When we start learning tango, it takes a lot of brainpower to figure out how to move with a partner, lead and follow, and navigate our way around the floor at our first milonga. At that stage, there’s nervousness and sometimes even frustration. But as we become experienced, we move more smoothly, with better balance, and connect more easily with partners and music.
In time, we achieve the sensation of dancing instead of walking, and we’re filled with a sense of accomplishment where everything feels exciting and new. And that’s part of what makes us come back for more.
Then, we find out that there are always new steps to learn and more technique to improve. These additional growing pains can reshape our perception of a familiar figure (or even the entire dance itself). It can be scary, because we’re likely to question our competence as dancers along the way.
We feel like beginners once again, unsure of ourselves as we relive the emotions of our early tango selves. It’s unsettling and embarrassing, and the reason why some choose to stop learning.
But in reality, nothing has gone wrong.
Feeling like a beginner over and over again, strangely enough, is a sign that our tango is advancing to a higher level. And bear in mind that by pressing on and accepting ourselves as “constant beginners,” we also get to relive the familiar thrill of grasping a new figure for the first time. It’s those moments that keep tango exciting and new, regardless of how long we’ve been dancing.