Last night we headed just over the border to a milonga in Belgium. One of the hosts made every announcement in three languages—German, French, and Dutch—which impressed me.
I am always entertained by (and, I admit, a little apprehensive about) the language negotiation that happens at milongas. Because there are so many languages spoken in a small radius here, you can never be sure what language to use with a new dance partner. (This makes the cabeceo an especially useful way to get dances.) Last night, I spoke English, German, and even Spanish with my new acquaintances.
But the most amazing experience happened without words. I looked across the room to a leader I had noticed dancing earlier. He tilted his head at me, I smiled and nodded, and we both got up and walked to the dance floor. Wordlessly, we embraced. And it was as if we had been dancing together our entire lives.
Our embrace was instantly comfortable and familiar, and the dancing was effortless. At the end of the first song, the only word exchanged was wow. And then we were embracing again, dancing until the tanda ended and we parted with a few words of regret about it being over so soon.
I don’t know his name, or where he lives, or even what his native language is. But that’s okay, because I know I will see him again in a milonga, somewhere, and tango will be the only language we need.