Weekly Adventure: The Tango Dance Lesson

Lately, my boyfriend and I have been really into the idea of taking dance lessons of some kind–the “idea” meaning we hadn’t actually done anything like that since we first started talking about it and spent more time enjoying the misty, out-of-reality, dreamlike image of us gliding along the dancefloor like professionals.

Given the timing of the Olympics, I obviously had U.S. ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White in mind. (Buzzfeed’s comparison of them to modern day Disney characters is beyond accurate.)

Though my recent adventures with roller skating definitely solidified the idea that I wouldn’t be able to take my skating skills to the ice, the dance part was still on the more open-ended side of the scale. I enjoy dancing in various clubs, and not just grinding or swaying- I throw a few two-steps in there, and try to get my heartrate rising, and maybe think that I know how to swing-dance even when I don’t.

We were ready to get some rollerskating on, '80's style. Not as easy as it looks.

We were ready to get some rollerskating on, ’80’s style. Not as easy as it looks.

However, we finally got our chance to take part in some real life dancing when he and I met up with a friend of a friend who went to Yale who me met through various random circumstances and ended up going to this Lithuanian Dance hall night called “Save Your Soul”  where I promptly got sweaty, gross, and had a lot of fun dancing. It only happens once a month but is probably one of the most fun things I’ve done since moving to Baltimore, which is saying a lot.

Our friend of a friend that we met introduced us to the real world of actual dance lessons: Argentinian Tango.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been coordinating a date to meet up and practice the first few basics of the tango so that my boyfriend and I can join in at the Charles Village Tango Lessons currently being offered. Last night, we finally got that chance, and I had my first real dance lesson of my life (besides ballet lessons when I was maybe 5 and had no idea what was going on).

beautiful tango dancers

Let me start by saying that dancing is as athletic, technical, and challenging as any sport I’ve ever done, and you have to look elegant while doing it. Of course I arrived in my stereotypical black skinny jeans and loose blouse, wearing socks and boots that were not the appropriate footwear to slide across the floor as a tango dancer would. Classic.

When we started, our friend began by playing music and asking us to walk in a circle, our heels in the air, our bodies angled forward. We were to walk on the first and the third beats. One, pause, three, pause, walk.

Next, we linked up together to try–me, following backwards, while he led me forward.

From what I’ve learned as the female in the dance, tango is really about feeling your partner’s every weight shift and responding to it gracefully, setting your weight down as he places his feet, shifting as he shifts.

When we were first starting, I often forget to just listen to his movements. I, the forever athlete, was trying to mirror memorized movements. I was trying to learn a new sea kayaking paddling stroke in my head (turn the blade towards your feet, move outwards in a c formation, pull towards your hip), when I should have been feeling the motion and the music more.

Slowly, it got easier and we added more steps besides just walking backward and forward together. We tried a “rock step”, which is exactly what it sounds like- rocking back and forth. We added an outside step. We mixed the steps together and tried to time it with the music.

Finally, we ended the night with the “ocho”- a move more for the female part. I was getting a little nervous, as I usually have little coordination when it comes to this kind of thing. In an ocho, the female is rotated by the male and moves backwards in an almost serpentine way, making figure 8’s with her feet as he turns her and dances forward.

Here’s a video of how it’s meant to be done:

After watching that video, I was a little intimidated to say the least, and the idea of holding my weight paused as he shifted me was really confusing. After a few tries though, we started to get it, and even managed to kind-of get back into normal steps after dancing ochos.

As we turned off the final song and wiped surprising amounts of sweat from our brows, my knees were aching (I keep too much of a straight leg while dancing, I need to find more soft knees), and we were starving. Dancing is way more tiring than you expect it to be, especially while learning something new.

On Thursday, we’ll be starting our professional lessons! I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to tell then (hopefully no disasters!).




For Some Background on My Adventures, Check This Out!

I’ve written about a lot of my outdoors expeditions prior to now, and a good place to start to check them out would be this Her Campus page (http://www.hercampus.com/school/jhu/why-not-washing-your-hair-two-weeks-can-be-great). This post is all about my expedition to the Florida Everglades with a great gang of people, and how I did not wash my hair with anything besides natural water for almost two whole weeks. Thanks to the JHU Her Campus blog for sharing my experiences! Give Her Campus some love (www.hercampus.com).


