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  • Kay Runyan

Installment #3 Malaise????

I ended my last installment talking about obtaining my PhD from U.C. Berkeley. However, I must share one of the most enjoyable adventures I had during my 20 years of living in San Francisco. My life seemed to be centered around work and school. After getting the PhD I felt like I needed to involve myself in something fun. At that time Argentine Tango was huge in S.F. Any night of the week there was a Milonga (dance) somewhere in the city. I had watched a few videos of the Tango and liked it. As usual I didn't give a thought about what a difficult dance it was. I went to a Milonga and mostly just watched as I didn't know how to do it. I found out that there was a free lesson before each dance. I started attending the lessons, but for a month was too afraid to dance, so left after each one. I continued to listen to Tango music and watch videos. Finally I thought I was ready. Over the next year I went every week, sometimes twice. My partners ranged from horrible to mediocre. I didn't have to worry about dancing with the really accomplished men because they never asked me to dance. In Tango it is your partner's job to make you look good. This seldom happened even though my instructors complimented me on how well I was doing. The male instructors always made the dance easy for me, while on the other hand it could look like opposing forces on the floor with others.

I became so involved that eventually I became president of the Bay Area Tango Association (a non-profit) when the previous person left. That meant that I had to speak about the Tango to various organizations. One of the things that I said (taken from speeches of the previous president) was that a Tango dance was three minutes of intimacy. I had never experienced that.

I was fortunate enough to travel to Buenos Aires to the Congresso in 1999. The finest Argentine instructors were there to help you. Lessons went on all day with many different instructors. When exhausted you went to the hotel, slept, did some sight seeing and then dancing that started around 10 PM. The dances lasted to 2 or 3 AM. then back to bed.

Three nights during the week we had a chance to attend a real Milonga in the city. Men did not come to your table to ask you to dance. They caught your eye and gave a slight nod of the head. If you accepted you gave a slight nod. They then came to your table and swept you onto the floor. What an experience. For the first time I felt that "three minutes of intimacy" with the different partners. WOW!

My job was to put on the BA Tango Ball for that year in SF. While in Buenos Aires I met an artist who agreed to create the posters I needed for the ball. I spent several hours in his studio watching him create. Occasionally he stopped, put on tango music and grabbed me to dance. What an experience. He also painted a picture for me of his impression of the Tango. I treasure the picture and always have it on a wall somewhere in my house. Now that I have brought up this memory my malaise has lifted. Wait for my next installment. It will entail a "Big" move."


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