Another tango milestone: surviving (and even enjoying!) my first birthday vals

birthday vals.jpg

There’s a delightful tradition in tango that, on your birthday, you get the dance floor to yourself for a vals, with a succession of partners coming to dance with you for perhaps 20-30 seconds each. This means you get to dance with maybe seven or eight followers in the course of the song, and have the entire floor to use as you please.

Of course, the downside to this is that you also get an entire milonga-ful of dancers as audience!

That prospect did make me rather nervous, especially as it was a very busy one, with a packed room.

There was a saving grace, however: Pablo had tipped me off to the plan, and I’d been able to request my own choice of song. I asked for the most tango-like vals: the Pugliese version of Desde El Alma!

This meant I was dancing to music I know and love, and mostly with familiar followers (though there were a couple with whom I’d never previously danced). I found that switching to a new follower every few phrases meant I didn’t really have time to feel self-conscious. 

The final part of the dance was with Julia, and I took full advantage of the empty room and her lovely walk to simply walk the final few phrases – and even managed to end perfectly with a cross! 

Several leaders congratulated me afterwards, saying it’s a big milestone. Leaders do, though, get the far safer version: we choose what to lead! A follower could be subjected to anything …

The rest of the milonga

I enjoyed the rest of the milonga too. A very high hit-rate on the music, and although fewer regular followers than usual, enough to keep me dancing most of the time – and appreciating an opportunity for some chat too.

A friend is off to BsAs soon, so we had an enjoyable conversation about that, though it left me feeling really jealous! I had briefly considered a spring trip in addition to the autumn one, but Steph eventually persuaded me that a four-week trip in October/November was enough for one year …

I also put my core vocabulary expansion plan into action. The aim was to incorporate the ocho cortado and cross into my dance in a fluid fashion. Knowing they are at a lower standard than my existing core vocabulary, though, I limited them to a few times per tanda, so that I didn’t disrupt the enjoyment of the dance.

With the ocho cortado, I do feel like three or four milongas is a realistic target to get comfortable with it. With the cross … I’m not 100% confident I’ll ever like it! But it is working, and followers keep telling me they don’t know what my concern is, so maybe I just need to shrug and not worry.

As usual, I danced through to the final tanda.

Image: Shutterstock 

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