SF Loves Tango is thrilled to introduce Tanguera Escondida, our new guest writer. “Tango Confessions by Tanguera Escondida” will be a regular series at SF Loves Tango. Tanguera Escondida (TE) shares her stories, with honesty and a wry sense of humor, the joys and frustrations of dancing Tango in the Bay Area. TE frequents all the usual bay area milongas as well as attends classes, for this reason she would like to remain anonymous. The first installment is a story about dancing at Cellspace, one of the longest running, and most popular milongas in the Bay Area.
The Cellspace Native
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Cellspace for many months now. I love the hip, young crowd. The lighting. The high-ceiling, and artsy feel of the place. I hate the craggy, pock-marked dance floor. The tandas that sound like French whispering, or blues, or some strange soundtrack for a sci-fi movie. The dancers that glance off each other like ping pong balls. But something, something, keeps drawing me back.
Cellspace is a breeding ground for a certain type of dancer. This type of dancer I’ll call a: “Cellspace Native”, who rarely ventures from their home turf. These dancers often have no concept of counter-clockwise rotation, or watching out for other people, or using eye contact to enter the dance floor. Some of them don’t even have a concept of tango. All rules are thrown out with abandon. They fly, willy-nilly, through the dance floor, leading their traditionalist partners through a complex menage of moves, from boleos to volcadas, while they try to follow with a wide-eyed, frightened expressions.
Recently, I danced with a Cellspace native. He was a very pleasant fellow, a blues dancer as many of them are.
“Why haven’t I seen you around?” He asked.
“I usually go to 1924, or Verdi, or Danzhouse, or El Arrabal.”
“No wonder, he said, staring at me like I was a crazy tango cretin, “I never go to those.”
AND NOW I CAN SEE WHY.
He grabbed me and put me in a harsh open-embrace, and proceeded to race like a deranged horse around the dance floor, slamming into people, throwing my legs around, bent over like a hunchback, swaying shoulder-first like the blues dancer he was. I was breathing hard, trying my hardest to keep up, using every ounce of my concentration to not fall flat on my face. Acrobatic tango, anyone? Tango, blues fusion anyone? Or maybe we should just call it “bowling ball tango”.
After the tanda, I could barely breathe. The Cellspace Native looked at me with his big brown eyes and said, “Are you okay? Was that too crazy for you?” I started at him panting, “No…”, I said. “I’m just not used to this form of…um…dancing.”
“Well, cool”, he said, “Have fun tonight.”
Luckily, I only danced with one other Cellspace Native all night, a doughy, shoulder-leader who was pleasant and sweet. The other, traditionally-trained, lovely dancers embraced me closely with kindness and warmth while avoiding body-slamming me into others. I was able to close my eyes and relax into the music and focus on the dance, whether it was to whispering French, or blues, or weird, wobby sci-fi tones. I was able to breath deeply, and truly enjoy my time on the dance floor.
I can’t say I dislike the Cellspace Natives. They add a little creativity to my routine, a bend from the “norm” that I am used to, a mental challenge, some spice to my dancing. I just wish they could add some organization to the dance floor, maybe move in a counterclockwise motion, maybe watch carefully not to slam into other people. Then, just maybe, I could get rid of the “hate” part of my love/hate relationship with Cellspace.
SF Loves Tango would love to hear your point of view on this topic. Have you had similar experiences at Cellspace? What do you think would improve the dancing experience for everyone?
Disclaimer:The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of SF Loves Tango. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.