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First world problems

I’ve never liked my back ochos, and I’m well aware that my voleos are out of fashion. I spent 2018 modifying my exercise routine and retraining them toward the new “chaste” look, which I never achieved, and enjoyed even less.

In Spring 2021 I started doing hundreds of voleos a day as part of my new Cardio routine. Since the routine is focused on muscle power, the voleo itself is just a bit of diversion, like flicking my wrists around, which is also fun.

Thousands of entirely private voleos later, unsure if I’ll ever feel safe to dance in a milonga again, I look back on the delights and insecurities of the tango life as if watching a movie. Photos slide through the screensaver, each a poignant memory of glory or loss or a cocktail of both and more. Like a remembered kiss of a lost love, those experiences are intimately alive and hopelessly remote.

And remote among them is the obsession with how my voleos looked and who thought what about them. Now I belt them out in droves as high as possible with maximum force and marvel at how constrained I was by faceless people who always were and will remain far more remote than all my lost loves.

The idea that there is only one correct voleo and that it’s anybody’s business how I move my body, or that I would feel constrained by the ideology of strangers seems absurd in a time of death and distance, when every uncovered smile makes my heart sing. The handful of dances of the last two years were full of gratitude. There were no judging strangers, nothing to win or lose.

Constraining my voleos was part of my campaign against exile as a “nuevo” dancer.  The bitter battle that came to define my work has been swept away as easily as indoor dining. An all-but-forgotten indulgence of the roaring teens, when we squabbled naïvely over who to invite to our balls while our landscape prepared to melt.

I discover there are far more than two aesthetics for a voleo and they are all for me. I wonder what else about tango I deferred to others’ guardrails? What other joys and pleasure did I never claim?


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