I had just found an event I would love to attend! I had exactly one day to figure it all out. So my life got a bit complicated for the following 24 hours.
First, I checked the basics of the event: three times 12 hours of dancing, mostly during daytime. How perfect! We are speaking here of an aging body that is used to waking up very early (4 or 5am) in the morning. That does come with falling asleep at the same time as my kindergartner, but it also means that most tango events that happen at night feel like pure torture.
So, the timing was good.
The event also announced fabulous tango DJs. It was thrilling to know there would be truly skilled DJs, doing their best to create an atmosphere that would be full of emotions and drive for the dancers.
Perfect dates. I say perfect because the marathon would fall precisely on my birthday and I could imagine no better way to celebrate it than to dance through it.
Location - Berlin. Most people would be thrilled to be able to go to Berlin, but I am not such a fan of big cities any longer, so I just shrugged my shoulders. There is always a good and a bad side to everything in life, isn’t there? Flight tickets to popular destination are often cheaper, while the accommodation often gets more expensive.
I was right. The flights were ridiculously cheap, even when considering the three-hour shuttle transfer service to that departing airport.
But then the real question appeared: Where to stay? If I summed up all the costs of getting there and the all-inclusive ticket to the event itself, I already reached the upper limit of my current tango budget. So I hoped to find a local tango dancer to host me.
Although, on a second thought, they didn’t have to be dancers. It would be just a little bit less awkward because they’d understand that I’d be coming home in the middle of the night, sleep in as long as possible in the morning, get some food into my body and return back to the dancing location. It would not be very sociable, really, if we could only say hello and goodbye for three days in a row.
I was also a bit concerned about staying some place far away, on the other side of Berlin, and going around alone in the middle of the night. I used to do it without a second thought in my early 20’s, as I studied and worked in the big metropoles in Europe and the US, but the late 30’s and single parenthood put a pricetag on my safety.
So I first asked two friends who were on the top of my mind. Nothing. Then I wrote to the organizers themselves. Still nothing. Then I brainstormed a list of people connected to Berlin. Just the thought of writing to some of these people was embarrassing. It’s been 6 years or longer since I’ve seen those people and with a couple of them we only spent a few days together, ever.
But I gathered courage and did it anyways. It is hard to get something without asking for it, right? We are talking my birthday present here. I usually go out and above to arrange an unforgettable birthday experience for my daughter or other special people in my life - but usually just forget about my own. It’s time for this to change.
Also, in the past, I very often hosted foreign tango dancers in my home. Not sure if that brings me any tango karma points, but I decided to take a risk.
I happened to be up at 4am on the morning of the registration deadline day and started sending messages on FB and Skype to friends I hoped could either host me themselves or connect me with another person.
The registration deadline was at 12 noon. How perfect, given that the marathon itself is called “High Noon”. Everything went smoothly. No trouble with the internet connection or the registration form. Within a minute, the form was submitted.
I had some inner debate whether to apply as a follower or as a leader, but in the end I exchanged a few messages with the organizers and found out I could do both, as I’d please. How refreshing! If I mention such a possibility to organizers around my hometown, I end up feeling like I am carrying a plague.
Then the replies from my friends about the housing started arriving. A negative here, a hold-on-for-a-while there, silence elsewhere. Until someone suggested I contacted a mutual acquaintance who lives nearby the marathon location.
That was VERY difficult to write, as I felt I was begging for a favor someone I hardly knew. We met once at a big tango dinner table 9 years ago and nodded a hello at a couple of milongas afterwards. So we were strangers, basically.
But I did it anyways. The desire to go to Berlin was too large to get stopped.
It turned out he would be out of town during that weekend, but he would happily leave his keys for me to use the apartment. Which, by the way, is within 3 minute walking distance from the tango location!
All this came first. Then came a question: “Help me out here. Have we ever met in person?”
It left me speechless.
Only in tango can this happen. Leaving your whole home to a virtual stranger?! I am so deeply grateful for this opportunity, on so many levels.
Only three months to go, it is now time to start making a couple of new tango dresses. How exciting!
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I'm Hannah A. Tomšič from Ljubljana, Slovenia. I'm in love with both leading and following in tango. It is wonderful to explore tango indefinitely and to help others learn. Please, join my quest. Ask a question, tell me your story, make me see another perspective. We are all here to learn from each other.