"La vida es una milonga"

Big "Welcome Back" hug to myself here. I've been procrastinating on this post since November last year.

At first I had too much random thoughts to babble gracefully. Then I got carried away with dancing like no tomorrow at local milongas and tango festivals. When 2014 the darkest year in my life finally ended on a kinda good note, I decided to compete in ATUSA again and use the competition prep to kick off a new chapter of my life, super duper strong.

Some people knew me as a second-timer at ATUSA this year. But only very few people knew that last year I was there, but I was not there - most people was nervous about stage fear or being harshly judged, but what really occupied me was when barely getting over a ridiculously long abusive relationship, I literally got laid off the day before the competition - was I able to find a job before being forced out of this country? Or was this really my last tango ever? 

I job-interviewed like crazy while competing. Either being eliminated from qualifying round or advancing into semi-final did not mean a thing to me. I had worse things to worry about - the fear of being out of legal status due to sudden job loss and visa expiration. And the sadness of leaving all of my friends and family, who sincerely cared about me, who I probably would not even have a chance to say a proper goodbye to.

Good thing was, no one, not even including my parents or myself, knew that I was tough as nails - I not only made it through all the emergency job hunting crab and visa trouble, but also I returned with a bigger heart and started dancing again, almost every night - going to local milonga, traveling to tango festivals, finding myself new competition partners, trying my hands on whole-song choreography for the very first time, training myself hard till I couldn't take it any more, and dancing my heart out every single time when I got a chance to perform. 

All I wanted to show was - I survived, and I am in a better place now. And, I am so damn proud of that.

Another ATUSA competition season is finally all over now. I didn't qualify in either salon or stage this time. So What? Some people never gave a fuck about it anyways. Though some people treated it as life-or-death challenge. To me, it is just one form in the whole tango universe. I haven't stopped going out dancing regardless. Or may I say, I haven't stopped seeking my better self in tango, and in life.

I learned what I found useful to help me grow - it's LOVE - not a single title in this world can ever beat the precious friendship I received during the prep time and competition tension - the warm hugs, the bitter tears, the "special pepsi", the artistic photos, the sincere "I love you" from people I know and complete strangers... 

My friends, just like every milonga you've been to, you can always find yourself somehow connected - with the music, those you danced with, the crowd, or even the venue that brought back good or bad memories... What matters the most is how much YOU value the whole experience.

Dancing is never ending. Life keeps going on. Sometimes things take a sharp turn but eventually they would slowly climb upscale. Just enjoy the ride.

"No pain no gain" rule still applies - everyone loves being in the spotlight and enjoy the audience's applause, but not everyone likes the idea of repeating the same move frame-by-frame until it looks perfect... It takes tremendous work to become that elegant lady who can not only pull off those flattering dresses and seductive stilettos, but also dance with the right attitude, energy, personality and capacity. Same to you, gentlemen.

Even the best milonga in town cannot guarantee we always see the exact same crowd show up every time. Just like those who come into or exit from your life, people constantly come and go - all at unexpected turn of events, at one point or another. Just like those fellow milongueros, dancing non-stop or people-watching a lot, experienced or newbie, known for a long time or newly met, earning dozens of thousands of salary or living off pay check, their attendance is all fragile just like one's life. They may or may not meant to cross your path, but when they do, cherish the moment together and give it all in:

Someone you just befriended are moving away because they are bored with their current life and need a new start somewhere else.

Someone you just recently got acquainted with offered you a huge favor without any hesitation but only pure sincere and commitment in his voice.

Someone you fell in love with chickened-out on a random exit because he feared himself lacking the gut and courage to conquer the world with you. All he can take is living a quiet routined life waiting to climb into the grave.

Someone you thought you are closedly tied to for lifetime no matter what (best friend, life partner, family member, etc), they might get ill, turn older, become weak, or even rest in peace.

Every now and then, we keep running into assholes or douchebags. We have all been challenged by difficult people in all kinds. Well, little by little, you learn how to deal with that by kindly telling them "fuck off" with your own graceful twist.

People who truly want to keep you in their life, they do something about it. We do the same to those we sincerely care about.

Last but not least, a pair of comfortable shoes in right size and good quality helps reduce the pain and tiredness significantly (make us ladies look beautiful too), and they are just like a well-compatible partner who accompanies us travel further in the journey, makes tough life a lot easier, and bitter/sour grape taste sweet. If you don't have it yet, keep looking. Do not settle for less. Ever.


Abrazos y besos,

Yours Xiaomin