Hi, My Name is Alice, Software Engineer, And I'm a Tango Dancer

interview with Holly Darling

Alice Wang is the joyful spirit and digital wunderkind working behind the scenes to create all the online goodness at Oxygen Tango. Known for her playful and spirited presence, Alice says that Tango has taught her about self-forgiveness and the wisdom behind the analogy of maintaining one’s own axis. After a long day of coding and linear thinking, she relishes the mystique and various personas we try on as dancers. Alice loves the constant striving of Tango and meeting people from all walks of life, so look out for her customized cabeceo just for you!

What drew you to Tango initially, and how did you discover Oxygen?

Mary Fu! I met her at a wine-tasting party of a mutual friend of my ex and her ex. We found out they were taking tango classes and everybody wanted them to dance for us. They danced around the living room, wearing socks on carpeted floor and with the coffee table still there. It was magical. I remember thinking that, to them the rest of us must have just faded away. It was beautiful and tender yet had so much strength and rigor. I knew I had to do this! Later on, when I started Tango, I re-met her, and we became instant friends.

One Thursday, after work, late at night, I saw Tango Mar Vista's Practica on Tango Aficionado website and drove there. Back in the day, nobody had smart phones, so I looked up and wrote down directions, changed to pretty clothes, drove by, and there was nothing, no one, but I did see a lit neon sign that said Tango. I was disappointed, but went home and stalker-read the entire Tango Mar Vista website. Inevitably I found a picture of this guy’s face trying to look real mean and next to it said “Tango Torture Class,” and I thought, “I’m going to that class!” So, I went, I met Stefan, and here I am!

What surprised you about Tango?

How much it taught me about non-tango things. I'm always really straightforward, and I embrace that kind of logical thinking. This Tango business is a whole new thing that my linear brain experienced. And it taught me about mystique, about intention, about artfully executed playfulness. The whole technique in Tango of keeping your own axis was helpful for developing relationships, because if you don’t have your own proverbial axis in life, you can’t have good relationships. Also to forgive myself, to not dwell on mistakes and over-analyze. And just give myself a break—dancing Tango is the first thing that taught me that getting past your mistakes is an important thing to do. That was a big lesson for me.

What challenges do you face in Tango and what is it about Tango that keeps you here?

Everything is challenging, everything about it. The most un-challenging part was my first month. I thought it was so much fun. When I first started to understand what I didn’t understand, it became an endeavor that will never end. Also, high heels. Those are tough.

What keeps me there? The people. I met so many fun and intelligent and different people that I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet working a desk job in the defense industry.

What are the different kinds of relationships you have experienced with Tango friends and partners?

It’s actually hard for me to make friends. I'm terrible at small talking. But the relationships that I have found have extended way beyond the dance floor, and we have become life friends. 

We hear people say that Tango changed their life. Has Tango transformed your life in any way?

Tango has allowed me to transform into different personas when I dance, and it’s a really good outlet for a harmonious combination of my current emotional, physical, mental status, and my creative energy. When you’re tired or lazy, you can still have an awesome dance; you just have to channel it into the dance, and your partner can respond to it. It makes me an actress in a way, while still staying true to myself. Before, I used to feel bad if I didn’t feel energetic enough to dance or socialize, but now I’ve realized I can channel it into my dance, and that’s a healthy way to handle these different situations.

Also I have girl friends now!! Ever since I graduated high school, I think I literally had two new girl friends. Maybe because of my field of study, in school and at work, there are no girls I can relate to! I have grown to think it was normal until I started learning Tango. YAY Tango Mujeres!

How has Tango brought happiness and meaning to your life?

Well, there is the dance, and there is the people. I think dancing in the moment is that meditative state that we all strive for; when we’re in that moment, it’s an experience that brings a focus to your mind. When you’re in that zone, only this embrace exists and what’s happening inside, and this is an experience that people don’t feel much; it’s unique and addictive in a good way. It also gives me a way to perfect something. I’m always working toward becoming a better dancer. So, if you’re a goal-oriented person, it gives you something to strive for all the time. And the surpise factor. On any given day, how you are feeling and where your dancing is at is unique, so you will never have the same dance. That’s what the dance brings to me.

But the people bring me a lot of happiness. I really like being in a diverse crowd and I like this community so I want to help make it sustainable and grow. It also brings me a sense of belonging, because I was transplanted from Beijing, so now that I’m living here on my own, it gives me meaning in that way because I call this part of LA my home, and I’m making it a community that others feel welcome in. West side!!!

Some people say Tango is a little bit sexy. Do you agree or disagree?

Hell yeah it’s sexy!

What do you personally contribute to Oxygen Tango?

I spread digital fairydust for the school and I've started helping with marketing and strategy. I contribute in this way because I recognize that two people can’t do everything to make the school grow, and I want Oxygen to have its own building! We drew it out on the whiteboard at Casa Caswell. It had gargoyles and even a lookout platform on top. It had a music department! I believe in the Oxygen mission statement. This community has become a part of me; I want to foster the connectedness of everyone in this community, and grow it so that more and more people can be touched by what I’ve experienced here.

Alice's basic tango stats:
Dancing since...
Favorite orchestra... Pugliese
Lead/follow/both?... Both
One word description of your cabeceo... Everyone's using multiple words so mine is "depends on who it is"