A Very Tango Christmas

I’m squinting at the screen through puffy eyes and a bad hotel coffee headache, overlooking the marina at Shelter Island in San Diego. For my Christmas present, Scott not only bought me new sparkly red tango shoes, he also sent me out of town for the weekend to dance in them. I’m rooming with my tango guru Jamie Rose and in between hours upon hours of dancing a day, we’ve been eating Godiva chocolates, taking baths and listening to Deepak Chopra meditations (I know, moms, please don’t hate me). I can’t believe that a mere few days ago I was in full-tilt Christmasville. It’s a different world.

On Christmas morning, I made epic latkes and we had T’s aunties over for breakfast. The day was an explosion of robot godzillas and mechanical zombie bugs and dance parties on the bed. Later, we watched Nightmare Before Christmas (T’s choice), ate Chinese food and had a massive meltdown, but nothing unexpected. Two days later I still felt hungover as I left a house littered with the aftermath- fire hazard Christmas tree needles ground into the carpet, discarded ribbons intertwined with the dust bunnies in the corner of the living room, toys with no place to go living on top of the coffee table.

A side note: if you’re looking to make latkes, I highly recommend Tina Wasserman’s tutorial. She has some handy tricks. My latkes were the best ever (just look at ’em). Scott kind of has a crush on Tina. I know this because he watched 20 minutes of youtube latke tips with me and there is no other possible explanation.

I nearly had an anxiety attack from the guilt as I was packing for San Diego. I’ve gone out of town plenty of times for work, but I’ve never left T for the weekend for fun. Scott reassured me that I would almost certainly find a way to make the weekend into work, seeing as I don’t really do fun all that well. Or rather I don’t really do anything all that well if I’m not writing about it. I feel unmoored if I don’t have a secret purpose in any given scenario- a reason to take constant notes in my head.

Tango is actually a great remedy for this. Even if I do run back to my room and journal about my experiences after class, I can’t (as I often do elsewhere in life) write in my head as I’m dancing. Tango takes a tremendous amount of focus. You can’t be anywhere else but in your body or you’ll step all over your partner and dance like Frankenstein. I danced with an interesting mathematician yesterday, who told me that tango’s biggest gift to him was that it gives him a space in his life that he’s more than just a big walking, talking brain- he actually has a body.

As the New Year approaches, I’m reflecting on my hopes and goals for 2013. I always try to avoid New Year’s resolutions, because they seem to be just another big stick to beat myself with- a list of all the ways I can’t stand myself. But this seems a worthy goal: to spend more time fully in my body instead of stuck in my brain chatter. Back to it!

Just Dance

I don’t have time for a hobby, and I REALLY don’t have time for an obsession. Yet, obsessions happen.

I have always wanted to tango. I love tango music and I remember looking up classes in New York back in the early nineties. But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I actually tried it for the first time. On impulse, I texted my saucy tanguera friend Jamie Rose (author of the awesome book Shut up and Dance) and said: I want to dance. A mere few days later I was taking a private lesson at a dance studio in Koreatown (that’s a pic of me dancing with my teacher Moti Buchboot).

It felt like no less than a dream come true for a moment, to finally be dancing the elegant moves I’ve only ever attempted in my fantasies. For about fifteen minutes I was convinced I was a tango prodigy… then it got really hard. Since then it’s only gotten more challenging, more frustrating and paradoxically more satisfying.

Let me clarify that Scott is not my tango partner. I’m flying solo. He couldn’t be more supportive, but he’d rather stick pins under his eyelids than spend hours a week partner dancing. It’s not his thing. Let’s just say that Scott is to tango dancing as I am to Rush music. Still, he knows that if I’m doing something that makes me feel happy and sexy, it can only benefit him in the long run.

My neighbor Suzanne told me that I was demented, trying to make time for tango as a busy working mom. I don’t think it’s any more demented than, say, scrapbooking. It seems valid to prioritize being present in my body and dancing to music that resonates with my soul. If it means we go out to dinner yet another night a week because I don’t have time to cook, so be it. My kid barely eats my cooking anyway. If it means my house is a wreck, nothing new there.

I also think that it’s a fantastic spiritual exercise to be a beginner at anything. To learn to love yourself through the stage of really sucking at something new. And to do an activity that forces you to connect to yourself and to other humans on this planet.

In short, I’m hooked.

Here are my first pair of Comme Il Fauts- the Jimmy Choo of tango shoes. SO worth the shin splints. Tango!

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