Several years ago on a hot, humid evening, I drove over two hours to attend a milonga. I was nervous, because I didn’t know too many people in that city, but excited at the same time.

When I arrived, I was initially disappointed. Only three other people were there, one of whom was the DJ. And on top of that, no AC.

Will we have fun at the next milonga? We hope so. We hope it will be well attended (preferably with more than four people), and that all our friends will be there. We hope the music will be good, the floor won’t be too sticky or slippery, and that we’ll find a good parking spot outside the venue. We hope to dance well, to find a good place to sit, and that we’ll successfully lead or follow the fun new step we learned.

Although it’s great when all the stars align and everything listed above works in our favor, it’s not smart to judge a milonga as good or bad only by those unpredictable factors. Nor is it a good idea to show up, and just hope that something good happens to us.

So what about that milonga where the only people who showed up were the DJ, two dancers, and me? I got to know them really well. They shared insights on steps that I hadn’t learned, I knew stuff that they didn’t know, and the DJ was happy to answer all my music questions whenever a great song came on. We bonded, shared stories, and had some good laughs.

It ended up being one of the funnest tango experiences I can remember.

A fun milonga doesn’t just happen to us because we’re lucky. It’s fun because enough people went there with the intention of making it so. Not just for themselves, but for those around them.

We’ve taken the big step of learning tango in the first place, which is the act of leaving our comfort zone in ways that most others won’t. It’s a good bet that having fun requires the same initiative.

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