The Tango is often referred to as the dance of love. But to me, it will always be the dance of life – Why! Because it takes two to Tango, so, shall we dance? Let’s dance!
It was a cold rainy Sunday afternoon when I stormed into a dance studio in downtown Santa Cruz. No, I wasn’t late; I wasn’t even trying to join a class. I was merely seeking shelter from the pouring rain, and that studio was the only open door I could find.
I was immediately greeted by Nina, a firecracker who mistakenly assumed I was her tardy new student. In a tissey she shouted: “Quick Jose join the other, warm-ups have already started!” Jose? As I looked around for a way out, curiosity got the better or me. The statue-like bodies of her students, flexing and stretching, caught my eye. I could not help thinking, “Am I in heaven or hell?” Feeling unworthy of a place in either, I decided to exit quietly through a side door marked – Emergency Exit Only. I did notice the sign – “Caution – Alarm will Sound,” but thought, those signs are never legit – Right? Wrong! Guess what, that one was!
“Woo. Woo. Woo.” Off went the alarm, and so too did Nina, with laser beam eyes affixed to mine. In a panic, I froze! The heat I drew from Nina was so intense my body began to thaw. With my olive oil tongue, I convinced Nina that the puddle I was standing in was rainwater. I was screaming, I am not Jose! I am – Enrique! Nina, realizing her mistake, made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. With a forgiving smile, she offered me a dry set of clothes and a dance class on the house, guaranteed to change my life forever. Would you refuse an offer like that? I didn’t! I was ready to dance.
Nina then announced, “Today! we dance the Tango! A dance born in the barrios of Argentina, a dance anyone can master if they watch their P’s & Q’s. Pints and Quarts – I thought – what does Ps & Qs have to do with dance, but before I could even ask a question, Nina explained your P’s are your POISE, POSTURE, PASSION – your Q’s – what you take from your partner. However, when I tried to inform Nina that Cue is spelled with a C, she snapped-” who cares about the Q, when the P – Passion is the point – Pair up- it takes Two to Tango.”
My knees began shaking, my palms sweating. I felt like I was about to deliver my very first icebreaker. My eyes were hunting but soon realized that the “hunter was indeed the hunted” when across the room, I spied a friendly smile, with a wink, beckoning me to come, to begin, what would become the dance of a lifetime.
Nina’s first lesson was about finding your balance. “For the dance to be successful, she explained you must find your balance and maintain it. Sometimes it is OK to lean on your partner – or allow your partner to lean on you. But if you’re continually leaning – too hard or too soft, the dance is doomed to failure. Lean if you must, but lean with gentle pressure, the same gentle pressure Mother Nature uses to convert a rosebud into a beautiful rose, the signature of the Tango. At times, I couldn’t help wondering if we were in a dance studio or a philosophy 101 classroom –But soon, we were dancing like contestants fit for “Dancing with the Stars.” I was feeling the Passion when Nina shouted: “Change!”… And I responded WHY?
That’s when I got Nina’s second lesson: “The only constant in life is change – and we must change with the changes. Let your partner go! And if changes were meant to be, time would let you know.” That day, as we kept changing and changing, I began to realize that perhaps our lives did not intersect by accident. That day, Nina taught me to recognize adversity as an opportunity. That day, I changed in more ways than I could have ever imagined. As Nina promise, from that day forward, my life changed forever.
Soon, I was back with my mystery partner as if we had never left each other. By then, every dancer had blossomed, from rosebuds to roses. But every rose has its thorns. Suddenly, the room began to feel smaller. We were now bumping into each other – even exchanging dirty looks with each other. It was then we got Nina’s third and final lesson. Be a love, not a fighter – at times, your partner will back you into a corner -then what do you do? fight your way out? No! Dance! Look for that opening and dance your way out. Sometimes we must dance or walk away to live to dance another day.
That day, I realized why the Tango is indeed the dance of life. Nina’s lessons changed my life forever. And so too will yours, if you always remember, whatever you do – find your balance, embrace change and know when to dance and when to walk away – Why! Because by now I am sure, you know – It takes – Two, it takes “Two to Tango.”