A spontaneous decision to go and visit my daughter takes me to Berlin for a week while Frank stays in Passopomo. It feels strange, separating from each other, and that in itself is still a strange feeling. I used to be someone who welcomed space to herself after being together non-stop for a few days with someone, no matter how much I loved them. But with Frank it is different. I just never tire of his company, his warmth in body and soul, and the sun we both light in each others’ hearts. Everything we do together is doubly precious and intensive, deeper, wider, happier, crazier. When our relationship started, it was a wonder how easily we joined two completely independent lives with properties 200km part and completely separate sets of friends and family. Love overrode all logistic obstacles. Having just come out of a long distance relationship, it was clear to me that I didn’t want more of the on-off nature that living separately gives to a relationship. But neither did we want to give up either of our homes. So we started living in both places, always travelling together from one to the other; a pattern developed that could be described as a long distance relationship with our houses instead of each other. We have found a deep love and companionship in each other and it still feels so amazing to wake up each morning and feel blessed to have such a precious person right next to me.
Anyway, I digress. Back to Berlin. It is really good timing to be here, as I have finally received the go-ahead from the Rudolf Steiner School, the venue for the Tango Mango, so now I have a few day’s work to do until I can open the booking lines, which would have been difficult in Passopomo where there is no access to the internet.
After a solid slot of 8 hours on the computer, I decide it is time to close the thing and go dancing. Mala Junta offers Sunday afternoon dancing, so I wrap myself up (it’s about 15 degrees colder here than in Sicily) and brave the icy pavements to throw myself into the arms of the Berlin Tango community.
I meet some good friends and have some lovely dances with them, but once they are gone, I don’t receive any cabeceos (invites to dance, per eye contact). I don’t mind at all, it’s a joy to just sit and watch the high level of dancing, close embrace, musical, a small and intimate style, and it gives me time to reflect on Tango. What a contrast to the Tango I’ve been to in Catania where the dance floor is a mirror of the Sicilian roads, with everyone racing and cutting across each other with scant regard for the other’s trajectory. In Catania, the men use too much force in their arms and consequently the women don’t know where their axis is, and neither of them are listening to the music it seems. Of course there are exceptions, and you can spot them straight away – they are like islands of calm in a stormy sea.
After a while though, watching the dancing at Café Dominguez in Berlin, I come to notice that this is not the only contrast. In Catania, despite the size of the community (on a Saturday night, there are about 200 people at the event), a newcomer is instantly noticed, welcomed and invited to dance. The dance may lack technical finesse, but the enthusiasm oozes out of everyone. Today in Berlin, I seem to be invisible as a newcomer, unless I go and verbally ask for a dance, which I don’t really like to do. I love the cabeceo too much. From my settee, I watch people going on with the business of dancing and wonder if they even enjoy themselves. They look so serious, or possibly bored. I don’t see anyone leaving the dance floor with that special glow of just having had a wonderful time. And although their dancing is very nice, it’s also a bit much of the same – tango can be so different from one person to the next, but tonight it’s quite unified and somehow turned in on itself. I wonder which I prefer – a technically good dance but lacking the inner emotion, or a dance where I have to fight for my axis or my space on the dance floor but feel the other person is thoroughly enjoying themselves and the dance, where we’re making a heart to heart connection. Ideally, I’d like to have my cake and eat it, but if I have to choose…
Which one would you choose?
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