I decided on the way home from the Denver tango festival that I was leading a secret life. This was not a double life, mind you, but a really secret life that almost no one in my family was privy to on an intimate, personal level. And those who know about my secret life as a tango dancer only know me as a tango dancer. I mean, for the most part, when tango dancers get together at the festivals, there isn’t a lot of time to discuss our personal lives, albeit briefly. We know little bits and pieces about others but it takes years and persistence to discover that what makes us tango dancers tick outside of a milonga.
For almost sixteen years, I have slipped out in the dark of night to dance tango at various venues in Los Angeles. In the early years, I danced four or five times a week. I practiced at least twice a week. I went to Buenos Aires for thirteen years every March and hung out at the milongas (place where tango was danced) nightly. Most of the time I danced in the afternoons, also. Sometimes, I attended the annual tango festival put on by the most famous local maestros in the world. And sometimes I just took classes or a week seminar. Sometimes I just walked the boulevards looking for the perfect tango shoes. It felt like no one in my family would know me in this life; and indeed, they still don’t know me in this life. They never will. And it’s not important.
On one trip, my youngest son, Aaron, was living and working in Santiago, Chile. He came to Buenos Aires to visit me and hung out with a best friend, but he still didn’t go to the milongas with me. Then I visited him in Santiago and he finally took me to a milonga on the outskirts of town. It was dark and seedy and the club was kind of mysterious. Aaron was slightly awed when the teacher asked me to dance and I felt special. I was still new to the art of following the man in tango, but I think I held my own.
I have had hundreds of little experiences that have shaped the woman I am today. A large part of the joy in my 60th decade has been informed by tango, the tango community, its music, and its beautiful aesthetic. When certain tango or vals or milongas are played in a milonga, my body and mind energize and it feels like I am in the fifth dimension. How lucky I am to have found such passion.
And it’s all mine. Of course, I share the dance with men, some I know very well and some I don’t know at all, but when it comes to describing how I feel about dancing tango to my family, I am silent, secretive. It’s my life. It’s my secret life.