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Scenes from a Milonga

May 2022, Issue 9 “You cannot force a person to see you as someone they want to open up to; you cannot force a person to see you as someone they want to connect with; you cannot force a person to see you as someone they are bound to. None of this can be enforced, none of this is reached through struggling; for the reality of these is in nature and free flow is the way of nature. The natural opening up, the natural connection and the natural bond: cannot be attained through enforcement; but as the ocean is, it can also not be hindered or stopped. We cannot make people bond with us in ways that we wish them to; but when it does happen, it really happens, and cannot be undone.”

― C. JoyBell C.



By Harper Klay, Shonkinite Founder

6 minute read

Click on the video below to hear this Sketch in the author's voice

Dancing Argentine Tango has the power to possess, enrapture, and awaken.

The connection arouses flesh and pierces the deepest layers of the psyche. Relationships are made and broken, change form, cycle and return. Tango communities worldwide are a collective living organism. When an unearthing happens in multiple relationship dynamics, the community as a whole feels the recalibration.

I have lived in five different Tango communities, all unique with their own style, personality and flavor. One winter I watched a dynamic play out between multiple couples, singles, and dance partners. By spring there was resolution, but the months of darkened nights created an uncertainty throughout the community.

Mary and Vince, an American couple, had been dating for three years. Vince wasn’t the best boyfriend, WASP’ish leaning into cold yet loyal. Mary yearned for marriage and children and wondered if they were a right fit. The bond and practice of Tango was a glue that sustained their connection.

Alejandro, a dashing Spaniard and experienced dancer moved to the community. His arrival stirred hearts and hopes for possibilities off the dance floor. Katarina, an established Russian dancer with a competitive streak vied for the best dances and dancers and proposed they be dance partners. Alejandro accepted.

Katarina, dissatisfied in her ten year marriage to her American husband Frank, wanted a divorce. With a Spaniard as her dance partner, she took the physical step of moving out of their home.

Alejandro enjoyed practicing with Katarina but wasn’t interested in anything more. Alejandro had a warm heart and dancing eyes so it was easy for a starving woman to mistake his sincerity for interest.

Alejandro began dating another Russian woman named Olga, a stunning twenty something that routinely left milongas with different suitors. But Olga was truly interested in Vince. Aware of his relationship with Mary, she kept a watchful distance.

When Mary asked Vince for a break, Olga pounced. And Vince slipped into nights with Olga.

From the day Alejandro arrived to town, his heart jumped whenever he saw Mary. He knew she was coupled, and focused on his tango with her. The times he danced with Mary were his favorite moments of the milonga.

Both Alejandro and Vince were spending time with Olga. Olga passed gossip along from Vince to Alejandro about Mary. The unflattering information gave Alejandro enough courage to share and express his interest to Mary. After all, Mary and Vince were on a break. Mary confronted Vince about what he said as it contradicted Vince’s interest in wooing Mary back with the potential of a marriage proposal.

Katarina remained determined and persistent that Alejandro could be hers, weaving herself into Alejandro’s line of dance, interrupting conversations between Alejandro and Mary.

Mary weighed her options. Vince or Alejandro? With Vince she had years established and invested. But with Alejandro, there was a deeper stirring yet to be consciously articulated.

Mary chose Alejandro. She ended her relationship with Vince. Vince, irate with Olga, demanded Olga apologize to Mary and say it was all a big misunderstanding. Vince’s proposal attempt to Mary failed. Olga, angry with Alejandro for passing information on to Mary, dumped him. No one realized the relief Alejandro and Mary felt in freeing the tangles to be together.

Vince’s ego was very wounded. Olga didn’t get to be with Vince. Katarina didn’t get to be with Alejandro. Frank and Katarina divorced. Mary and Alejandro eventually married, had two kids and moved to Spain.

And these are scenes from a milonga.

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