MONTAUBAN-SUR-L’OUVÈZE, France – Last night there was a milonga in the French countryside. People came from all over, chasing the elusive thing.
Dancing tango around the world, I feel that I am part of an underground sect. We have our secret gathering places, milongas, and we even have our secret handshake, the tango embrace.
I danced with a woman who had been leaning against a wall. “Shall we speak in English, French, Spanish?” she asked, by way of introduction.
“Any of those will do,” I said, cockily.
“Or we could do German, Arabic…”
“Ooh, you speak many languages,” I said, feeling bested.
“One must travel,” she said dreamily, as if the mere mention of it transported her to far away places.
“And one must eat,” I said, taking refuge in that superficial land that comes so easily to me in the social world. I don’t want to offend but nor do I choose to soar. Ideally, one would speak in fragments of poems, I think, but I do not dare.
“Yes, one must eat,” she said, as if consulting her mind carefully. Then she added in slight rebuke to my flippancy, “and one must love and one must dance.”
With that, I was truly bested, so I shut my mouth and surrendered to our dance.
In tango as in life, some present a confident face to the world while there are others who show something blurry on the surface but harbor a seething ocean of passions and verse and beauty just below that unassuming veneer. I love to uncover that world as if it were a treasure because I know how much it means to be seen when you think yourself invisible, how cruel and lonely it can be to pass unseen through this life.
In our veiled encounters we practice a ritual that makes all others pale: we open ourselves up to a love that is multitudinous and multifaceted, endless. The milonga exists on another plane, outside reality. As Dinzel described it, tango is the search for freedom. Those freedoms are many: freedom from strictures, from conventions, from possession, from the limits of our very bodies. It is the freedom to show ourselves as we truly are and to see the other standing before us. It is the freedom to love.
To love is to see. To be loved is to be seen.