Weekly Adventure: The Snow Day

Yesterday evening just before 8PM, I was anxious to escape my nearly three hour lecture class: there’s only three students and one teacher, and we read text like we’re mining for bits of gold between the lines–closely and painstakingly. Facing away from the window and having only my computer to entertain me, I clicked on the Johns Hopkins Emergency Announcement that had been e-mailed to me.

It was going to be a snow-day the next day.

Immediately, I mentally became the little girl that used to run around in zip-off soccer pants and three layers of hoodies with some plastic rain boots and maybe a snow suit- if my mom got to me before I got myself out the door. I became the young Jenna who loved leaping into snow heaps and running around, not afraid of falling or sliding or getting hit by a stray snowball.

I was ready to get out of that class and get into the snow as soon as possible, which was already rapidly falling at around 8:30.

Of course, I am no longer 12 and my wardrobe is no longer just soccer clothes and hoodies.

I’ve advanced beyond that, and discovered a few tricks that actually allow me to both enjoy the snow and also repurpose some really cute clothes I’ve got–keeping myself warm, stylish, and water-resistant.

One of my favorite purchases I’ve made this winter season was, of course, on the dreaded Black Friday.

My sister and I decided that we wanted to participate this year for “anthropological reasons”, you know, to watch all the crazies fight over the last flat screen TV. Which did happen.

a screenshot of a facebook "mupload" of the line at Target on Black Friday. #terrifying

a screenshot of a Facebook “mupload” of the line at Target on Black Friday. #terrifying

But we also wanted to invest in some new clothes for ourselves, especially me who’s going to be graduating and really needs some new, nice clothing that I can wear pretty much anywhere no matter what I’m doing and still look half decent. No easy feat, I know.

What I ended up buying, for like 70% off, was this women’s water resistant zip-up Avanti black coat with gold detailings from J.C. Penny (http://www.jcpenney.com/).

I got this coat, which was originally over $100 back in December, for just $40. (Not only am I outdoorsy and make attempts at fashion, but I’m also very thrifty.)

Black Women’s Avanti Coat.

Find here: http://tinyurl.com/lnwvpgo.

This coat is especially nifty because of the gold hardware, which I think makes it look really unique and and luxurious, as well as the side panels which are actually knit-trim (hard to tell in the image).

The belt adds a slimming, sleek effect while the polyster/spandex material makes it a great, all-weather coat.  It’s easy to layer with, and the pockets can fit rather large wallets and cell phones in them. The zipper is also off-center, making the jacket especially memorable.

THIS, my friends, is the very coat I wore to frolic in the snow last night and today, and it’s also the coat I wore to an interview (where I got the job. Nailed it.) It’s all about the versatility- in lifestyle, and in dress.

Me, in a snowy wonderland wearing my Avanti coat and most excellent furry llama hat.

Take that Winter Storm Pax!


Stay safe everyone, and go play in the snow.



Heels and Hiking Boots: What I Care About.

Some girls:

1.Like to dress up for a night out

2. Would never leave the house without make-up

3. Follow fashion trends religiously

4. Accessorize with jewelry and patterned scarves and heels 

Other girls might:

1. Throw on a pair of shorts and long socks to go for a trail run

2. Forget to change bras for a few days

3. Go on an expedition and stop showering for two weeks

4. Accessorize with Nalgene water bottles, carabiners, and hiking boots.

I am all of these girls.

I have been a model and I have been a sea kayaking instructor.

I have been a soccer player and I have worked for a fashion culture magazine.

I sometimes wear sports leggings with heels and a sweater.

I’m a girly girl and a tom-boy.


Me walking in a Cover Girl Fashion Show for Baltimore City Paper. Find more photos here: http://photos.citypaper.com/index.php/fashionable-art-show/#1.


Me gearing up for a paddle in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

This website is dedicated to all the women that don’t fall into a stereotype about women: for those that love to get dolled up and pretty and be in photographs, and for those who sometimes forget to change bras and leave on last night’s makeup as we make our way to the gym to lift some weights.

It’s for those women who are really into the latest technical moisture wicking fabric to wear while paddling kayaks, and those women who get anxious and thrilled for their latest interview at a luxurious magazine.

It’s for those women who didn’t “brave their fears” and branch out from their normal character, by trying on a dress or going for a hike. It’s for those women who truly love both, who embrace their unique personality traits, and enjoy having adventures where ever they may go: down a trail or down a runway.

As a senior at Johns Hopkins University entering the professional world, my goal is to combine these two personality traits and to have fun while doing it. These are my thoughts. Subscribe for weekly posts!