First update in a while…

I have been trying to get back to WordPress for a while to post something new, but for some reason it’s been difficult. Finally, I have some time, a little inspiration, and so I’m back.

My Alma and I spent the first weekend of October in LA, mainly to see Gotan Project on Saturday night at Club Nokia. Now whether you like to dance to their music or not, I would recommend seeing them live. They were quite good, and the energy was infectious. We arrived on Friday afternoon, and checked into the exotic Figueroa Hotel (you can see a few pictures here). If you are ever visiting downtown Los Angeles, please consider staying there. It is a little older, and it doesn’t have all of the fancy amenities of a modern resort, but walking through her doors is a journey into another world and perhaps another time. It’s gorgeous and charming and seductive, and it’s located right next to Staples Center and LA Live, in the heart of downtown, so everything is within a very short walking distance.

Figueroa Hotel
Figueroa Hotel

Since we had an entire weekend away from the boys, and we were in a different city, we just knew we had to go to a Milonga. I asked my Facebook friend, Emily Ortiz, and she said that Milonga Querida at the Granada in Alhambra was the place to be. So after dinner, we merged into the nighttime traffic of the LA highways, and oh-so-slowly found our way to The Granada. I believe that, even though a combination of nervousness and excitement made the trip feel longer, it was only about 35 minutes door-to-door. There was plenty of free parking around the club, which was an unexpected bonus. We ended up in the parking structure directly across the street. There is an abundance of restaurants in the neighborhood, as well as inside the club. Should you desire, you could eat dinner, dance, and enjoy the decent bar selection, all in the same place.  Had we known this, we likely would have gone there earlier instead of eating in downtown.

This was our first Milonga at a place like this. Until now, we have only been to Milongas that took place in dance studios. There is something very different feeling about going to a dance club, though. I found that it was easier for me to forget about practicing my dance moves, and just letting myself dance. The facility is gorgeous, and even though it was a warm night, the A/C and the large fans kept it from getting overly hot on the dance floor. The Tango takes place in a good size room on the third floor, which has it’s own bar.  As one can expect, the prices at the bar are a bit inflated ($7.00 for a glass of wine, $3.00 for a bottle of water), but if it helps keep the place going, I am happy to contribute.  Since the parking was free, I think we ended up paying less than $40.00 total for the night, so all-in-all, it was pretty good for a lovely date with my wife.

During our dinner conversation, I told Alma that one of my goals that night was to ask a complete stranger to dance. It shouldn’t be too hard to do, since I wouldn’t know anybody there, but I still wanted to vocalize it, therefore committing to it. Alma agreed, and even though the idea still made me nervous, I began to prepare myself. I was preparing for rejection, for screwing up in the arms of a more experienced dancer, for bumping too many people on the dance floor, and for being too repetitive in my movements.  However, I was also preparing to overcome all that junk and to simply dance. I want to feel comfortable dancing with any woman, any place, and this would help me in that goal.

We arrived a little too late to join in the lesson, which was disappointing to me.  I always think it’s fun taking a lesson from someone completely new, and for Alma, the lesson helps her to warm up, and loosen up, which then helps her to dance better once the Milonga officially begins. Since we missed the class, we had to wait for twenty minutes or so before the Milonga would officially kick off. Remember that this was still Friday, and we had worked a full week, been up well before 7:00 AM to get the boys off to school, ran some errands in the morning, and driven about three hours to get to LA (not to mention the other things that come along with a romantic weekend getaway, ha!). Needless to say, by 10:00 PM, we were both a bit tired, and I wondered how long we could realistically last before we were completely spent.

Knowing all that, I understood that Alma was feeling very tired, a little grumpy, and a bit insecure. I can’t remember if she said it out loud to me or not, but I absolutely knew that she didn’t want to dance with anyone else that night. So, being a good husband, I shrugged off the disappointment of not being able to accomplish my goal of dancing with complete strangers, and when the two of us weren’t dancing, I sat close to her, with my arm around her, warding off any potential offers to dance. The two of us danced many times throughout the night, and I thought we danced… ok. There were several times when the line of dance looked just like the LA freeways, and everyone came to a complete halt for a bit too long, and I wondered if it would break up at all. A few times, I had to cut the corner just to help break up the gridlock. I’m not sure what the proper etiquette is there, but I did it anyway, even though I felt like I was taking cuts in line.

We had a really good time, but since Alma was in a little funk, it kept us from having a great time. Additionally, Alma was a little turned off by the fact that nobody introduced themselves to us. We would have been completely alone the entire night if we didn’t offer a spot at our table to a gentlemen that was obviously looking for an open space for he and his two guests to sit. They were all generous and fun people, and I’m thankful for our brief encounter with them. Not being approached by anyone bothered me less, because, well, let’s face it, I’m a man. Social interaction isn’t on the top of my to-worry-about list. Also, I was purposefully trying to protect my wife, which surely made us less approachable. Lastly, it didn’t bother me because we could have just as easily introduced ourselves to people, but I get her point – we were the guests.

The level of dancers there was quite impressive.  It was pure entertainment to sit back and watch the precision and artistry of the masses as they moved and turned, communicating with the music, each other, and even the dancers around them. It amazed me to see how well these dancers could express their Tango in such limited spaces! When Alma & I danced, I kept reminding her not to kick too high, and thankfully, we never had any incidents.

As the night wore on, there was a birthday celebration, and several wonderful performances. I’m not familiar with everyone that performed that night, but they were all poetic, and inspirational – Especially the milonga! Oh, that was just pure joy in motion, and I am grateful that I was able to witness it. I made a note to myself that I must work on putting more joy into my milonga, and to stop taking it so seriously.

Another mental note that I made: the first floor of The Granada has a very large, open space that hosts Salsa dancing on Friday nights. I’m not a fan of Salsa music, and it was a little distracting at times to be able to hear, and literally feel the Salsa music thumping through the floor while I was trying to get lost in the Tango music. I was able to tune it out better as the night went on, and I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it was terrible or even bad.

While not a perfect night, it was still wonderful, and most of the minor issues we had were due to our own circumstances that night. I believe that the event takes place on the first Friday of each month, with the occasional exception. I definitely plan on going back there again. Next time, I guarantee that I will dance with other women.

The last thing I wanted to share in this post is something that made my heart happy. Last week, my 15 year old son, Douglas, had his girlfriend over to watch a movie and hang out. After putting the younger boys to bed, I walked down the stairs to check on the lovebirds. Of all the things I could have caught them doing, one of the last things I expected was to find them practicing their Tango! It was great! They were brushing up their moves and getting ready to show their stuff at Homecoming. I love that my son has taken to Tango. My hope is that he stays with it, and is able to get as much joy out of his Tango as Alma & I have gotten out of ours.

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