Back in 2010, I left my product manager job in Silicon Valley, gave up my apartment in San Francisco, and embarked on a midlife wander through South America. Why did I go and what was I looking for? This is an excellent question.
At the time, I was 35 and going through a dark passageway of my life as a single woman. The biological clock was making itself known; a boyfriend, never mind a husband, was nowhere in sight; I was burned out by working in Silicon Valley as a startup cofounder and the product manager. My career was amazing. I had published two books with major publishing houses with press attention on CNN, NPR, New York Times, and more, cofounded then sold a niche social network called StyleMob.com, and published an award-winning magazine To-Do List.
My brain was always on, I couldn’t sleep. I was a workaholic who didn’t want to work anymore. So in a very unlike me move, I decided to go on a “life churn”: to follow the instincts of my body — to Brazil. Originally my dream was all about finding happiness in a bohemian neighborhood called Santa Teresa in Rio de Janeiro, a place I had romanticized and in fact adored, but after 6 months in Brazil, my visa limit was up. I hadn’t found my answers yet, so on the advice of a Brazilian friend, I doubled down and went to Colombia.
By month 9 of my travels, I had tried a lot of things in my search for “that thing”–something that would reliably make me happy that I could bring home with me. I tried kitesurfing, capoeira, hell, I even tried a polyamorous threesome relationship with a couple in Rio de Janeiro. That’s a whole other story that will be in my book Wet! But it wasn’t until I got to Cali, the world capital of salsa, that I stumbled on tango. I had never seen tango before. I thought tango was a dance that one danced with a rose clenched between one’s teeth marching to the music dramatically across the room. What I found was something much more subtle, connected, and intimate. Ultimately, I found that “thing” that I had been searching for and I had no idea at the moment just how much tango would teach me for my life.
In Cali, on that very night that I first saw tango, I met a Belgian woman named Griet who was also traveling through South America, but she explicitly described her travel as a dance adventure. I realized I had also been on a dance adventure but hadn’t named it as such. (I had taken a lot of dance classes in Brazil too.)
Griet and I started to try out all the tango teachers in Cali. We spent two blissful months immersing ourselves in the tiny tango subculture of a city dedicated to salsa. I was so very into tango that I convinced one of my teachers, Oscar, to give a tango show with me, which was quite audacious and unheard of since I had only been dancing for six weeks. You can see our show here.
After this show I joined Griet in Buenos Aires to study tango for two months at the source. In Colombia, I learned the dance of tango, but in Buenos Aires, I discovered the culture, and so much more. This was the first time I started to experience the unique global tango culture of Buenos Aires.
Here’s a photo I snapped during that first trip.
In October 2012, I followed a calling to return to Buenos Aires to study tango at the source. I had been struggling with fatigue symptoms related to a celiac diagnosis and my intuition told me the unique tango embrace of Buenos Aires would help me heal and get my energy back. And it did.
There is something unique about tango in Buenos Aires, where the hug is more committed and energy circulates through the heart between the two dancers.
During that 8-month stay in Buenos Aires, I discovered the psicotango community, which confirmed my own suspicion that tango is a uniquely healing dance. Not only for the immune system, but psychologically too. Tango provides a mirror for us to see ourselves in how we relate to ourselves and another in the most intimate partner dance, and the embrace, which mimics the embrace of a mother cradling a baby, gives us a way to look at how we approach our relationships with our parents. And with other intimate partners.
During that time, I started to write about what I’ve learned through tango. I started with this essay, “What Tango Taught Me About Relationships.”
Later I wrote “Is Tango Better than Sex?”
I continue to write about tango and feminism, and tango as a path of healing in my memoir-in-progress Wet.
Since 2012, I have been splitting my time between Oakland and Buenos Aires.
I started the first Tango Adventure in spring 2014. Since then I have offered it at least a few times every year. The Tango Adventure is experience design. I combine my love for coaching and personal transformation with tango. The Tango Adventure is a weeklong experience for women to rediscover and reconnect with themselves and their sensuality through tango.
I’ve developed a wonderful team of people who assist me in creating this experience for the women who join me here.
I continue to study tango after six years. The path of tango is infinite. I take pleasure in private lessons where I always learn something for my life as much as I learn technique.
Here’s me exploring the “active follower”–a way of making tango a true dance of equals–in August 2015 with one of my favorite teachers JuanPi at DNI.
There is no limit to the healing, pleasure, and confidence and personal power you can find through tango too, and it is my absolute pleasure to share this incredible culture, music, and dance with the women who join me here.
So what are you waiting for? Reach out to explore your Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires.