Buenos Aires Querida

I am on my way back from Buenos Aires to Barcelona. It is the third time that I am on this route and it is the first time that I am not heartbroken to say goodbye. Still, secretly in me I am wishing if only I had one more week… Each time I leave Buenos Aires, I leave a part of myself there and I bring a part of her with me. Each time I am in Buenos Aires it is a process of self exploration and healing for me. Not a light one.

When I had to leave Buenos Aires last year, I decided to move there so that I don’t have to say goodbye again. Then my life has changed and Barcelona became my new home, which is a good compromise.

What is it with this city that I am so fascinated by and driven to? Tango is one reason and then there are many others: the warmth of her people, her imperfection, her big heart, her soul that shows that she suffered, her deep thoughts. Buenos Aires is not a city for everyone. You need to be able to be patient with her and forgive her often times. In return she will give you some most blissful memories and moments of your life.

Each time I am in Buenos Aires I discover myself again. I see my fears, insecurities and helplessness. Tango throws it at my face and I have to deal with them, yet Buenos Aires never lets me down. Her people hold me when I fall and I stand up stronger.

One month ago when I arrived, I couldn’t dance. I was blocked. This is already the second time that it happens to me. Last year was the same. It is painful. It feels like you have so much to tell but you lost your language. You cannot speak. You stutter. Sometimes some sounds come out and you get hopes. They vanish as fast as they come and what is left behind is sadness. You have so much to tell.

This is happening to me because I want to speak the language perfectly. I know how it feels when it is perfect for me. I have been there. In search of that perfection I lose myself, I get disconnected from my body. My mind takes over. I start to look for it more desperately, I punish myself for not being able to find it, then I get tense and blocked. It is a vicious circle. I get blocked and I cannot dance, I get even more blocked because I don’t dance. All these thoughts going on in my head that I cannot stop.

Buenos Aires knows me. Much better then myself. And she gently helps me out of it. She did last year and she did it again this year. When I arrived, I could hardly make a step. My body was full of tension and I had so much pain because of it. I didn’t want to go out to the milongas because I didn’t want to blame myself and I didn’t want to transmit my tension to anybody. Yet I wanted to dance. I cannot not dance, it makes me so happy…

I started seeing my teachers, two dear persons to me, who know me so well. Who know how I torture myself and who can help me out of it and they did it. Again. I started going out to the milongas. I forced myself out. I went to those that no one goes except for the very old milongueros. I found warmth and joy and sunshine in their embraces. They made me feel like a princess, which gave me self confidence again. Their clear and simple dancing put structure into my body. As I became more free day by day, my body started to remember. Day by day I started to dance better.

One day into my third week I found the perfection I was looking for. It was both a blessing and a curse as I would find out later. I found it one night at Maipu and Canning. I was connected with myself and with everyone, from my center. Young old, tall short, slim, robust…With everyone I had the connection. I felt I could dance forever. No matter with whom I danced, we spoke the same language. I was in heaven.

I woke up happy next day, expecting the same, as I had now found my long lost tango. That night I didn’t find it again. I got scared and intimidated. I stared searching for it desperately. In every partner, in every step, in every embrace I looked for it. My mind was so busy with trying to find it that I didn’t listen to the music, I didn’t live the moment. I grew sad and desperate and tense. That night was sadness as much as the previous night was pure joy. I came home devastated, only to find a FB message from a dear friend of mine who had seen everything while I was at the milonga. His message woke me up to myself. It read,

it is not a dance
it is tango

it is not about how I move my feet
it is not about how I hold my arms
it is about how I share my soul

tango is about feeling. If it feels right, It looks right. The difficult thing for the followers is trusting and letting go, much more to people that is used to be in control. …..relax, and let us take care of you…in the meantime, close your eyes and enjoy….remember the connection is on the chest and the seduction is on the feet…

I fell asleep. I woke up and decided to try to let go. Went to the next milonga. I will always be grateful to my dear friend for teaching me to gain my freedom…. For once, I was able to be free of my thoughts. I decided not to punish myself and I could. I decided to listen to the music and give up all the responsibility and I could. That night I had my connection back again. Magic.

There is much that I learned again in Buenos Aires. I will share more because I believe in each one of us there is an insecure and burdened child. Maybe Buenos Aires helps. She helped me. It is not about tango. It is about life. That night I learned, again, what it means to have self-compassion, to accept oneself, to like oneself no matter what and to let go.

Man is free at the moment he wishes to be – Voltaire

Seattle 2016

I went to Seattle at the end of March. I have to admit I was not not very enthusiastic about it. There is a story behind it. Today as I am writing this, I am so grateful I went. I had wonderful three weeks.

I went to Seattle because of Jonas, my friend and my former mentor at Microsoft. He is one  of those persons that if you didn’t meet him in your life, you missed out on something. Jonas knew about all my plans that I was going to stop working at  Microsoft soon and that I was planning to move to Buenos Aires (over Barcelona). He supported me, as he always did, but he also kept telling me I should come to Redmond (Seattle), which is the Microsoft mothership. He said there are thrillingly exciting projects for a person like myself. I should at least catch a glimpse of them before I exited.

