fact that I had developed a modicum of dance skills. After probably over an hour—and just before I was about to pack up and go home in frustration and defeat—a guy came over and asked if I was alone. I said yes. He invited me over to his table where he was hanging out with several friends. Where there is dancing, there are a lot of friends. They hang out every week together and the atmosphere is very nice. That's been my experience.

I said sure. In my mind I was thinking "Great. Now I'm going to be stuck not dancing while hanging out with strangers and not knowing what they're saying to me." I wasn't in the best state of mind. Oscar introduced me to his friends, both guys and girls. We all said hello and kissed each other on the cheek. In typical fashion, they offered to share their beer with me. Couldn't hurt, I figured. Maybe the magic of beer would once again bring me through.

Long story short, I did a lot more sitting, and a bit of dancing. I danced with probably the best follower I've ever danced with. I had been watching her and she was pretty awesome. She was the primary target on my radar. I warmed up with two other girls and finally asked her. Over the course of the song, I pulled out every trick I know. Not knowing a lot of tricks, I had to repeat a few, but it went pretty well. Knowing that she was a fantastic follower going into it, I knew that how things turned out was up to me. The fact that she did pretty much everything I asked was very encouraging. It meant I was doing a pretty good job of communicating.

I was impressed by the level of dancing here. At La Salsera in Buenos Aires, there were tons of classes and therefore a lot of dancers who were learning. Almost without exception, the dancers this evening in this club here in Mendoza were fantastic—guys and girls. Everyone was very musical. There were very few dancers throughout the evening who didn't know exactly when the musical phrase began. They had the combination of musicality, technicality, and moves. And most of the ladies were incredible followers. I was impressed.

Mid morning, there was a contest for the best dressed guy. Lots of laughing, shouting, cheering, and fun. More dancing followed.

I got back to the hostel at 6:00 A.M., a record for my trip.

I have a lot to learn and maybe before I get home, I'll conquer whatever underlying issue of fear I have. I don't know. Meantime, I'll keep trying. Valparaíso is my next target and I'm already scoping out their Salsa joints. God bless the Internet.

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