If you are a seasoned follower, you might be used to closing your eyes when dancing but if you are new to tango, this might (understandably) be a slightly frightening thought…
The Argentines often use the word “entregar” when talking about the skill of following, which means “to give in” or “to surrender” to the lead. In my mind, it only is possible when followers close their eyes.
An amazing feeling of freedom
I actually started closing my eyes – a while back – after a day-long ‘self-expression through movement’ workshop in microcentro, Buenos Aires. The workshop comprised a variety of simple partner exercices, none of which related to tango. It was all about enhancing sensations and establishing trust and connection between partners, and for most of the time, we closed our eyes as we worked in pairs. I thoroughly enjoyed the day – it was fun, light-hearted and free from any particular technique. I didn’t have to think about posture, pivots and bringing my knees together! Just listen, move and enjoy :-).
That evening, I went to Canning, one of my favourite milongas in Buenos Aires, and this is when “it” happened for the first time: I really closed my eyes. It was bliss.
As strange as it might sound, we can actually close our eyes on different levels! Of course, starting by closing our eyes physically always helps. But in my experience, to really “entregar”, to give in, it is necessary to close our eyes at a deeper level.
It’s when we stop observing the ‘outside’ and the ‘inside’ world that the dancing progresses to a different level. Then, we become ‘mindful’, this very trendy buzzword of the 21st century. There’s mindful eating, mindful working, why not mindful tango dancing… Actually, is there anything more ‘mindful’, more “in the moment”, than dancing tango, I wonder?
That night, I felt so much connection with the music and my patners, that for the first time, I understood why in Buenos Aires, gentlemen walk their partners back to their table after a tanda – it’s because, as I found out, tango might have transported them elsewhere and they might have lost track of where their table is!
If this is all new to you
- The first time you try and close your eyes, it might be better to try with a partner you are used to dancing with. Being confident and comfortable will help you relax.
- It might be better to pick a partner who has a gentle, clear lead, who maintains you in your axis, because closing your eyes might make you feel like you are out of balance.
- It is easier to close your eyes when dancing in close embrace.
What about gentlemen?
Many gentlemen find that by having keeping their an unfocused gaze, about 2 meters in front of them, puts them into a similar state of “giving in”. Without losing sight of the dancefloor and the couples dancing around, of course.
After all, as we followers give in to the lead, gentlemen try and give in and surrender to the music. Ultimately, it is the music that leads us both.
See you soon on the dancefloor …or not if dancing with closed eyes!
Have a browse at our Argentine tango classes in London if you want to give us a try!