I was not so enthusiastic. I had made up my mind, I had my plans and I wanted nothing and noone to keep me from my way. Besides, I had just returned from Buenos Aires, where I had stayed for six weeks and Microsoft in Redmond looked like another planet to me. Yet I liked Jonas, he has been a great mentor to me, and a good good friend and I knew somewhere deep in my heart that he was right, that I should give it a try.

I have to tell you, I packed my luggage for the three weeks in Seattle only in the morning of my flight (I truly hate packing), which I also almost missed because of some complications at the airport.  At that time I would have been indifferent if I did. Now in hindsight, it would have been such a pity.

Once I was there, Jonas and his family including the cat gave me a home in every aspect. It was lovely. With them I discovered the city and the whole area. Seattle is made up of Seattle the city (west side) and two more towns on the east side of the lake: Kirkland, Bellevue and Redmond. The whole area is absolutely beautiful. You get the lakes, the mountains, the green grass, very kind hearted and helpful people, with a European touch on top. If you are yearning for a bohemian kind of life, you will get  that too.

I stayed at Kirkland but I walked literally everywhere. Waking is my latest passion. So I walked from Redmond to Kirkland, from Bellevue to Redmond, from Kirkland to Bellevue, miles and miles and miles. Everywhere is green, actually forest with trails, so you always have the option to walk if you want to. I learned that Redmond equals Microsoft. The town is the company and vice versa. I so much appreciated the fact that Microsoft did so much for its employees’ wellbeing, so that they can work (and live if they please) in such a huge forest that smelled wonderful.

In the Seattle city, the Fairmont area is awesome. It has many many little coffee shops, where people hang out with their books or friends for hours and hours. It is right at the canal, so there are lovely sunsets. For those who are in tech as myself, Google’s offices are also there, which have very petty views of this canal. By the way Seattle also has great coffee, which they are proud of. The put every effort to make it the best and they succeed.

If you like the not-so-mainstream, alternative life style, Capitol Hill will be for you. It is a lively part of the city, with many restaurants, shops and towns which are unique in their own way. You will see young people with hair in all colors, extravagant clothes hanging out on the streets. Very nice.

And then there was tango. Seattle has a lovely tango scene with beautiful dancers, who will be friends with you, will take care of you, will not only dance with you but also listen to  you, will show you around and will be truly interested in you. Even before I went there, they created a FB group and put me in there, so that we could be connected during the three weeks I would be there. With them I had not only great tandas at nice milongas, but also new people in my life whom I would now call friends and would hope and love to see again.

Three weeks went by very fast, and I did get more than a glimpse of the thrilling projects at the Microsoft mothership. Also there I met wonderfully friendly, very smart, enthusiastic and kind people, who wanted to do a great job, while always caring for and respecting the others. I did not relocate to Seattle out of many reasons, which are truly because me and has nothing to do with the city and its people. These two are lovely. My heart is beating for my plans and I learned to follow my heart.

I am grateful to Jonas that he convinced me and the three weeks that Seattle has given me.

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Fear of Life by Alexander Lowen

“One day I read a book and my whole life was changed”. This is what Orhan Pamuk writes in his book “The New Life”.  That is a difficult book, it cost me a lot of time and energy to understand, if I did at all…But. Recently, I read a book.  My whole life was changed. No. Just, everything fell in place…It is a book by Alexander Loewen called the “Fear of Life“. It is a book that you find searching in the category ‘Psychology’ in Amazon. It is such a coincidence how I landed on this book… I am grateful.

After having read the book many things fell in place. Even my education on English language and literature. The book discusses the Genesis, the Fall and the Greek mythology extensively.

I found this book because of tango. How could you tell…I stumbled upon a blog one day called the Tango Principles. The author was talking about a therapeutic approach called Bioenergetics and how it helped  him overcome the tensions in his body. Being the curious person am I went on reading.

The founder of this school called Bioenergetic Therapy is Alexander Loewen. He has numerous books and is the founder of the institute with the same name. I started reading him. A lot.

It is a beautiful book which wakes you up to yourself and to life, if you let it. A few years ago I may not have understood many things I read, or connect with. But now everything falls in place… Loewen’s main message is that we cannot be happy if we ignore our bodies and operate only with our minds. Yet, our cultural society and the civilization drive us to do so and reward us when we do so. We are all after success, money, titles, possessions because we equate them to happiness and security.  Are they?

If freedom is happiness, how free are we when we have all those things? He says we don’t need much to be happy, we just need to ensure that our ‘self’ is aligned with our body. Meaning listening to what comes from our heart,  core and physical body and not only or mainly from the left side of our brains.

So true. I had to think back about my life and decisions…everything I decided with my heart and ‘belly’ felt right and made me happy…All decisions resulting only from rational thinking turned out to bring me unhappiness sooner or later.

