A Passion for Tango

Walking into the room, one hears the creak of a bandoneon, two violins and a rhythmically syncopated piano. The voice is incomprehensible to anyone who is not fluent in Spanish, but the pain behind the vocals brings a thickness to the chest that requires one’s attention to the dance floor. It’s impossible not to notice the couples of people, embraced and wrapped up in the moment, connecting to the music, the floor, and to each other.

Tango originated in the slums of Argentina, and since the 1920’s has since flourished around the world as a dance of connection and improvisation. The dance involves a feminine role and a masculine role (though either can be dance by both genders), and operates in a certain fluidity in which the lead invites the follower to move with him while allowing room for self-expression. It’s danced in close embrace, which can be related to a good hug.

I am so grateful to be able to take three hours from my life to connect with others through dancing Argentine tango at the PSU Tango Club every Tuesday. If you’d told me before I moved into college that in my first week, I would be trying tango for the first time and then develop such an addicting desire to continually grow, learn, and connect, I would have laughed at you.

I joined the PSU Tango Club a little over two years ago during my first week, and since then the dance has taken hold of my life and serves as my weeklycreative, social, and physical outlet. Tango is my antidrug that lets me let go of the stress of school, work and life for just a few hours at a time. I go out several times a week to get my tango fix at different venues around Portland. It’s a passion that I’ll carry with me the rest of my life that that has significantly increased my ability to meet people, escape my comfort zone and expose myself to communities and cultural activities I didn’t even know existed.

Being in college is all about these life experiences that force us to open our minds and explore, sometimes resulting in life-long passions.

Have you found yours yet?

Conquering Freshmen Fears

I remember all too well my very first time walking into a college class. It was a 9am French class, and I had woken up two hours earlier to prepare. I was terrified. I was late and then proceeded to answer with a Spanish “si” instead of “oui” when my professor asked me a question. My heart raced and my face flushed deep red. I had from that day set the standard for the rest of the term, and I suffered painfully shy and awkward moments nearly every class.

I can now say that walking into my classes this term has been the opposite experience. With practice and time comes confidence. I no longer have to carry a map to locate my classrooms, and I’ve learned to plan my walk accordingly so I don’t show up to class 20 minutes early or 5 minutes late. I no longer feel the pang of anxiety every time a professor calls on me.

A metaphor I heard last year compared being a freshmen to a baby T-Rex: We have awkward arms and fumble about trying to find our balance. But by the time we leave campus, we’ve become the king of the dinosaurs, and the  smaller dinos looks up to us.

You best run while you can, ’cause the T-Rex is comin’.