On June 14, Debbie Goodwin and John Campbell will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary!
Here they share with us their tango love story. In the posts that follow we feature romantic tales of other couples who connected and fell deeply in love with the dance, the music and…each other.
Tango Love Birds – Debbie and John
A life-changing dance
John spotted Debbie across a crowded dance floor in Roble Dance Studio on the Stanford campus. It was July, 1996, and they had come for Stanford Tango Week (now known as Nora’s Tango Week). With a cabeceo, the tall, dashing man invited the beautiful woman with sparkling eyes and a brilliant smile to dance, and they have been inseparable ever since.
Debbie attended week two of the program as part of her studies in Dance Education. “This was to be the turning point in my dance career,” she explains. “I had been focusing on partner dancing, a dance form that one can enjoy at any age.” Once she discovered Argentine Tango, she was hooked and decided to make it her specialty. But very quickly it took on a deeper meaning.
John attended the workshop the previous week and, as fate would have it, he enjoyed himself so much that he changed his travel plans in order to stay for a second week. His interest in tango came from a desire to explore dance as a way to rebalance his life. He chose it because it was completely different from the kinds of things he would normally undertake. Clearly, he was more than ready for a change.
Like tango, love is complicated
At the time they met, Debbie and John were both in long-term marriages and each had three children. Neither was consciously seeking a romantic encounter. But Debbie tells us, “That night, when I danced with John at the milonga, I melted into his embrace. I realized, “uh oh, I’m in trouble!” For his part, John adds, “I suddenly felt something long missing in my life. It could never be the same.”
Tango Week came all too quickly to an end. They said their sad goodbyes and then returned to life as it was before. But John was already over the edge. A few days later, he sent Debbie a package in the mail. “It was a promotional poster for the Stanford Tango Week show we attended that week. That poster is framed and hanging on our living room wall,” she says. The next week they met clandestinely at a park in Sacramento, and a few days later told their partners they were leaving.
At that time Debbie was living in Auburn where her children were in school, and John lived and worked in Marin. For seven years they took turns commuting every weekend to be together.
Special moments on and off the dance floor
Debbie recalls a particularly romantic “Tango by the Bay” at the Masonic Hall at Lake Meritt when they danced ‘til the wee hours. Not wanting the evening to end, during their last tanda they danced right out of the ballroom, past the marble pillars, through the lobby and out the front doors.
Seven years later, they were married at Marin Art and Garden Center. The guests danced to the tangos of Seth Asarnow and Marcelo Puig. For their wedding, Marcelo sang “El Dia Que Me Quieres.”
The couple honeymooned in Paris. Coincidentally, there was a tango festival in town. They took classes from Pablo Veron and Osvaldo Zotto and Lorena Hermocida in a ballroom overlooking the Eiffel Tower. “At night, we crossed a bridge over the river Seine to dance tango in the moonlight on the quays. It was so romantic,” sighs Debbie.
On looking for love through tango:
John says: “You don’t need to look for it. It will find you. You will know it when you feel it. Your life will change.”
Debbie elaborates: “Tango can bring out strong feelings that can be confused with romance. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the feelings from the person you are dancing with. We call this Tango Bliss. In tango you will find many types of connections with as many different people you come in contact with. How beautiful to be able to connect with a variety of people on so many levels, and if it happens to be a romantic connection, then John is right – your life will change. Ours did!”