There are times when tango brings people prolonged angst. If you find yourself constantly complaining about the frustration you feel from tango, read on. Sometimes the pain comes from things within our control – and it’s up to us to decide whether to change, or move on.
#1. Expectations. The easiest way to suffer constant disappointment is to have expectations. You cannot expect the best dancers to seek you out. You cannot expect organizers to run events the way you want. And you cannot expect people to dance differently, act differently or be who they are not. Expectations will poison your life with constant resentment. Instead, focus on the real reason we go to a milonga.
#2. Negative self-fulfilling prophecy. If you constantly attribute bad nights to things like, “They are too snobby to dance with me”, or “I don’t get asked to dance because…”, you are single-handedly poisoning your own life. Our words, thoughts and beliefs create the experience we have in life. It’s called the Law of Attraction and it’s one of the most powerful things you’ll encounter in life. If you won’t change the victim mentality, you will never find true fulfillment in dance – or life. This often bleeds into #3….
#3. Not taking ownership. Some people have no idea why they sit out more than they like or get passed over by desired partners. Sometimes it is due to things we can change. We can fix poor balance, improve our technique and correct our embrace. Sometimes it’s as simple as being friendly and more social. Failure to ask for honest feedback (or work with a pro) may mean you never know why others avert their eyes when they see you. If you are paying $15 to sit all night and leave mad, it’s up to you to figure out why.
#4. Not investing. Whether you want to perform or simply social dance, tango does take work (practicas, solo practice and practice partners!). Social dancing requires us to learn the art and technique of feeling enjoyable in another person’s arms. We all have to work at it. Sometimes misery comes from not knowing how to do something skillfully and being held accountable for that. If you aren’t investing much into it, you may end up dancing mostly with people who don’t invest either. If that’s okay with you, great! If it’s not… change what you are doing or move to a dance style that is more forgiving.
#5. It just isn’t fun anymore. There is an awesome world outside of tango. Some people might be more at home in dance communities such as swing or ecstatic dance, which allows a completely different kind of expression and playfulness. Some people never fully connect to the music, tango culture or the community they are in – and that is okay! Tango isn’t for everyone. If it doesn’t feel like home, it probably isn’t. Find the community or style that nourishes your soul.
Tango is not a free ride. It asks for our commitment, our vulnerability, our heart and soul. Simply dancing tango entitles us to nothing. I have been constantly humbled in this journey. And I’ve learned that I’d rather be humbled (and make changes) than quit.