Sunday, April 29, 2012

how one merengue made my night

I've started going out for salsa nights again recently, after having nearly abandoned it in my social dancing life what with all the swing and blues dancing I've been doing over the past couple years.  I love the atmosphere and usually enjoy the DJing at Brasil's, but I'm still trying to figure out a pattern as to which nights typically have good attendance and good dancers.

This past Friday turned out to be a little emptier than I had hoped for, so I was panning the floor in between dances to seek out who might be good to ask next (as opposed to the busier nights where I might barely be able to escape the floor to grab a cup of water -- not always such a bad thing).  Towards the end of the night, my new merengue obsession song came on.  I wasn't about to miss out on it, so I figured a good bet might be to ask a lead with whom I had danced a nice bachata early in the night.

Turned out he was pretty good at merengue too.  Then halfway through the song he said, "You know, I don't usually like merengue very much."  I was a little surprised -- he clearly wasn't clueless on how to dance it.  And I felt complimented since I took this to mean he was enjoying it more with me.  So I told him this was one of my favorite songs, and he responded, "I can feel it."  I pretty much glowed inside at this.  To me it meant I had made a connection with him, even though we had never met or danced before.

I was all smiles and happiness as we finished out that song and danced the next one too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

dreamed of dancing

For years, the only dreams I have been able recall when I wake up are disturbing, uncomfortable, or unsettling somehow.  I wouldn't call them nightmares because they aren't directly scary, but they do leave me wishing for someone to comfort me when I wake up -- or at least trying to push them out of memory as soon as possible.  I often wish friends "sweet dreams" when I say goodnight because of how rarely I experience the same in my own sleep.

Yet, yesterday morning, I awoke from a beautiful, strong moment in a dream.  I was dancing with a partner on a wide open smooth wood floor.  The atmosphere held a feeling of lightness and flow.  Others may have been there, but they were at the far-off perimeters of the space, their existence muted to my awareness.  I don't know who my partner was, but sensed he was someone meaningful, someone skilled, important to the realm of dancing at large yet also somehow to me.  I felt that while I knew what I was doing, knew how to move with him, it took my special effort and concentration to keep up.  It was an edge which I had been invited to cross, because maybe I could.

The movement was lyrical and sweeping and expressive,  far from that of a quiet close embrace, yet just as emotionally powerful.  I felt a layer of nervousness almost like it was supposed to be there, but greater was the feeling of letting go, being taken by moving to the music with this person.  And I knew that I was reaching it, this level that I felt lucky to have been offered, doubting whether I was worthy.  I was there.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Life companionship

I think I've figured it out.

As I briefly visited yet another precious kitten in the window tonight - this one a lovely white and black - the realization came to me.  If I don't find someone to marry, I'm going to become a cat lady.  And I guess I'll just go out dancing until I'm too old to do it anymore, and every night I'll come home and cuddle with my cats.

This is not to say I'm in a rush.  I'd probably even say I'm in the opposite: there is so much I want to do and try before the (ominous?) step of "settling down".  I get to live on my own schedule, go where I want to, dabble in activities, and so on.  I don't have anyone with whom I need to coordinate everything.

But living alone does get lonely sometimes.  Makes me wish for someone to be around to come home to.  Maybe this just means I can't have everything at once, eh?

Notes from the first milonga of my life

When I was taking the beginner Argentine tango series with Lori and Sam at Sangha Space, they talked about how great the monthly Tango Hop dance is so much that I had to try it.  My schedule finally allowed it this weekend, so I took the train out to Media in time for the intro lesson.  (Figured it's been a month or longer since I finished the lesson series, so I may as well remind myself what was going on.)  At the end of the lesson they tipped us on how a milonga is structured: a sequence of three songs of similar style is followed by a short non-tango clip (someone later mentioned that's the 'cortina') during which you lead your partner back off the floor; then repeat.  So it seems people usually dance the three songs in a row with one partner before switching.

I watched quite a lot, especially as more experienced dancers filtered in over the course of the night.  Many of those who looked like they know what they're doing were probably middle-aged (much more in line with the westie scene than the lindy/blues scene).  Over my first half hour or so of observation, I began to pick out a few who looked like the good leads I might want to dance with, to begin - theoretically - picking up more of this dance by following.  The beginner's fear/respect kept me from asking any myself, but oddly enough, three of them eventually came and asked me to dance.  Maybe I looked lonely sitting by myself sometimes...?

All of them were quite forgiving and even ran through moves that confused me a couple times or paused to show me how to follow something.  I'm sure I was lacking knowledge of many moves (most noticeable to myself being the flicks, I think) but as to actually following where leads were trying to move on the floor, I think I did pretty well.  Many thanks go to all my following practice from blues for this, I'm sure.  One of them did say I was doing well, which was a lovely compliment for me.  Of course I'm hoping I wasn't screwing up following in a way that somehow still fit into the flow - if I start picking up wrong technique, it'll be detrimental...

