When a thirst for understanding turns into a deluge!

Tango is an extraordinarily skilled hunter, capable of looking deep into each of us, and figuring out the most reliable way to draw us in.

Once she’s captured us, she has many ways to leave us incapable of ever escaping her all-enveloping embrace. But I think with each of us, there was a singular weakness she used to ensnare us in the first place. With me, it was my thirst for understanding …

I think, therefore I’m curious

Curiosity is a huge driver in my life. If there’s one thing that will have me consistently invest time, effort and money, it’s understanding stuff.

Generally speaking, my need to understand is broad but shallow. Most of the time, satisfying my curiosity will be as simple and as rapid as a few minutes of Googling, or watching a YouTube video. Other things, I might need to read a book or two. Sometimes I feel the need to actually do something in order to achieve the still-basic level of understanding I desire (from driving a bus through riding a horse to flying a plane).

A few things draw me in a little further. Lock-picking is a recent example of this, after YouTube’s algorithm randomly decided to introduce me to The Lockpicking Lawyer. Lock-picking quickly went from something I’d never even thought about, to something I needed to understand, and then to try. I ended up buying a picking kit and a few locks, and investing enough time to achieve the low level of skill needed to reliably pick cheap locks, and tackle one or two more secure ones.

A few months later, I still watch the videos, and occasionally pick a lock, as there’s something rather meditative and pleasing about it, but my curiosity was essentially satisfied and I moved on to the next thing I needed to understand (police interrogation tactics, obviously).

Then there are the things that develop into obsessions! With me, these are so all-encompassing that I can only ever have one at a time, as it will end up consuming virtually all of my time, energy and money. Rock-climbing, motorcycling, track driving, photography … and now tango.

Curiosity was how tango first trapped me

How can two people move as one, when one of them has no idea what those movements are going to be, and the other generally doesn’t know more than a step or two in advance? A partner dance which is truly improvised was a concept I couldn’t really grasp, so this was the question I had to answer.

Of course, as I know now, that question can’t be properly answered in minutes … or hours … or days … or weeks …

By the time I had my answer, it was way too late to escape. My musical tastes had been rudely deleted without consultation, leaving me listening almost exclusively to tango. I could no longer live without the joy of turning music into movement. I was addicted to the physical, mental, and emotional sensations of moving seamlessly with another person. I was forever in search of the next level to my dance. And tango is now my sole topic of conversation, rendering me entirely incapable of conversing with normal human beings.

Always looking for what’s next

Generally in life, I’m all about the journey, not the destination. I’ve done my best to apply this to tango, with mixed success.

On the plus side, I began dancing in milongas the moment I was capable of keeping the fatalities within reasonable limits. I started to enjoy tango at way earlier stage than appears to be the norm. I was just one year into tango when I first visited Buenos Aires.

But at the same time, there was, until very recently, an impatience to reach the next level. Early on, I took every group class and workshop going, in addition to privates. Later, when I found that the vast majority of group classes were sequence-based, I switched almost exclusively to privates. And took a pretty constant stream of them, usually either weekly or fortnightly.

Another pause in my privates

The last time I decided to pause my privates for a time was in June of last year. As it turned out, that pause was a relatively short one, of six weeks – before I switched to learning to follow.

It was while I was in Buenos Aires that I saw that it was time for another pause.

I realised that I’ve sometimes been receiving input faster than I can process it. That was especially clear to me after the lesson with Gonzalo. It was so transformational than I immediately wanted another one, but realised that I needed time to really let the change bed in.

So much has changed in my dance that the last thing I need is more input. I wouldn’t so much be quenching my thirst as drowning in a deluge!

So for now, I’m just going to relax, enjoy dancing, and resume again as and when I feel ready – and once I’ve figured out whether or not it’s the right time to continue the adventure in following.

Next stop (literally, as I’m writing this on the train): the Sheffield Tango Festival!

2 thoughts on “When a thirst for understanding turns into a deluge!”

  1. When I first discovered this blog when you were beginning your tango journey Ben – way, way back in time – I think I had a sense that you were the same type of curious and focussed person as I am. And, so with Tango, I too had to get to understand all the perspectives, all the subtleties, all the secrets when I was first introduced to the dance some 12 years ago, after decades of dance leading up to that time: I’d danced jive, ceroc, salsa, batchata, and kizomba. None of them grabbed me and demanded my full attention the same way as Tango did.

    I completely get it Ben, there was and is NO escape!

    I’ve spent an absolute fortune on many if not all the published Tango books and videos, lessons, workshops and privates, not to mention travel and accommodation. Some people might think that’s totally crazy and irresponsible but I know that you now know what this feels like.

    Do you remember that I warned you this would happen?

    Liked by 1 person

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