Tag Archives: Saying No

The Honeymoon Phase is Over When:

Honeymoon Bliss?

…you don’t feel the need to dance every “tanda”.

…you actually enjoy sitting and listening to the music at a milonga.

…you have no desire to dance outside on a concrete floor, in cold weather, or at other locations not meant for Tango.

…you are aware of the Tango music you are amassing – you no longer download/copy any song that is Tango-like in nature.

…you are no longer interested in volcadas/colgadas/ganchos (if you ever were).

…you no longer attempt to put Tango moves to every piece of music (if you ever did).

…you no longer find it acceptable to hear anything but “golden era” Tango music at a milonga (if you ever did).

…you know how to decline a dance… and you do it.

…you no longer think “El Huracan” is a good piece of music to dance to (unless it’s D’Arienzo’s ’44) and you’ve heard “Desde el alma”, “Corazón de oro”, and Poema” (Canaro) played often enough, thank you.

…you think it’s outrageous to hear 3 or more D’Arienzo Tango tandas played at the milonga (especially if it’s less than 4 hours long)… and in fact, you don’t think everything your local DJ plays is good, is in a properly constructed tanda (i.e., what happened to playing songs from the same era?!), or is being played at the appropriate time in the night (because you can actually hear the difference between the songs AND you are actually listening to the music now).

…you do not want to hear Tango tandas by D’Arienzo and DiSarli following one another (too much!).

…you still love Caló with Berón, but you now know that it is like vanilla-flavoured ice cream (flavoured with REAL vanilla) – simple and special, but not the end-all of Tango music. (A friendly poke to some of you out there – you know who you are ;)

…you no longer think that chest contact alone amounts to an embrace – you want more than a feather-light touch.

…you no longer think that any/every teacher brought to your city or seen on YouTube is amazing and you are not impressed or interested in all the tricks and flashy moves they do.

In many ways, it makes us sad to admit that we are no longer in the Tango honeymoon phase. On the flip-side of the coin, we are happy that we are not dancers who are STUCK in the honeymoon phase – and there are many of those.  Once you grow out of the honeymoon phase, that is when you and your dance can begin to mature. We feel that we are now more knowledgeable, our dancing has evolved, and we don’t live in a delusion. We KNOW that Tango in Buenos Aires is so much better.

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Javier Rodriguez, Castration, and More

Oh Javier… how we love thee.

If you haven’t been fortunate enough to have learned from Javier Rodriguez, let us share some of his wisdom with you. But first, let us give you a mini-summary of Javier in his role as a teacher.

Javier is blunt, has no shame, and shares all that he has learned and knows about Tango without apology. We’ve heard that (North) American Tango dancers/communities have found him to be too abrasive and too frank (ex., he has no problem telling women to stop squeezing their “chichi“) and he doesn’t work as a teacher so that he can lie to you and tell you how good your tango already is.

In North America (and we’re starting to think in all English-speaking countries) everything needs to be sugar-coated and oh-so-positive. That’s why anything goes in North American Tango. We don’t want to be told what Tango is or how to do it. We’ll tell people to follow Gavito’s advice when he tells a class to only speak positively about Tango and to only say what we like  about a person’s dance (although we don’t know the circumstances behind that comment and in fact, he has told dancers to also notice what they don’t like),  yet we won’t listen to Gavito when he says the embrace and the walk are what make Tango what it is. We think we can do it better and we think we should change it to make it our own (while calling it by the same name).

Meanwhile, in Asia, many of the cultures may be more direct (How old are you? Are you married? Do you have children? Why not?). However, they sure as hell aren’t used to hearing about “chichis”. Yet it’s these same Asian communities that embrace the traditions of Argentine Tango and will happily do as they are asked. They respect and look up to their teachers.

With that said, let us divulge some wonderful insights Javier and Andrea shared with the class in Seoul:

Don’t Castrate Your Partner Women, pull your hips back and make room for the men. When you keep your hips flat, you castrate the man you are dancing with by stripping him of his freedom to walk forward without restraint.

Javier demonstrated this with multiple men and we don’t think there was a person left in that class that doubted this assertion.

Hierarchy Among Dancers  Javier & Andrea were asked about a problem that exists in various communities. What happens when the best dancers only want to dance with the best dancers, the mediocre followers only want to dance with the best leaders, and the mediocre leaders are left wanting? Javier responded (in a way that most of us North Americans don’t like to hear) that this is the way it is everywhere around the world… and this is the way it should be. If the mediocre dancers want to dance with the best dancers, they need to become better dancers. If the best dancers are already dancing with them, the mediocre dancers have no reason to improve.*

* There are too many dancers who no longer take lessons OR who only take lessons that teach new sequences rather than those that improve (BASIC) technique (which is where the problems lie).

