Archive for milonga etiquette

Reality bites

Posted in Tango with tags , on January 11, 2011 by tangobitch

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:  http://tango-beat.blogspot.com/2011/01/upgrade-ticket-germanybuenos.html.  I am going to print it out and hand it out to every tango dancer-wannabe I know.

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It’s now or never

Posted in Tango with tags , , , on January 1, 2011 by tangobitch

I guess this is as good a time as any to start.  It’s been ages since I’ve had a desire to rant publicly about my tango experiences and tango in general, but that single best topic worth kicking off the blog never came up.  Or at least, nothing ever seemed important enough once a day or two had passed after I felt passionately bitchy about it.

So here goes my first rant…  it’s nothing new and it’s nothing exciting, but has to be my biggest tango pet-peeve:  non-use of  the cabeceo.  Tangueros in the UK, or at least those in the milongas I’ve been to, do not feel the need to use the cabeceo.  There are a few who do, but they are certainly the exception.

Lack of the use of the cabeceo is, to say the least, irritating.  How come so many men fail to  realise how tiring it is for a tanguera to have to constantly come up with a decent set of excuses to refuse to dance?  There may well be a set of reasons for any woman to not want to dance with a particular dancer for a particular tanda on a particular occasion.  The reason could be my mood, his attitude, the music, his dancing in general, the vibe he gives off tonight, his embrace, connection (or lack thereof), his style, my level, his level,  my self-confidence on the  day, …  or any combination of these or other factors.  Why put one or both of us  into the unpleasant situation of being refused, feeling bad for refusing, or, upon failure to come up with a creative excuse, putting up with a tanda because it was–for some silly reason–impossible to avoid?  I am very passionate about my tango; I never want to ‘put up’ with any tanda or have anyone ruin a single dance, let alone a tanda or even an entire evening for me.  That’s why the cabeceo matters.

It’s not only the tangueros.  It would be nice if the milonga  organisers made the slightest effort to promote the use of cabeceo.  There’s been a long  discussion thread about this on Tango-L if anybody’s interested.  The how and the why on what to do and what not to do was dissected at length, so I will not digress here.  Lack of encouragement in this direction is simply disappointing, although I feel the responsibility belongs primarily to the dancers themselves.  It has to start somewhere, though.  And that’s where I think the milonga organisers and other influencers (instructors, experienced dancers, etc) within the tango community can help most.

I think it will be a while, if ever, before the cabeceo becomes widely used here.  In the meantime, if I become a popular dancer, I might try to ruin my chances of ever getting any invites by demanding the cabeceo.  And of course, I’ll make sure to report the results of such an experiment here.

p.s. I read about this in countless blogs / articles, but thanks to Bora (http://borastangojourney.com/) for describing so well ( in her latest series of posts about her Buenos Aires visit) how a woman can be in control.