El Firulete
The Argentine Tango E-zine
July/August 1997

A right idea

There is a school of thought that encourages people who are in a position to motivate and encourage others, to make a point of trying to catch others doing something right. I’m reminded of this because there was a time when I needed the reassurance of being able to do some things right in order to survive. I think I did, survive I mean, as a matter of fact sometimes I feel like I was born again, an expression with religious connotations. But then, feeling inebriated by the experience of dancing Argentine tango is as close as a religious experience as one can live without having to forgo ten percent of your income to support the leaders of a religious organization, who, by the way, will make a point to catch you doing something wrong all the time. No wonder most people wait till they die in order to find peace and joy in paradise.

I found my paradise in San Francisco, the city by the Bay where people leave their hearts. It was seven years ago at a dance studio perched on the first floor of a movie house. What is beautiful about our image of paradise is that it is run by angels, creatures who by the nature of their job description find it natural to catch people doing some things right. When tango dancing was for me as far fetched as white water rafting down the Colorado river, some angels held my arms and walked around the floor with me finding ways to catch me doing some things right. Three of them had names like Elaine, Frankie and Mary. Because of their gracious and generous acts of kindness, I learned not to make excuses for my precarious balance or my occasional bad posture by blaming it on the other person.

I have not thanked them enough, I know, and now one of those angels just passed away. I don’t know if I’m mad because Mary missed our Saturday night milonga or because she chose to attend the big milonga in the clouds. Now, she is not coming back, she’s there forever and now every time I hear La Cumparsita, I’ll turn around hoping to see Mary and Martillito Villalba jamming it like they’ve done it many times while El Tucu Emilio waits his turn on the sidelines to do the same. You may wonder why I choose to talk about people you probably don't know. You see, they are (Mary was) tango friends, the kind you encounter every week at the local milonga, the ones that’ll show up every time you give a party or have guests from out of town, the ones you can count on anytime you need them. This is an aspect of the tango that escapes individuals who because of their selfish, rude and vulgar behavior find themselves trying to catch people doing something wrong or they act wrong themselves creating bad vibes among the people in order to survive.

When we begin to realize that our goal is not to avoid being caught doing some thing wrong but to work hard and play harder to create enough situations where others may catch us doing some things right, great things can happen. Like the fabulous party for the people of Tango Libertad, planned, produced and executed with success in mind, or the Welcome to Stanford milonga that brought many members of the tango community together to celebrate the joy and passion of the tango. We’ll miss Mary, because she liked to party. We pray for her soul to rest in peace but we hope her feet will be eternally drawing pretty firuletes on the clouds. And every now and then when they play La Cumparsita, I’ll hope her soul inspires us to continue looking forward to catch people doing some things right.

Alberto Paz
Copyright (c) 1997, Planet Tango. All Rights Reserved
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