Reality bites

Archetypes from a recent milonga…

Lovely older man I know from practicas; started tango with his wife, about a year ago.  Has a musical ear.  He doesn’t attempt silly stuff. Mostly.  I avoid the ‘lean’ he leads — I am not a lightweight and it’s never going to work like that–I can feel it not happening.  He tells me while we’re chatting later (off the pista) how he and his wife want to go to Buenos Aires.  And how they want to learn ‘all the steps’ before they go.  *sigh*

A vaguely familiar face standing by the chair I had escaped to… asks me to dance; I take a chance. I think I danced with him a real long time ago, when he was a beginner.  We all have to pay our dues.  And, who knows.. since I don’t recall anything nasty, worth a try.  As soon as we’re on the dance floor, I remember.  He couldn’t care less — he’s just going through the motions.  He even tries to have a little chat while we’re dancing.   I shut him up politely by saying “I can’t dance and talk at the same time”.  Once the tanda is *thankfully* over, he thanks me (gee, was it that bad for you too?) and just turns around, away from me, to listen to the announcement by the band about the upcoming tanda. Leaves me standing there.  He’s oblivious to how rude this is.  I know he didn’t do it on purpose.  Nevertheless, I shall call him Mr NeverAgain.

I return to my table and say something about not enjoying being left on the floor just like that.  I am sitting at the same table with Mr ChattySweetAndConsiderate and his wife.  Mr CSC and wife know what I’m talking about — he also mentions how disappointed he is about how casually a lot of the men at this milonga are dressed.  This is not any old milonga — it’s a ticket-only event that’s been organised months ago, with a live band playing.   (Remember, this is not Buenos Aires… it’s an occasion in my neck of the woods to find a milonga with a live band.)

Oh, how can I forget Mr IKnowTangoMusicSoWell.  He asks me to dance when the band start playing Cafe Dominguez.  How I enjoy listening to it without the poem being recited over the music.  He, on the other hand, has no idea what the song is.  Leads some strange steps he must have picked up in some random class and ruins the song for me.  Not the first time he got carried away with trying “stuff” on the pista and ruined a piece of lovely music.  What a great way to kill the mood.  Oh, and how about having some garlic at  lunch while we’re at it?  Seriously… this is beyond inconsiderate.

In the end, it wasn’t all bad.  I did have a couple of nice tandas with a couple of lovely dancers.  But where’s the magic I live for?  Doesn’t have to be a whole tanda, just that one single dance that can keep me smiling for days.. making me look forward to  my next ‘fix’..

I shall not give up.  I just have to move on.  I used to like this community, because they’re a lovely bunch of people.  I started out a couple of years ago with most of these people.  Went through the worst of the newbie times together.  But two years on.. most of them are nowhere near where I want my tango to be.  They are still doing steps, not dancing from the heart.  Still trying to recite the one or two composers they know of, but not feeling the music in their soul.  And not paying attention to the embrace or anything else that really matters.

Then, as if to rub salt in the wound, Tango Therapist posts this:  I am going to print it out and hand it out to every tango dancer-wannabe I know.


12 Responses to “Reality bites”

  1. Where’s the magic? I’m lucky that I can find it every
    Wednesday and Sunday evening at Lo de Celia. The memory of a man’s
    embrace for one tanda can last a week for me. Argentines know how
    to take a woman in their arms like no others.

  2. Sadly Mark confessed this was all just a dream. Getting all the tanguero wannabes to sign it and play by the rules is an even bigger dream. It’d be great if you managed it.

  3. Tango Bitch, you are not alone in your rants (refer our blog). Sadly, there are too many folk involved in tango who forget that it is a social dance, and therefore respect for others is paramount.

    Another pet peeve of mine is the all too common desire to “do stuff”, as you put it, at the expense of the music and one’s partner. Many dancers who, by now, should know better are guilty of this. Are their egos getting in the way? Are they afraid of exposing themselves through the “entrega”?

    Do keep ranting!

  4. @Mark, that’s great to hear. I have been following your blog for over a year now. I thought my blog was my own lonely little space with a few accidental clicks, but now you’ve drawn my attention to the stats, maybe it’s a bit more than that. Thanks!

  5. @Mark — yes, the post in January was a “dream sequence” but I am working on a series of articles on “los Códigos” and hope to have these DC milonga organizers give a link to Tango-Beat’s page on Tango Etiquette (códigos). One organizer already has agreed. There are changes I have seen — especially with the tendency of men in DC to abdicate their role to safely bring a woman to the dance floor.

    @Patricia — I danced with an intermediate dancer and she confirmed what I am trying to do. She said, “You didn’t try to show me all that you know. You just listened to me.” I am not sure exactly what this means, but I am pretty sure it was a compliment and that “doing a lot of stuff” is NOT what most women want.

    @Tangobitch: I thought I was alone too, writing for a few friends. When I discovered stats, I fell off my chair. I had 97 hits from Romania last month. What in the heck is going on in Romania?!!! After Romania Australians have the highest percentage of hits to Tango-Beat. India was watching on one particular article. I have to be careful what I am saying!

  6. Tango Therapist Says:

    Señorita Bitch: As I promised earlier, I finally wrote a Tango Etiquette Page for a local tango event organizer. I have had lots of great input from others (and I give attribution on the page). The local organizer now has a link for the Page in his weekly email. But somehow it has gone far and wide. Clay in Portland has it as a link on his page. No wonder — isn’t Portland the best close-embrace tango community in the US? Anyway… here is the link to his page, which has a lot of great resources, and my Tango Etiquette Page is listed there too. Please help with making in better — ideas? 🙂

  7. Mark, what a comprehensive Tango Etiquette page! Must have taken major effort to put together but the end product is excellent. I remember going around the various blogs as a beginner and none had so much information in one place.

    I’ll surely contribute if I find you have left any stone unturned 🙂

  8. HAHA! This blog is awesome… The title alone is enough for me to become a fan

  9. You describe something that I think is very difficult in any tango scene, Tango Bitch. There are people whom I have known for ages and hope I enjoyed dancing with four years’ ago, when I was a beginner. But, in the meantime, I have been doing a lot of serious work on my dancing and they have not. Their dancing has remained at the same beginnery standard, while mine has changed and improved dramatically. I no longer enjoy dancing with them, which sometimes causes offence.

    By the way, please check out my own blog, which is stories and musings on my tango life, mostly in Buenos Aires (though I’m currently visiting Europe). You’ll find it at And, if you like it, as I do yours, perhaps we could share link love?

    • Hi terpsichoral,

      You have a great point there. The very same thing has happened to me in my relatively short tango journey. It almost seems cruel to turn down ‘old’ tango buddies (and I use the term buddies very loosely here) but it has to be done. And even a step further.. A lot of times I am amazed at the delusions of grandeur in some people. It really takes a lot of courage to know oneself. The way I see it is, there has to be something in the dance for me as well to ever want to dance with that partner again.

      I’ll head over to your blog now. Glad to have you over here!


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