Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why I May Be Done With Tango

The tango community is a cold and cruel bunch.

I heard the other day that they still gossip about Jaimes and I now, years after we're done. What do they say after all this time? Apparently some people think I planned it all to be this way. Just like this.


Raising a child basically on my own?

An over-controlling ex who started sleeping with a close friend of mine when my baby was months old and eventually left me for her, and who tries as hard as he can to dictate every detail of my life even now? Who is condescending and mean, who has no respect for me, who disappears for days or months at a time, leaving me to find a way to explain to Ravenna that I know she wants to see him, but he's not around, I have no way to get ahold of him, and I don't know when he will next have time for her?


I planned it to be exactly like this. Every last detail. Because this is awesome. I couldn't imagine a better situation.


If I had PLANNED anything, I would have planned to stay with Evan. I was so happy with Evan. He created joy in my life.

It's just as well that we did not stay together - he has thrived since we split, grown and matured and really settled in his life, in ways that maybe he never could have had he still been here with me. But for me, if I had planned anything back then, I would have planned to have stayed with him.

Instead, I let Jaimes sweep me back away. Look where that got me.

So there's that.

The gossips sure got that right.

Then there are logistics. I can't be around Jaimes. I can't be around Christa. There is too much baggage. And they both have too little care and too little respect for me as a person. It nearly always ends up badly for me, much better for me to just keep a distance and firm boundaries. I want to enable Ravenna to have a loving, functional relationship with her father, but for myself, I need distance and space.

This means that a number of tango events and opportunities that I might normally be drawn to are off limits. For my own sanity and well being I have to stay away.

And having a two year old child 24/7, 7 days a week, 12 months a year, makes it that much more difficult, logistically, to get out. Even if she is incredibly adaptable. Even if she is amazingly tolerant about going out to these things and keeping odd hours and allowing me some space when we are out to maintain and nurse my relationship to this dance. It's still hard to find the time. And to balance everything.

Then there are the dances themselves, when I am able to make it out.

Once in a while I go out, I connect really well with my partner, I lose myself in the music, I feel that I am expressing myself to all my potential, and I remember why it is that I love this music and this dance and everything that has kept me all these years.

But that is rare. Most times, nobody asks me to dance.

Then when I ask, if I ask, maybe they will dance with me. But often only for a few songs, and often projecting an attitude that they are certainly doing me a great favor.

I used to think that it was because I was so often there with Ravenna and people didn't know how to ask me in the context of me being with her. But it's so much of the time, and it's just as much when I find somebody to spend the evening with her and I go out on my own as it is when I am out with her in tow.

Yes, I am out of shape in the dance. I don't have the control over my body to execute technique and movement to the degree that I would like. It doesn't help that I don't have the opportunity to dance much, to get that feeling and control back into my body. Even when I go out to the practices and the dances this remains the case. I spend 3 hours at a practica, of which I get to dance maybe 10, 20 minutes. This is not enough to tone a body. So the situation perpetuates.

Body tone aside, I still have the knowledge. The want. The desire. The love of the music. The love of the aesthetic.

But it doesn't seem to matter.

I didn't spend six years of my life learning this dance so that I could go out and feel like everyone around thinks I am not worth dancing with!

So tonight, for instance:

Tonight was a good night. I was happy. Earlier on, I taught a lesson. It felt so good. I had a feeling of being grounded and in touch with my body.

So a bit later, Ravenna and I stopped in at the practica, and I was in high spirits.

The practica - I'm there, people there come up, say hello, they are friendly, but then they look at me with these shifty eyes that say, "Please don't put me in a position where I feel obligated to dance with you, I really don't want that...and oh! Over there, I have to go, there is somebody I'd be upset if I were to miss dancing with tonight."

Not one. Not a few. Most.

Most people. People I have known for years. People I have often quite enjoyed talking to, interacting with, and yes, dancing with.


I started in such high spirits, but I left the dance in tears.

This is typical of my tango experience these days.

Why do I keep going? I don't really know. But nights tonight I feel like it's my own damn fault if I end up feeling this way again, if I'm dumb enough to continue to go out. Like, really, it's maybe just time to sever my relationship with this dance.

Not because of the dance - I love the dance, I love the music - but because of the community. This cold community of people that make me feel so unwelcome. I'm some sort of idiot if I keep letting that into my life. I have good friends, other artistic outlets, great things in my life...tango just sullies it and brings me down.

So maybe I'm approaching the end.


snarlydwarf said...

hrrmph. sounds like my relationship with a certain online game... it saps the fun out of it when people are more interested in gossip.

But.. this is a choice you need to make: if tango is something you enjoy, perhaps a new social sphere would be better. (ie, it's not that I hate online rpg's, I still love ffxi.. I just hate the gossip and BS that went along with ROM.)

Are there other tango groups there that are less gossipy?

I would hate to see you cut out something you enjoy just because other people are more interested in gossip than dance..

Is it your fault? Well, to some extent it is: you need to have more faith and confidence in yourself. Who cares what bs those people come up with? You probably trust and like them too much: sharing too much of your life with them when they don't deserve it. A touch of bitterness never hurt (just don't let it eat you).

As usual, look at my life if you want an example of doom and despair. (Well, okay, my old life... current life is good.. but I wasted years with people that for the most part really wanted nothing to do with me...)

Make a break if you have to: but it doesn't have to be a full break from the dance and certainly should not mean that you have less enjoyment in life.

But there's a plain fact
We talk so much shit behind each other's backs
I get the willies
People know nothing about their own soft gut
So how come they can sum us up
Without suffering all the hype we've known
How come they bum us up

How many friends have I really got?
Well, you can count 'em on one hand
How many friends have I really got?
How many friends have I really got?
That love me, that want me, that'll take me as I am?

-- The Who

(And, yeah, a sort of depressing song: focus on the part that there are friends who love you and take you as you are... the rest, well, not worth the trouble.)

Tegan said...

One thing I've had some success with when I feel pulled down by drama in a dance scene is to seek out newer dancers who are less deeply into it. Especially those who are promising dancers but are socially awkward or shy and don't seem to know the established crowd very well. They might be influenced to think differently if you're the first to reach out to them.

Anonymous said...

Take a good look at yourself in the mirror. Is it your own self-involved view of the world that is keeping you from connecting?

Mary said...

I was starting to feel that way about swing dancing before I left Seattle. I still miss it now. =/ I hope you can figure out something that lets you still keep your passion for the dance.

Anonymous said...

One sad fact of life is that everyone you know will eventually disappoint you somehow. With the good people, it doesn't happen very often.

Closed communities can be brutal when they are comprised of small, petty people, as this one seems to have in abundance. The only solutions that come to mind (and I know you didn't ask for any ;) ) are to find a new community or put a smile on your face and let this crap wash off you. If you don't show that it bothers you, perhaps it will not happen as often. Many people revel in causing pain.

Then again, I can count my friends on one hand and have a few fingers left, so what do I know?

DeEtte said...

YOU are a beautiful dancer - never forget that!