The music was mostly traditional but a few of the three-song sets (there must be a name for those) were not tango music at all, so this was basically fusion and of course that made me all happy.  A Melody Gardot song and that song Cyclone both made me want to do blues, naturally.  Others sounded like they could work for country two-step?  But I'm probably just ignorant.  Seeing people dancing to the fast tempos was pretty interesting.  I even survived a round of fast songs myself - a whirlwind ride around the floor; have to say the lead was excellent at weaving around everyone, haha.

I met a girl and a guy who I think both have been taking lessons through the Penn Tango club, as well as a guy who lives in Glenside, and I tried to explain to them all what blues dancing is.  Not that I'm ever able to give a simple yet satisfactory explanation or even demo it too well on my own.  They were all intrigued though which was fun (and sometimes I can't help myself telling how much I like it).

A hilarious surprise was seeing a guy I knew from my original salsa days at Take the Lead.  I had NO idea whatsoever that he also did tango, and then when we danced, he was awesome at it!  And he also managed to correct/teach me a number of things.  Love it.

I met another man, Tony, who started telling me about how he's danced tango for so many years, is totally addicted to it, how his style of leading is different and pulls from the follow's footwork, and what it's like when he goes to Buenos Aires to dance: spending five hours on end dancing, and the older ladies are the best follows.  After somewhat intimidating me with this seemingly nostalgic speech he offered to dance the next little set, and he was really incredible.  I have some doubts that I was doing the footwork all correctly, though...  Wish I could see what I looked like following.

People I wish I had danced with: Sam, Godwin (not only because he's experienced and he rotated through the lessons sometimes, but he once tested my following and said something like, "okay you know what you're doing"...hehe), the guy from Glenside, and Josh who I know from blues - although, I think despite how many times I've danced blues or at Jetlag with him, I'm kind of intimidated to try tango as he looks really experienced too!  Anyway: reasons to go back again.  Excited!

Monday, April 9, 2012

things I've learned while living in the real world

Life teaches.  And living on your own, I mean for real (not in college; that's kind of halfway there)*, is kind of a big unknown before you start doing it -- so there is a high concentration of lesson-learning in the beginning.  I realized this applies to general lessons, and to lessons about myself.  I was musing in the shower, so here are a few.

A shower curtain is pretty critical.  Plastic bags cut and tied together will NOT make a very good substitute.

A good friend with whom to laugh and take two-minute breaks at work does wonders on days that drag.  And on days that don't.

Paying for Starbucks drinks with your college dining plan dollars truly rocked.  Now, anything but a straight coffee is expensive.

Being able to leave work at work, and to not feel obligated every single night to be working on some kind of homework or project, is an undeniably AWESOME freedom.
    Follow-up: who says college is the best years of your life?

Showering at night is far less stressful than in the morning, when bus arrival deadlines loom.

Philly is an amazing city for loving good beer.

I like managing my own place to live... but sometimes, it does feel lonely.
     Addendum 1: No way do I want to live alone for my entire life.

Making friends with people who have cars comes in handy.  (I mean real friends, of course, who happen to be kind enough to give you rides.)

Utilities included in rent?  Seriously convenient.

Family is still there for you, loving, teaching, and supporting.  (* This is why I'm not 100% there.  It's still a process.)

The college sleep schedule, um, doesn't exactly work anymore.  It's a little more feasible, though still unhealthy, when you have classes at all different times of the day across the week, and you can show up and in many cases not have to be particularly productive (just hope that you don't fall asleep, if it comes to that).  For a 9-to-5 type of schedule?  Yeah, really not so smart.

It's sadly too easy to lose touch with college friends when everyone scatters geographically and begins busy lives somewhere else.

The (swing/blues) dance community is full of basically the best people ever.  (Westie is seeming pretty good so far too.)  I could go on about this. :)

Two ways to improve your commute:
     1. Move 20 blocks closer to the office.
     2. Take a bus route that operates right on schedule.  So much frustration relieved!

Becoming a local is fun.  The pizza shop guy knows my order every time I walk in.  Albeit small, it's a nice way to feel belonging.

24-hour CVS is the best kind.

Student loan repayments are - shall we say, a little painful?

One reason it's great to live in a city: you can get by, and even access many places fairly reasonably, without a car.  However, then you start discovering places and events a little out of reach without one.  See previous related point.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


My brothers and I had Thomas the Tank Engine model toys and I loved the TV show when I was little. :)