I wanted to learn tango because I wanted to get closer to Argentina. I knew that I would be visiting the country on vacation for a few weeks in May of 2010. I knew no one there but had the name of a tango instructor, Carina Mele. My friend in my Spanish class sent her an email and arranged for me to meet her while I was there so that I could take a few lessons. I was scared to death but said what the heck.

To me, I find it unsatisfying to simply visit another country without knowing the language or something important about the culture. That is why I continue to take Spanish and
study the tango. I am a terrible dancer. I do not like to dance. I get flustered and self-conscious. However, I think that it is important to get outside of our comfort zones in order to grow. That is why I like traveling to foreign countries by myself. That way I get very challenged and feel as though my senses are at an all time high while I am there.

But let's get back to the tango. I have studied it now for 8 months. I can do most of the basic steps pretty well. I am trying to dance more to the beat of the music. I get very frustrated though and have to remember to stick to my plan: one year of basic classes; then I will try the intermediate classes. After two years, I will go to a milonga. I have gone to 3 now and each one has been a mini-disaster. Too many folks on the dance floor and I have trouble with turns. Not a good combination. Waiting is best for me.

While I was in Argentina, I realized how important the tango is to the core of the country. I heard the music while walking down Defensa street in San Telmo and saw people practicing in parks and plazas. I went to Ideal and enjoyed watching the couples parade around the room during an afternoon milonga. I saw men in their 70's dancing with hot women in their 30's and realized that I will have no interest in golf when I reach that age.

Now when I am going about my day I think of and practice the steps while I am waiting for a traffic light to change or cooking dinner in my kitchen. Basic step, transfer the weight, forward ochos, paradas, backward ochos...will you get the picture. I play the music constantly while I am driving the countless number of miles each week in order to do my job as a salesman. I watch you tube videos on various teachers and performers. It feels good to be so in love with an art rather than a sports team or an intense activity like biking or basketball. I grew up playing lots of sports but this feels quite different now...dancing and thinking of dancing. Many of my friends think that I am a little nuts and that is ok. If they only knew how good it felt when both partners connect and click. That is what I strive for each time. If they themselves felt this connection, they too would become tango dancers.

In the last few months, I have lost close to 10 pounds. I have done this by watching what I eat but more importantly I watch myself in the mirror and realized that I need to shed some weight to enhance the beauty of the dance. I feel much, much better now that I am dancing several nights each week.

Finally, one of my fantasies is this. I continue to get better and after another year or so return to Buenos Aires...Spanish is better, dancing is much better and I connect with my very first instructor Carina Mele. She is still dancing and teaching. I arrange to take a few more private classes with her and completely blow her away with my progress. To see that surprise look on her face would make all of this effort that much more enjoyable.

Jeff Hawley from USA

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