For many of us, our heart rates increase when we show up at a milonga. The adrenaline starts pumping, and we might wonder if a visit to the dentist might feel more relaxing. Why?
Because we’re intimidated, that’s why.
We notice that everyone around us is dressed to the nines. Those tangueros and tangueras all look so glamorous, serious, and scariest of all, they all look like they know what they’re doing! So we follow suit and put on our best tango game face. We want to be noticed, and hopefully anointed by, the ranks of those who “know what they’re doing.”
Unfortunately, it’ll never happen.
You know why?
Because no one’s really noticing us and our attempts to measure up.
Yeah. It’s true. But it’s not because we’re bad dancers, or that all those hours of lessons and practice have gone out the window.
It’s because everyone else around is too preoccupied with how they appear to us. They’re just as desperate as we are to be counted among those who “know what they’re doing.” Even the most experienced dancers will privately admit to being afraid that they don’t always “know what they’re doing.”
This (sometimes hilarious) phenomenon is especially apparent in huge cities, where people tend to be really ambitious and competitive. That’s not always a bad thing, though, as a culture of ambition can often motivate us to do our best.
But taken to an extreme, it’s a breeding ground for insecurity and incessantly feeling intimidated. And it’s all based on the illusion that we need to be recognized as good dancers by some mysterious them…some mysterious group of tango overlords who “know what they’re doing,” noticing our every step (or misstep) and judging us for it.
But pull back the curtain and we’ll find no wizard.
So unless we’re being really obnoxious at a milonga, no one will notice our dancing in the way that we fear. Although it’s understandable to put up a little façade, dropping it is usually more enjoyable.