I suppose few among you watch Chicho and Juana perform, wondering if their knees will hold? Well, I do. They appear to be human, so I figure they must have lower backs, ankles, meniscuses, and hips. But most of us don’t like to think tragedy is only one step away. Nobody especially cares to hear about injuries in the milonga, either. It distracts from the dance experience, which is supposed to be magical. If I worry a lot about injuries, does it make me a hypochondriac, or merely paranoid?
Injuries used to happen to other people. Now, I’m acutely aware our bodies are like my Italian-design coffee maker: one tiny missing plastic component will make the whole thing useless. My discovery of the rock step caused my first-ever injury. I loved changing direction in the milonga and the rock step was just the thing for that. One night I must have changed direction a lot, on a stone floor in Rotterdam. I could hardly get out of bed the next day. Still feeling invulnerable, I took two 2 aspirins and got on with it. However, the pain in my left foot lasted for 12 months, during which I learned how to turn more often towards the right and to remember taking aspirins to the milonga. The pain faded, but I still stay away from enrosques. Who needs those, anyway.
My current anxiety about injuries started with a knee twist on a concrete outdoor floor. One moment I was happily waltzing, the next my knee blocked, and I had to lean on my follower to get seated. Like stepping into a sinkhole on Leidseplein. Since then, I know where my Flexor Hallucis Longus, Tibialis posterior, and Gastrocnemius are. I sometimes wake up in the morning, feeling a weird phantom pain in my leg or ankle. It goes away, but I’m never sure. Maybe I witnessed too many fateful accidents in the milonga? Like that time when I saw a high heel penetrate a woman’s foot and had to assist her to the hospital. Or the friend who tripped on some concrete steps, leaving a milonga, never to return. My most recent injury was on my right knee, swelling to balloon size after descending a mountain slope. Stubbornly in denial, I went back to dancing two days later, applying ice after each tanda and popping aspirins. It took months of physiotherapy training, but I dodged another bullet.
Five years ago, a woman told me this was her last night of tango, ever. I was shocked because she loved to dance and was damned good at it. The enormity of her tragic statement sank in slowly. ‘So, this is the last time we dance?’ ‘Yes’, she said. ‘And the last time we see each other. I’m leaving town.’ She danced on pain killers now. The bunion on her foot, caused by wearing high heels for too many long tango nights, was inoperable and the only option left was quitting tango altogether. ‘I feel some pressure to make this tanda a memorable one,’ I said. She didn’t smile. ‘I wish I had your problems’.
Clearly, I’m not a hypochondriac. And not paranoid either. Unless, of course, you’re all doing power yoga and Pilates behind my back every day, pretending not to know what I’m talking about.
Published: 24 Apr 2023 @ 07:46