It was my sixth tango lesson and our 50 minutes were up.
I wanted to cry, scream or come. Maybe all three. I didn’t understand it, but my emotions spiraled out of control after every lesson.
I had always simmered with a sensual passion I couldn’t focus or channel. And tango had turned the simmer to a boil. With each and every step, pivot and boleo the flame burned hotter. Every time we stepped into our close abrazo embrace, my breasts cradled firmly against his chest, I felt my primal essence emerging. Every time he directed my movements with a sacada, the precise push of his leg against my own, I stepped a little deeper into the inferno of my untamed hunger. By the end of my lessons I was certain I was one dance away from transforming into some kind of tango dancing succubus.
My instructor watched as I slipped out of my heels and into my flip-flops.
“I am so happy,” he said in his thick Argentine accent.
“I love dancing with those who have passion…I can sense it.”
I swallowed the lump in my throat and nodded, “I think I have a little too much passion.”
“Yes. It is why you came to tango. If you are not crazy, tango will make you so,” he said vehemently. “But for people like us, it will calm us down.”
“And by people like us, you mean people who already are crazy?”
He laughed and nodded. “Tango is a reflection of life,” he said. “The lessons you learn in tango can be applied everywhere else. Keep dancing and you will see.”
I didn’t believe him. Tango was making me feel anything but calm. But I took his advice and kept dancing.
And guess what? He was right.
The first lesson: Create Space.
In tango we take large steps, creating space for movement. As a highly passionate person I tend to either dwell in or run from emotions instead of creating space to let them be. I often cling to what is, not allowing room for what can emerge. When I expand with spaciousness, possibilities open before me, emotions move through me and there is freedom of movement. With space comes growth and flow.
The second lesson: Pause & Slow Down.
Tango is full of long pauses dictated by the music. When I’m moving too quickly, in a hurry to get to where I think I should be, the last thing I’m hearing is the music. In life I am much the same. Impulsive and impatient. Often I try to force movement when life is really asking me to be still. When I pause and slow, I can hear the guidance the present moment is offering.
The third lesson: Surrender Control.
Tango is an invitation. If I want to accept that invitation I have to surrender to the guidance of the leader. I have a sneaking suspicion my Higher Power is watching me tango and hoping I’ll take this one to heart. After all, what makes me think I know the next steps of my life better than the One who created me? Life is an invitation to step into our soul’s purpose, our radiance, and joy—but I can’t accept that invitation if I’m holding, white knuckled, to my plan for how I’ll get there.
The fourth lesson: Dance on the Edge.
In tango we perform movements on the inside edge of the foot. It feels unnatural. But I know that my dance will be far more beautiful if I heed these instructions. And I know that my life will follow suit if I can traverse the edge. The inside edge to be specific. This means going within and facing that which feels “edgy” and frightening. No, it doesn’t feel natural. But each time I step out of my comfort zone and walk along that edge, I step a little further into my true beauty and power.
And the fifth lesson: Practice Restraint.
There’s no denying that tango is hot. Smoldering, panting, forget about dancing, push me up against the wall and fuck me hot. But if I acted on the desire between a dance partner and myself, tension would be lost and the dance would suffer. If instead, I can feel the want, channel it through my body and into the dance… beauty is born. In life I often feel an intense desire for a thing, person or experience. When I pursue it full force, usually with little consciousness, my life-force is drained and I suffer. I’m finally learning that it’s far more beneficial to be with my desire, accept it and either let it go or channel it into something productive and positive.
Thanks to tango I am learning to live a more balanced, beautiful and passionate life.
Give it a try. Whether you need more calm in your life or you need more crazy, tango will give you exactly what you need. Whatever arises, remember: It’s just a reflection of life.
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Assistant Ed: Kristina Peterson/Ed: Bryonie Wise