Why do we do that though? Why do we ignore our instincts and always go with the mind? Because the civilization and acculturation educates us to do so. But then, Loewen says, our bodies are so much older than our minds. They are the products of millions of years of evolution, they have been through things. Our bodies know. All we need to do is to trust them more and let go.

Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease. Hippocrates

Tango Is a Difficult Thing

This thing called tango is a difficult thing…I don’t mean the technicality. That is not easy either, but on that bit you can always improve. With patience, decisiveness and sufficient practice anyone can become a fairly good tango dancer. I claim. What is difficult is the rest.The world of tango gives you a lot but demands equally lot.
It gives you a wonderful music, emotions, an additional language to express yourself.
It brings some wonderful people into your life, whom you would have otherwise probably never met.
But then, just because of this, this tango can be very hurtful…
You may have had a bad day behind you…you go out, want to dance, want to be among friends, forget, be happy go home and sleep with a light heart. Feel you belong to somewhere and people care for you.
Maybe. Or maybe you sit there the whole night, longing for some tender tandas but your ‘tangueri friends’ are only too busy with themselves. Looks go past by you, your all time dancers have eyes for others this evening. They may even be reluctant to say ‘Hello’, because God beware, that may oblige them to dance with you…
This tango is a difficult thing.
It may make you endlessly happy. If you have found your embrace, if you see the joy and shine in your partner’s eyes, who says thank you to you without using the words. You may surprisingly have a wonderful chat with someone, and feel like you have known each other forever. But then the very same person may not recognize you next time he or she sees you. Too busy with chasing embraces.
You can make someone as happy as a little child, by saying just a simple ‘yes’ to his invite. In the end he will kiss your hand and bring you back to your place greatefully, responsibly, respectfully. One night the tanguero, whom you thought he doesn’t even know you exist, may invite you to a beautiful tanda…what a mix of joy, excitement, fear…will I do, or will I be a disappointment?
And then all tango these travels…You go long ways, you fly, you drive hours and hours. You have expectations…You worked hard the whole week and you hope to find a little warm home in that dancing hall, with the lovely music and  ‘friends’.
Will that happen? You never know. But it is difficult, this thing called tango. That much I know. You may leave that dancing hall, thanking God almighty that life is a miraculous, wonderful thing. Or you may leave that dancing hall completely confused, with a self confidence equal to zero. All these years’ of dancing wasn’t worth a penny.
You take in all this. These are the rules of the game. This is tango. Either you play it or you leave it. So, next week you go dancing again. What happened?  You are the prince or princess of the evening.  Your feet hurt, your back doesn’t carry you anymore. But your heart is shining like the summer sun.

Weekend @ El Corte

I came back from a city called Nijmegen in Holland this evening.

I never knew it existed before I moved to Cologne.
My ignorance.
Now I know  that this little Dutch city is famous for two things: its university and the tango.
There is a tango salon called El Corte there.
I never knew it existed before I moved to Cologne.
My ignorance.
Tango dancers from as far as New Zealand, South Korea, Urugay.. all knew about this place.
They come there to dance.
I had been lucky to go there with some friends for the very first time, as otherwise I have had never found the place.
It is just a door, on some backstreet, close to the main train station.
I would have never thought it is a place where you would go to dance.
With tango I  always expect some ‘salon’ as they call it.
Some elegant place with wooden floor, chandeliers, bistro tables…
Nothing like that.
You open the door, walk in, and all what you see is big a table, some sofa, a kitchen – bar on the left hand side, and somewhere back there is the dance floor. It is just a room. Could have been your living room.
When I first saw it, I thought, hmm so this is the salon that is what they say is world famous…
After 3 years, I know why it is so famous, and it so much deserves it.
It is about the the place and it is about the people.
All these people, from all over the world come there for their passion. Yes, they are passionate about tango.
And it is so international and this ‘salon’…the way it is makes you feel so much like you are at home.
Yes, as if you were at home, you had invited your friends from the rest of the world for coffee, you speak all sorts of different languages, and a common one: tango.
No entrance fees, just caring hosts who make sure you feel well. They serve you coffee, food, they clean and tidy up all the time, they play wonderful music and they smile. If you went there a few times, they know you by name..They want to know where you come from, they pay attention to the detail.
I remember the first Friday evening I had gone there, after a long work day. I arrived there finally and asked about the entrance fee. They told me: “there is no entrance fee, you came a long way, it is late and you are tired. now just come in and relax…”
Once there, it is amazing how the time passes..I realize how late it is only when I get hungry 🙂 That is usually around 8 pm. So from 1 pm to 8 pm I have been dancing to the wonderful music, or at least listening to it if my feet could no longer carry me dancing, I have been chatting with old and new tango friends from wherever in whatever language.
This time I had wonderful dances with tangueros from France, Latvia, Britain, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Turkey, Scotland, Slovenia, …I am back home but I still have the music in my ears, and and the things we told each other without having used the words.