“I got you”: The revelation I found hidden in a wedding tango

Guest post by Sonja Lishchynski
 | Photography by Eva Hadhazy Photography
"I got you": the revelation I found hidden in a wedding tango
Photos by Eva Hadhazy Photography

I'm an introvert, but I'm not anti-social. I enjoy good conversation and storytelling (but loathe small talk). That social butterfly reputation is what creates confusion for most people. A lot of people associate the term introvert with “shy” or even “socially awkward.” But, as with everything, there is a sliding scale. Introversion has only one real attribute: being around others is an energy drain. All that means for the introverted social butterfly is that it's important to book lots of quality alone time in order to recharge.

My now husband on the other hand is an extrovert. After being around a large group of people his energy level is through the roof and he's full of ideas and ready to take on the world RIGHT NOW. I will also feel that way after an event, but three days later — after I have had some “me time.”

"I got you": the revelation I found hidden in a wedding tango

When my partner suggested we do a full “so you think you can dance” stylized wedding tango as our first dance, I was thrilled. I've always loved the idea of learning how to tango. It's a bold choice. It's a feminist choice. The tango is the only ballroom dance where the man is not in charge. It's more like a battle of wills. The “lead” may suggest a direction or move but the “follower” is at all times free to refuse and redirect. We laughed a lot. It's playful. It's more representative of an equal footing in a relationship.

With five months to go before the wedding, we knew we would need private lessons and, more than that, we'd need someone to help us choreograph. We found a teacher who was willing to take on two novices and transform us into the performers we wanted to be in a ridiculously short time. What followed were weeks upon weeks of intense Saturday classes. Hours of practicing in our living room with the furniture pushed away to the side. Our wedding was going to be in our home, so it was a bonus to practice in the space we'd actually perform in!

"I got you": the revelation I found hidden in a wedding tango

I discovered I was actually quite good at tango and I found myself frustrated at my fiancé for not picking up the moves and choreography quickly enough. Days before the wedding he was still having moments of doubt creating these unpleasant hesitations in the dance. We settled on my giving him some small verbal cues if needed. We enjoyed it so much… but I admit I was worried.

On the day of the wedding, as I changed out of my wedding skirt into a tango skirt for mobility, I started to get anxious. I heard the shift in the music we had agreed would be our queue (this tango was a surprise to our guests). I hesitated. Suddenly painfully doubtful of my ability to pull any of it off. My introverted self just wanted to stay in my room and flee the audience. I pulled myself together and stepped out onto our living room floor.

"I got you": the revelation I found hidden in a wedding tango

Our song came on. And across from me, my now husband was… flawless. Perfect posture. Perfect recall. Perfect. He had the audience he needed as an extrovert to fully “bloom” into the tango dancer I knew he could be. Me? My legs were shaking so hard that, to this day I have NO idea how I didn't collapse. If it had not been for muscle memory I don't know that I would have remembered the choreography. When one of the moves came, a sudden drop and twirl low to the ground with a leg elegantly stretched out to the side before coming back up, I felt total panic inside. Knowing that my legs would never hold my weight. My beautiful man just winked, and as it was time to come back up, changed — the move to scoop me up from under the armpit in the most sexy way. Using a close embrace posture moving us along into the next step flawlessly without missing a beat. He whispered “I got you” in my ear. I could have cried from relief.

The sudden silence hung in the air like a fart in the elevator.

With only a minute left in our wedding tango, my worst fear became reality. We lost the music. The sudden silence hung in the air like a fart in the elevator. Our family and friends who had been holding their breath gasped and shouted “OH noooooooo!”

My extroverted husband did a twirl and shouted “I guess we start over!” and with that went to restart the song on our sound system. I died inside. AGAIN? We were nearly finished, couldn't I go now? But no. From across the room there he was in his full tango glory; his eyes sparkling with joy and playfulness reminding me of my own saying tattooed on my ribcage: “Feel the fear, do it anyway.”

And so we did. We started over.

Our second time was so smooth. We executed some of the moves so perfectly that I even dared to feel pride in both of us. We were pulling it off! My legs still didn't fully cooperate but no one noticed. I hid my introverted “side effect” well. I always have. Eight years of community theatre had given me lots of practice. And my opposite, my gorgeous, strong, extroverted partner was there. My rock. Literally shoring me up. We finished and our guests exploded. But I was elated, thrilled, and completely drained. My husband moved on to chat with our guests, twirling me and kissing me every chance he got. HE had caught a second wind.

"I got you": the revelation I found hidden in a wedding tango

It wasn't until we were on our mini-moon road trip that it hit me. That the story of our wedding tango was absolutely the best example I had ever come across of how a social extrovert and a social introvert can prop each other up as life partners. Yes we are both in love with being “different.” Yes, we are both a little fearless. Yes we are both “social butterflies.” But we wouldn't actually ACT on any of it if we didn't have each other. I had pushed him relentlessly during the practice sessions. He had held me up and given me some of his confidence to lean on that night. Reminding me to have faith in myself. We tap into each other for that which is lacking in ourselves. Freely giving of that energy. Freely taking. No words needed. Partnership. Support. Synchronicity. Marriage.

“I got you.”

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Comments on “I got you”: The revelation I found hidden in a wedding tango

  1. What a beautiful essay. My partner and I talk about this often. We are a great team. Typically one of us can step up when the other is weak. It’s a great feeling. Thank you so much for sharing your personal tango story! It reminds me to cherish our moments and look for opportunities to be there for her.

    • Thanks DL! Isn’t it funny as well how you can see certain things really clearly later. After the fact! “I got you” is becoming our little code now. Loving it. So glad we decided to go “all out” for our first dance. Introvert or not!

  2. As a spectator to the event and the dance (s), I assure you that you hid the butterflies flawlessly and I never would have guessed that Stefan wasn’t an intuitive tango dancer when you started your lessons. Knowing you both, I agree that the dance was a perfect metaphor for your relationship. I describe my own marriage as a “port in the storm”. It’s a safe, comfortable place no matter what else is roiling all around.

    • Hey Suzanne! I am so glad I hid it well and pulled off the show. Sometimes you just have to pull up your big girl pants! right? And thank you. Now if you hear us say “I got you” you will get the inside story! And yes … Port in the storm. I totally get that and see it.

  3. I was a witness to this amazing performance, and no matter how scarred and unsure Sonja might have felt…it didn’t show!!! I believe I can say this on behalf of all the guests in attendance that the newlyweds were amazing even through the mishap with music…at least we got to enjoy the performance twice!

    I guess the saying that nothing is ever perfect during the wedding day is true since we had a problem with music during our own wedding during the mother-son dance. The DJ got the music so wrong. Instead of a Lynyrd Skynyrd song he played the same Viennese Waltz again that my dad and I just finished dancing to. I felt the awful feeling and silence as Sonja did, and our fix up took much longer than Sonja and Stefan’s decision to redo! 🙂

    It is great to read the backstory to it though, and I have to say the couple pulled it off flawlessly!


    • … and we were at your wedding and … we don’t remember that! Goes to show how things that seem so important at the time – and give that “ugh” feeling – probably aren’t (when it comes to stuff going wrong).

      I bet two years from now no one will remember that we had to start over. All they will recall is that we had a tango.

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