Before I learned how to dance, I remember a particular tango song making an impression on me. The song was Por una Cabeza, although I didn’t know the title at the time. And because I also didn’t know how to make full use of this new thing called the internet, and Google was only a few months old, I went to the nearest music store and headed for the CD section. I grabbed the first tango album I saw, not that there many to choose from. It was a compilation album of tangos from different eras. And I hoped that by blind luck, the song I was looking for would be among them.
It wasn’t, which didn’t surprise me. I knew it was a longshot.
What I did find were a bunch of scratchy-sounding old tunes sung by some guy I never heard of named Carlos Gardel. The sound quality was so bad I initially thought there was something wrong with my speakers.
What was so great about this music? Did people out there really like this weird old stuff that my grandparents probably didn’t even remember? I didn’t understand it. And although I had grown up around music all my life, I never heard anything like this before.
I clearly didn’t love the CD, but for some reason decided to keep it anyway.
Many years later, I was digging through my old things and happened upon that first tango album. By then, I was a solid tango addict. As a more experienced dancer, hearing all those old scratchy-sounding songs was a completely different experience. What was once strange and seemingly outdated was now sentimental, passionate, and evocative of a million pleasant memories. I would never have guessed that one circular piece of plastic could possess the power to do such a thing. It was almost like magic – and the weird thing was I had it with me for years, just sitting in an old shoebox where I kept my other CDs.
Asking our fellow dancers about their first impressions of tango almost always leads to interesting conversations. What did we think of the music? Did we like it? Did we hate it? What were our first lessons like?
Very few of us expected tango to impact our lives the way it does. We can talk about how much more enjoyable our social lives are now that we dance regularly. And we can talk about the many positive effects tango has on our well-being.
But reflecting on our first impressions is special and unique, because it’s remembering the very moment that tango changed our lives. It’s a moment to be appreciated.
Only at the time, we just didn’t know it yet.