Confessions of a Tango Dancer

A Tango Story

by Michael FlanaganLaBoca 1

What caused me to change my life?….  It is not easily explained, but perhaps if you listen tmy experience, you may understand.

I was one who knew better.  I had always been content in my world of rules and reliability. My life had never been exciting or passionate.  It was comfortable.  I was satisfied.  Or so I thought, because as it happened, I willing to leave the safety of my world. But why at age 40?  And, how did it happen?

Head-over-heels? …I didn’t think so.  It wasn’t rational, but the feelings were very real. In her presence, my heart raced. I had unfamiliar emotions that left me exhausted, excited and confused. It didn’t make sense; it didn’t fit into my clearly-defined, safe life.

Although my connection to her was instantaneous, my metamorphosis didn’t happen in one bright flash, but rather, it quietly snuck up on me one step at a time. When we were first introduced, I had no desires of pursuit. As a matter of fact, I ignored her. I ignored her, yet she smiled. I never spoke her name; she only had kind words for me. I would not embrace her, yet she alwayTANGO BACKs extended her hand to me. 

I would go days without acknowledging her existence, yet she remained faithful in her quest. I would often tell myself that she could never be interested in someone as quiet and predictable as me. Her past was deep and powerful, I could never be a part of her history. However, when we were face-to-face, there was an undeniable, visceral connection.

As she stepped closer to me and I felt her beauty pulling me deeper towards her world, I resisted.  I couldn’t give in to the intensity of our feelings.  The timing wasn’t right; I had no room for her in my nice, neat

 world. Besides it was well known that she had other lovers and was forever cultivating new “connections”. It just wasn’t logical or possible for her to exist in my world.  But I was so interested; I was intrigued; I felt glimpses of her passion that left me breathless and wanting. Her past was intriguing and colorful.  I was intoxicated with her. And I knew, deep down, she could take me places that I had never been but had always wanted to go!  I fought the internal, restless pull of her. I told myself I was not going to fall; I was stronger than that; she was not right for me. I did not have the time or the energy to be lead by another’s expectations.. I didn’t need her, nor did I want her.  I resisted.

I decided her interest in me was selfishly motivated. I knew she had deep connections with someone else. I knew her type. She could never be monogamous and she would never be able to survive in the everyday, mundane world in which I lived. Her presence was intimidating. She lived by her own set of rules that were unacceptable in my rigid, rule-driven life. Besides, what would people think? Her world was fantasy and passion,mine – predictable and controlled. So, I continued to keep my distance. I did not need the pain or the heartache.


Michael Flanagan Tango 6

But deep down, I knew she was so much more than I could ever hope to be. Her beauty was undeniable, her appeal universal, and her passion was so intense it changed those who witnessed her. So I convinced myself again that her interest in me was imagined. However, I decided to let her into my life in short, controlled moments and, beyond that, nothing.

I knew my resistance was weakening when, among friends, late at night over coffee and conversation, and she was nowhere in sight, I felt her presence. Her passion slipped into my thoughts, and I could feel her beauty enveloping my heart.

Even as I felt I was losing control, I fought the urge to prevent the inevitable.  I was not willing to spend my precious time trying to please her. I had my own commitments and obligations.  I had no time to surrender to her. This was because I knew her passion was too strong and would require so much more time and energy to satisfy her demands of me.  She would never be satisfied with my commitment; she would need more time, more energy. I could never give her enough! I was in continual conflict. Did I follow my heart or my head? Did I do what others expect or what I wanted?  Enough thinking!  It was time. I had to take a chance, had to make changes.. 

As predicted, she was waiting.. She was not smug; she was confidant I would find her, eventually. So we spent time together.  I needed to get to know her, where she came from, why she touched so many. At the same time, she wasn’t interested in my past. My life before her had no meaning; her only concern was my commitment to her. Was it real? Could I make a difference?

 Our time together was magical. We played hard and tested our limits. I opened myself to new feelings, and she was with me each and every step. Even a midst the excitement of a new relationship, it was a struggle for me. Being free and open did not come naturally to me.  I had to learn to leave my world and embrace a new one. It was easy for her. This was the only life she knew. Close up 2As we continued, we needed more time and she was always waiting, waiting for me to fall deeper and deeper in love, and I did! Again, she was more demanding than I ever could have imagined and I willingly accepted her challenge. I found more time to spend with her and when we were apart, she danced in my thoughts. I did everything I could to meet her high expectations.  I worked tirelessly to overcome my limitations set by a life of conservative actions and predictable decisions.  I finally listened to my heart and after endless hours of struggling to do the right thing, I did the best thing!

As we spent time together, I had to remind myself that I would not be the only one in her embrace.  As I opened my heart to her and her world, the control of mine began to slip away. I knowingly left the comfortable and controlled, and cautiously continued my relationship with her. I found myself relinquishing: reason for rendezvous, predictability for passion, and control for controversy.   I was alive!

I wanted her world for mine. As you listen to my story, you may not understand.  I’m not sure I do. But, once I let her in, I fell so hard, so fast, that reason was no longer part of my vocabulary.  I knew it, but I could not stop! I could sense the judgmental disapproval from people who we

ren’t involved, but it did not matter.  I was free! While I was in her arms, no one else existed. My entire world became the one we created in that single moment we were together.  It was our world now, a world where I lead and she listened. This is what she wanted all along and I relished it.  Some called it manipulation or seduction on her part, but I didn’t care.

In the comfort of her arms, our pasts did not matter.  When I held her tight against my racing heart, her connections to lovers across the globe ceased to exist.  Our connection was so strong, the connection I never wanted; the connection I will never forget!

Dancers Hands 001As we all know, nothing is what it seems and reality is forever tapping us on our shoulder.  I am no different and as I released her, space separated us and she slipped away. The heat rose from our bodies and vanished in the void between us. As I stared into her eyes, I saw the ghosts of her past and realized her need to reach for more willing souls and to invite them into her world. In the same moment, I felt the warmth of her heart in her need to please me and everyone she had ever touched.  In that moment when I allowed myself to go into her world with no bindings or restrictions, she entered mine.

I think I understood. For her it was never about control. It was never about perfection.  It was about freedom – the Freedom to escape the trappings of our daily life and all of its responsibilities.  She understood to find that freedom one must make that commitment. Not to be the best but the willingness to be at your best. It was our willingness to take a chance that allowed me to find life, peace and passion in a dance! A dance that is never about the steps, it is about sharing.  It’s about listening. Tango is opening your heart to the music, and the moment and that someone in your arms with whom you wish to share a part of yourself.  

Argentine Tango was very patient in her pursuit of me. She understood my cautious nature inTSL LOGO with ARCH 02.02.2013 accepting her.  Most of all, she was gracious in how she gave herself to me and anyone willing to take the risk of leaving their realm of comfort and embracing new challenges. Tango is an extension of each one of us who accepts her challenge. As we dance and share our experience, we understand that we get what we give and it is that giving nature that allows Argentine Tango to find a passionate home in St. Louis.

 We are special souls who have allowed Argentine Tango into our hearts and our lives.  We must embrace her with love and tenderness for it cannot be any other way. 

Believe me, I know, I tried.