Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tango etiquette link roundup

First of all, The Basics

More like an article on basic technique, really--but containing some excellent points

Ney Melo's article on inviting and accepting--or declining

TinaTangoes: various tales of milonga manners (or lack thereof) in action

La Planchadora tells it like it is

(Actually, she always told it like it is. I really wish she were still writing, but at least her archives make for a very rich and entertaining mine of oh-God-so-true snark.)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

On and on...

I just noticed how long both of my first two posts are. Clearly, keeping things to a more reasonable length should be something I work on. I don't want to perpetually go on for M i l e s, the way some tango-bloggers do!

Maybe it'll come more easily as I start to feel like I've established my identity here and figured out my purpose a bit more clearly.

Friday, January 29, 2010

At the tango bar

It hasn't been my best night. There aren't usually many men I can dance with at these tango nights at a local bar; the regular group here dances open embrace, and I'm not very good at that. I've stuck with the milonguero style in close embrace nearly exclusively, because I'd rather be very good at one thing than less good at two.

(Not to say that everyone who switch-hits does so with diminished quality--just that I feel like I would.)

One of my semi-regular partners cabeceos me almost as soon as I get my shoes on; he seems pleased to see me. The floor is sticky--new varnish, I later learn; I had thought it was people tracking in snow--and the navigation is perilous, as it often is with this group, and still more so on this tiny floor. But we dance fairly well anyway.

I sit out a long time; I'm used to that here. Over the time that I've been coming here, I've found that I'd rather have fewer dances but really enjoy them, than have many that make me unhappy for one reason or another. (I detect a trend in my thinking...)

I try to cabeceo the DJ when he passes by after starting a traditional tanda. He plays a mix of classic tango and newer things. Too many non-tango songs for my taste--again, mostly because I'm not very good at dancing to them--but lots of the regulars here like it. He sees me, smiles, but rejects the attempt. He's on his way to meet someone else. That's okay; I know we'll dance some other night, when we have more time.

I sit back and wait, watching the swirl on the dance floor.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The beginning

I stumbled into tango about four years ago. Like most great things in life, or so I've heard, it began more or less by accident. After graduating college and entering the working world, I found myself with obscene amounts of time on my hands in the evenings. (What do people do when they're not plowing through piles of literary criticism and frantically writing papers the night before they're due?) I'd always wanted to learn to dance--something, anything, it was all the same to me and my two left feet, my repressed Anglo-Catholic hips, my hopeless inability to memorize choreography, and my mild case of directional dyslexia. Still, I'd always wanted to learn to dance.

(I'd probably seen too many movies in which the class wallflower, supposedly unrecognizably beautiful now that she's taken off her glasses and gotten a decent dress, steps onto the dance floor and dazzles everyone at the prom; something like that. I still dream of that for myself, secretly. Well, not very secretly at all, now...)

So one evening, I decided to look up dance classes in my hometown, where I was once again living. There was a ballroom class, but it met on a night when I already had a firm commitment. Further down the list was a milonguero-style Argentine tango class (whatever that meant).

"Tango," I mused, as visions flashed through my mind of sinuous women in fishnet stockings with roses in their hair, twining their legs around their partners--broad-shouldered toughs in pinstriped trousers and fedoras--each staring into the other's eyes with a smoldering look of mingled hatred and desire. "That sounds sexy interesting... And maybe I'll meet some nice guys there."

Never mind that I don't have the type of body that can make that sort of movie-tango thing look good (there is nothing sinuous about me), or that I'd feel like a fool trying. The class would only be once a week for about a month, and it wasn't expensive. If I didn't like it, no big deal; I'd try something else later.

It turned out very different than I expected.