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Cat Style

My Tango Beastie has been getting a few field-study-based refinements.

The first refinement was also the most complicated. After perking up from a long cold, I realized that in the best tandas, I was not just half of a happy furball floating inquisitively over a field of daisies. I was, acutely, one of two separate things together. Those Best Quality Tandas are best quality because they're full of longing to moosh myself into the other person. That longing is the real connection, not just the safe snuggliness of sealing up our pink parts away from the outside world. That constant pull came not from, “we are one,” but, “we want to be one.” As such I had never been more aware of being my own person. Evidently when you go all the way to the energetic heart of the “with me” part of the yinyang, you get to the dot of “on your own.” And I understand the yinyang symbol better now. Sure, it's round because that's the energetic shape of maximum dynamic efficiency, and the two parts are reacting into each other's boundaries and the energy of this boundary is what propels the motion's flow. I knew all that. But I just figured out that the two dots are the epicentres of each kind of energy. As I always say, whenever energy of one kind reaches saturation it forcibly converts to its opposite. Hence the opposite within each, the diamond in the coal. But also, how we're representing these yinyangs is a simplistic, because really the two dots should be done with special, rainbow, glow-in-the-dark ink, to represent the energetic hyperconcentration.

When I was a civilian-beginner dancing with other civilian-beginners, I felt, “me, dancing with you.” Now that I'm a tanguerita-nena-beginner and occasionally am lucky enough to dance with big tangueros (and, even more occasionally and luckily, with milongueros), I feel, “us, one Tango Beastie.” But once in an extremely rare while, a while so rare that it must be chalked up to DNA, not to technique, I feel the next iteration of “me and you.” I feel the aloneness of superintense togetherness. I feel “the attraction that Newton left out.” (Arcadia, Tom Stoppard)

Perhaps fortunately for my education, most of the time that is not the case, and I can focus on more mundane developments like giving my Beastie a more defined shape. I have felt before, when dancing, that I was a cat. Now I felt that I was the front half of a cat. This particular Cat Beastie keeps its eyes in its back half. Adding the Cat to the Beastie gave it a more interesting personality than its previous sweet-all-the-way-through gerbilesque persona. Originally the Beastie had just two qualities: innocence and playfulness. Now it had pride, caprice, stealth, volatility, and a radioactive sensitivity to the world around it. I spent a few nights mincing my way along the rooftops like the one half of an Aristocat that I was.

Until someone pointed out that I wasn't following through with my design intention (Cardinal Sin #2 in my book, preceded only by the nadir of all Cardinal Sins, “not being true to yourself”). I'd thought I was doing great as half of a cat. My pelt tingled with the bombarding sensations of air, clothes, and the other half of the cat. My supersonic ears felt, instead of heard, the music. My posture was much better. But.

“More grounded!” they said. Oops. I'd been having so much fun picking my delicate, slinky way around the world, my tail in the air, that I'd missed the real cat-boat, and why it's more fun to be a cat than to be a gerbil with floating-ribbon legs. The Ground. I reminded myself that cats are terribly sensitive all the way through, and this includes their paw-pads. And then, all by itself, I felt sensitivity opening up in the bottoms of my feet. Oooh! The ground!

Suddenly I was in love with the ground. Groundgroundground, yum, I can't get enough of it. I loved feeling it and my paws pushing against each other. Shifting my weight and pulling my paws away from the ground was a way of exploring the range of sensations the ground gave me, and quite necessary because otherwise the exquisite intensity of ground meeting paw would have been nearly unbearable.

My paws reached for the ground. They loved the feeling of the floor so much they wanted to reach into it, connect with it, be inside it, just the way you're ideally supposed to connect with your partner. I remembered what someone said: “there are three points of connection, of grounding. The hands, the man's chest, and the floor. Three points to plug in to.” Ah. So that's what they meant. Someone else once said to me, “the few professional women dancers I've danced with feel like chihuahuas. Their whole bodies are just super aware, they're practically shivering with sensitivity.” Ah. I am starting to understand that too.

I once attended an extremely amusing class in which the teacher said, “you want to kiss the floor with your feet, like this: mwah.” And he kissed the floor with each foot for a whole dance. We've all heard about kissing and stroking and caressing the floor (ok, at times I've felt my own feet licking the floor, but, you know, whatever, just don't give the floor any hickies).  But until now I haven't understood the energetic motivation for the physical act of kissing the floor, so my floor-smooching technique has been empty. But I get it now. That floor is irresistible, it's entrancing, I can't stop myself from nuzzling it and teasing it and whispering sweet nothings to it. My paws lose their heads completely when faced with the prospect of their favourite lover, the ground.

Once I started making out with the floor, things started feeling really good. And effortless. I didn't have to think about making soft footfalls because my paws were having so much silky fun they just happened on their own. I learned that you have to be as connected with the floor (and the miles of earth beneath it) as you are with your partner (and the miles of heart inside them). I could totally feel when I lost my connection with the floor. It was when I stopped feeling “yum” and started thinking. Then, sure as shooting, down went the human foot, hard and clunky, and plonk, down went heavy weight on top of it.

I looked around and suddenly I could see who was feeling the floor and who wasn't, as  instantly as I could see what they were wearing. Poor blighters who weren't. Boy were they missing out. ….It's hard for the ladies, when they're dancing with men who are not feeling the floor, because we reflect and magnify the energy they put into us, so if they put us down “plonk,” we must be very good indeed to ignore the jolting crash and continue with our “yum.” I personally am not going to be that good for a very long time. But it makes me understand more deeply the credo, “don't go up and down,” and its flip side, once described to me as, “you have no idea how good it feels when you do it that way; it feels better than an orgasm.”

Hey, they said, it not me. It is, however, true. Feeling up the floor is an absolutely indecent pastime. But we're not known for our decency, we stray cats.

Stray Cat Strut, The Stray Cats