Earlier this year, I was invited to a potluck dinner and tango dancing at the home of one of the tango dancers in our community. When I got to this lovely home, I immediately wanted to know where the dancing was going to take place. Our dance floor for the evening turned out to be right off the kitchen, in what was obviously meant to be a formal dining room. The room had shiny hardwood floors and was completely bare of furniture. Imagine that! A room in one’s own home could be transformed into a dance floor. Something I’d never even considered. Afterwards, I began to look at my home differently, wondering whether I could transform one of the rooms in my house into a functional dance space.
About this same time, I went for a private Argentine tango lesson with Javier Rochwerger from Buenos Aires. Many of us (from our tango community) take private lessons with Javier whenever he’s in town. It’s far easier than going to Buenos Aires, though that’s certainly on my list. Alive with my newfound inspiration to create a dance floor in my own home, I told Javier about it. He replied, “Now, you’ve become a real tango dancer. I don’t know of a single person who is serious about tango who has an actual living room with furniture in it. Everyone has a dance floor, no matter how large or small.” Wow, again. Unbeknownst to me, converting one’s living room into a dance floor isn’t a new concept. It happens in Denver, Japan, Buenos Aires, and even Portland, Maine. And it appears that it’s a spontaneous manifestation that arises for those of us for whom tango has taken a particularly strong hold.
And so the transformation of my living room started. I first cleared out all the furniture and moved it to other locations throughout the house, finding a new spot for my piano and some other furnishings. Then I asked a friend with a truck to help me bring two upholstered chairs, a couch, a rug, and many throw pillows to a young married couple who were thrilled with this gift. I plan to mirror a couple of walls later this summer (after I finish a bathroom renovation).
To properly “christen” my tango floor, I invited our tango community to a potluck supper the day after the full lunar eclipse in June. I had asked our local tango band Tango Mucha Labia to play. The weather was lovely, candles were lit throughout the living room, and the floor was ready. Before the band played, I asked all the dancers to create a circle around the room. Then I told them how their presence and the presence of the live musicians were key to the christening of my dance floor, a floor that, from a feng shui standpoint, is in the absolute center of my home. In a room that has been used only about once a year for the past 30 years, I proclaimed that the act of reclaiming my living room as a dance floor was also about reclaiming the center of my life.
Then band began to play and Mike, the guitarist (who also has a PhD in math), said, “Hostess dance!” And there I was, in the center of my own home, on my own dance floor, on a moonlit night, with one leader after another taking me into his arms and whirling and twirling me around and around in the blissful joy that is tango.
A mere year before I had been terrified to go to the tango practices alone with neither a partner nor dance skills—in an arena where none of my previous accomplishments were enough currency to even get a leader to dance with me! Medical school was easier. At least it was a group activity. But because I had been willing to embrace it with a “beginner’s mind,” I was now awash in the sheer joy of the give and take of the dance, fully present and heart to heart with another dancer—for three intoxicating minutes. My daughters tried it, too, and thought it was like a trip to Never Never Land. No kidding.
But it doesn’t end there. My daughter and I also did a yoga class in the same room four days later. And so, little by little, I am moving out of old living patterns about what one “should” have in a room and, instead, asking myself exactly what I want to be doing with the space I have. A revelation.