Today on Facebook, the sad announcement was posted that Norward, a longtime Los Angeles tango dancer, has passed away. Flashes of other tango dancers who have passed in the last several years went through my mind, Ruth, Francesco, Roger …
As time has gone by, I have come to realize that this Los Angeles tango community I am have been part of for the past 10 years is very much like family. Many tangueros are like distant cousins, or a favorite aunt or uncle, sister or brother. We gather together week after week, year after year, and we dance, laugh, sometimes complain and feud. Together, like family, we celebrate birthdays, holidays; we gossip, acknowledge unions and break-ups (and gossip some more). We celebrate births, and mourn the loss of our family members. In the end, we continue to come together to share a singular love–tango–a special dance that unites us in a way that nothing else can. Many of us become lifelong friends, others remain lifelong acquaintances.
Norward was one of the first people I met more than 10 years ago when I started dancing tango. He was a gentle soul, and had a great sense of humor. “I’ll never forget Vegas,” was something he always said to me when I ran into him, recalling a humorous incident that happened when we were at a tango festival in Las Vegas eight years ago. It was an incident that only he and I found funny. Every time we saw each other, he’d repeat the phrase, and we’d chuckle. That’s how I’ll always remember him, his soft, low chuckle and grin when he said it, “I’ll never forget Vegas.”
I’ll never forget Norward. Or Ruth, whom I sat with many times as she spoke of her pride and joy–her children and grandchildren. Or Francesco, who in his thick Italian accent would say as a greeting, “Ciao Bella!” And Roger, who was sweet man and kind man and had such a joyful love for tango.
I will miss their smiles of greeting when I go to dance tango, and the sharing of a part of my life with them.