"You're musical"

When followers compliment me, usually it’s my musicality. I play and hear a lot of music so I thought that would be normal. However, honestly, I always thought that was a way to say something positive since my technique clearly is lacking in most areas. I believe in respecting everyone’s feelings and in a social setting like a milonga, I don’t care about mistakes or not doing it perfectly. I care about having a great moment while dancing with a person.

But, “musical” is good and I proud myself of that. And honestly, you don’t need crazy technique to have a wonderful dance. You just need two persons opening their heart for some musics or a whole tanda. I decided to tell this story because while reading this post by sallycat I remembered how important it is to dance with your heart open. And that’s what I learned at my last milonga.

A follower I know went to dance with a leader she considers amazing – he looks amazing to me too – and the person sitting next to him was a follower I had never danced with. I decided, why not? She looks friendly and I should capitalize whenever I feel like dancing with a new person. She seemed very humble and happy to dance a bit more before the milonga was over. I didn’t feel any of the “so, are you that good to invite me?” vibe or the more usual “ok, let’s dance, I’d rather dance than just be sitting I guess…” vibe.

At the beginning of the dance I told her that I was a beginner. I know I shouldn’t have: it’s too much information. But I immediately felt we had an open channel of truth and she just smiled at me. I danced very slowly, very simple and just trying to get to know her, how she moves and how we were connecting. We only moved around half the room. Simple, slow movements, with the music. On the second music I felt we were connected and in sync right from the start and I danced with my heart. I moved like I felt like and only did things that my body knows by now how to do them on its own. Things I’ve practiced enough times to be confident enough to play with their timing. Simple things of course, I’m a beginner.

It was clear to me that she was enjoying the simple moves, the slow turns, the pauses. At a point in the music, we stayed together for about 10 to 20 seconds, just feeling the music, the pause in movement, the moment that made that dance magic and unique. We moved a quarter of the room. When the music ended she said “You’re not a beginner“. I smiled back.


  1. Hey, thanks for the link in this post, and for reading my blog.
    It’s lovely to read about your experience too.
    May you have many more like this one.
    Suerte from Buenos Aires!

  2. Good musicality seems to be quite a rare commodity amongst leaders. I was talking to a follower friend this weekend and she made the comment that she liked my musicality. As the conversation continued it seemed apparent that there were very few leaders she considered to have that quality. I asked her who in this milonga was musical and she pointed out less than 10% of the leaders there. Now assuming she only knows half the leaders there, that’s still quite a small proportion.

  3. Thanks Salycat!

    Hi David, I agree with that impression. I believe most dancers get into steps mode and forget about the music. I’ve met dancers that don’t like it specially, others that have never had the curiosity to get to know what they’re singing… It’s very confusing to me. If the lyrics complement the music it’s a wonderful experience to dance to it!

    I am going to post soon an entry concerning musicality and some views on how one should try and teach it. It’s tricky though, it takes a lot of time to develop and it is related to a very particular side of the personality. Some people just don’t feel much hearing music.

  4. Dear TangoPadawan,

    You are right–at the end of the day, all this is really about is listening to the music with your heart, and dancing with your heart. This can always be felt, without mistake.

  5. stilllifeinbuenosaires

    That’s beautiful. I love those moments.

    I need to stop saying, “I’m a beginner,” as well. It seems to extinguish a little mystery or initial spark. Good luck to you.

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