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A tango moment - it is why we dance.

It was like a scene out of a movie. Most of the crowd had dispersed from the New York style loft where the late night milonga was being held. Its warm brick walls were dimly lit by tall lamps, reflecting their light in the mirrors that ran down one long wall. The tall sash windows were open to the night air, letting the murmurs of the city entangle themselves with the strains of tango music.

With a simple tilt of his head, he indicated his desire for one final dance before the night ended. Having recently become infatuated with tango, I accepted his proposal immediately. I had been milking every milonga I could, from opening strains to the final close, dancing at every possible moment. He took me into the embrace and from the moment when he began to gently sway and shift our weight, I felt myself falling into what dancers describe as the ‘tango moment’. Everything fell away. It was simply myself, my partner and the dark moody tango bandoneon. Our feet moved simultaneously across the wooden dance floor, free to move as we wished being the only couple on the dance floor. Our own private moment.

These “tango moments” actually last for one song, or potentially a tanda (set of three songs). It is when you lose yourself completely in the music, your partner and your dance. You no longer worry about whether you are dancing correctly, whether you will to be able to follow the lead or whether you might bump into someone else. All nervousness drops away and there is a shared bubble of consciousness that draws you both in.

You may wonder that if you dance a lot, surely this must happen often? But the truth is, it doesn’t. Tango requires a presence from each dancer that is directly affected by their frame of mind. If you have had a bad day you can’t shake off, or even a bad dance the tanda before, the chance of a tango moment diminishes.  The moment itself also requires a wee bit of magic as small factors determine whether it will happen or not. Some dancers have analysed their own tango moments, finding that they happen more often with a dancer of the same ability (a better dancer causes nervousness and a less experienced dancer requires more attention), or that dancing with a new partner heightens their awareness of their partner’s subtle movements.

Tango moments do not require big fancy movements. It is not the thrill of mastering a challenging sequence of improvised steps - although that is quite an experience that usually brings a smile to the usually sombre face of a dancer. It can be as simple was walking together with your partner, in time, in sync, connected.
It is what we dance for. These sweet gems that sparkle amidst the many many tandas. It is what keeps us coming back.


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