In keeping with my New Year’s Resolution to socialize more, I have started taking tango lessons. Yes, you heard me, little old me is taking dance lessons. Now, as my oldest friend Hui Chin will attest, I have no rhythm. This is especially sad considering I am half Black and half Hispanic (I should, by genetic birthright, be competing on Dancing with the Stars). So when a friend suggested I tag along with her to a tango class taught by her friends, I said “Why not?” and headed out into the winter cold. The classes are taught by Sharna and Isaac, two experienced tango dancers in the DC area who have a true love and appreciation for the time honored traditions of tango. The Tuesday night “crash courses”, held at 18th Street Lounge, are geared towards those who are new to tango, so there isn’t pressure to be a dancing queen right off the bat. Even better, you don’t need to have a partner for the class. You simply show up with a willingness to learn and a good pair of shoes (I learned that the hard way).
My first class taught me one thing: I like to lead. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering I am a bit of a control freak. But it’s not a good thing in tango for a woman to be unwilling to surrender the lead to her partner. So I spent the better part of my first lesson trying to wrestle away control from my unfortunate male partners. My friend gently pointed out that I was, in fact, the woman and thus should allow the man to lead me around the floor. When I pointed out that I wasn’t sure any of these guys were capable of leading a hungry man to an all you can eat buffet, much less an entire tango set, she agreed. But then she still insisted I at least try to relinquish the lead to my partner. Lesson one ended with me still struggling with the whole “man should lead” concept and with the concept of moving backwards. But I had a blast and I really enjoyed learning the steps. I promised to return and even considered taking Sharna and Isaac’s beginner’s progressive tango class series. Unfortunately, it’s in Bethesda and my laziness reared it’s ugly head the next Monday when I was supposed to be heading for the beginner’s series.
I did, however, return for the next crash course and two friends noticed I was starting to loosen my body up and was showing signs of improvement (although that could just be them trying to bolster up my confidence enough to return on a regular basis….my friends are such liars). Again I left vowing to go to next Monday’s beginner’s series…and again, I got lazy and stayed at home to watch wrestling (shut up….who are you to judge my television viewing habits). The plan is for me to start the next beginner’s series, scheduled to start in two weeks. And now that my friend knows the extent of my laziness, we have devised a scheme wherein I pay her $5 every time I bail out of a tango class. But my growing interest in tango (and the rituals surrounding it) are turning out to be great motivators in and of themselves….