I have no musical education so the basic singing and some dancing are the only active experiences of music before tango.
For some reason I started to walk to music and I soon noticed that at certain times the steps got a deep meaning for me. Then suddenly I felt again how ridiculous it was to walk around to music, alone at home. I started to chase these meaningful steps because those steps must connect to the music in right way. I became an intuitive dancer and I mostly placed my steps according to the structures other then basic count.
I had also lost my childhood musical memory so I never knew what was coming next - I felt as if being an audio head in an old tape recorder. This forced me to dance without any plans, but just concentrating on the music sounding NOW. You don't necessarily need to know what is coming next; Followers are actually doing that all the time - they seldom know what movements are coming next. Leader's relation to music is similar as the followers relation to my steps.
For these reasons I was TOTALLY unaware of beat, phrases and the parts of tango.
How was I doing then?
In the beginning of a song I let my body move on the spot and find the music, find the feeling of meaningful movements and then go. Some times I was pointed out as the only (!?) one on the small pista who was stepping on the beat all the time. I got positive feedback on my phrasing and my dancing was great fun for followers too.
But to participate on a musicality workshop was a living hell to me!
Walk on beat .......? Walk only on 1 ....?? I was painfully aware of being different, I was out. I tried to look how others were doing and asked my follower. The last two years of that period I was aware of that others heard something very vital in music, but what? I couldn't form a question and nobody asked me how I was doing.
About two years ago a tango friend gave me Joaquin Amenabars book Tango:Let's Dance to the Music! I started to do the practical exercises and two weeks later I heard first time the beat - I was totally exhilarated! Totally! Several years of frustration was canalised in work with that book. I have done it several times alone and several times with tango friends.
But there is one big devil!
My early tango was magical, something between my body and the music. I did not have control of it, the first time in my life my aware brain did not have anything to say when the feet were dancing. Quite interesting, nice!