Hierarchy on the Dancefloor  Many dancers understand the dancefloor setup now. There’s an outer lane and one or more inner lanes. Javier & Andrea told all of us what many people learn after going to Buenos Aires: The outer lane is for the best dancers. It’s for those who understand floorcraft and who can dance well. Those who cannot follow the rules of floorcraft and, more importantly, are not very good dancers, should dance in the inner lanes.*

*Swallow your ego and place yourself accordingly on the dancefloor. In the same token, deal with the crappy floorcraft and try to dance in the outer lane if you’re one of the better dancers in the community.

Our Thoughts on What Others May Consider IDOLIZATION

We’re not sure where the loathing of “idolization” has come from. We understand that some people take their idolization too far… and obviously a teacher is not a god. But it seems that people are loathing the fact that some dancers look up to their teachers as mentors – with respect and adoration. Those dancers who respect and learn from/follow one or two professional teachers tend to be the best dancers in a room. It’s those dancers who learn from anybody and everybody who CLEARLY show no progress in their dance.


Mopping The Floor

We assume in all communities there exists certain men who are known to approach almost all women for a dance.  They will not even attempt to pick up on any non-verbal cues including a shake of the head in the negative.  In fact, they will even ignore verbal cues such as “not now”, “I’m tired”, and “maybe later”.  At times, these men will practically drag the women onto the dance floor.  All of this should make it perfectly clear to these women what kind of dancing will ensue.   These men proceed to mop the floor clean with their partner for the duration of the tanda.  It is embarrassing and torturous, and some women quickly learn from this experience and will never again say yes to these men.  Others can’t find it in themselves to say no and allow themselves to be tortured over and over again (because “mopping men” tend to be Leading Cheaters).

You never have to dance with a man you do not want to.  Please don’t believe otherwise. Use the cabeceo, but if you don’t, remember that this does not negate the fact that women can make choices.  We live in a country that tries to provide women with equal rights.  Women should grab this equal right by the horns and JUST SAY NO.  Stop dancing with the “mopping men” because they do not respect you or your Tango.


Old School… “May I Have This Dance?”

After spending 8 months in Buenos Aires and experiencing the intelligently invented “cabeceo“, returning to Toronto’s way of requesting dances was quite difficult… to say the least.  One lovely milonga here in TO is encouraging it’s attendees to use the “cabeceo”.  We’re keeping our fingers crossed that our community will “accept this dance” and be transformed.

Without the “cabeceo”, the somewhat accepted norm is that men ask women to dance.  Not surprisingly, as a feminist, K never hesitated to ask men to dance in the past (this was before the term “cabeceo” had entered the vocabulary of the Toronto Tango community).  We are not in the 1950′s.  These are modern times and IF a community does not want to fully incorporate all the codes and traditions of Argentine Tango, then we do believe that both men and women should be asking for dances.  That said, men have a harder job in the dance (with leading and floorcraft).  For that reason, we are tempted to say women shouldn’t ask men to dance.  Either way, women and men must both learn how to say “no” AND how to be ready for and accept rejection.

We both have difficulties saying no.  The ability to say “no” truly says a lot about one’s personality.  K needs to mentally prepare herself to do so.  After surveying the dance floor and its dancers, and making personal I-will-NOT-dance-with-him notes in her head, she is more prepared to say no if any of those men approach her.  K is the list-maker… the organizer.

Meanwhile Jorge keeps repeating to himself and to K that he will NOT dance with such-and-such a dancer, but when that dancer comes and asks him, “yes” is out of his mouth with barely a hesitation.  Jorge is a people-pleaser (something he hates about himself) and has difficulties dealing with conflict.

What an absolutely ridiculous situation to deal with when the “cabeceo” exists.  However there have been comments in our community that the “cabeceo” is archaic.  Sorry… what?!  Archaic is the idea that women are supposed to sit in a milonga looking pretty while they wait for a man to come and ask them to dance!  That or they can stalk men, corner them, and practically force them into a dance (unfortunately, that tends to be the extreme that women who do the asking choose).

The point is, IF individuals or communities do not want to use the “cabeceo”, and women and men are asking one another for dances, remember this one simple rule: Never NEVER stalk your potential dance partner.  Both of us have been the victim of this.  K’s stalker sat only a few seats away and attempted to “cabeceo” her.  Instead of understanding that she did not want to dance with him when she ignored him, the stalker continued to sit and stare through 2 tandas and only stopped for the third tanda when she got up to dance with Jorge.  However, upon her return, stalker decided that since the “cabeceo” didn’t work (that girl must be stupid or blind!?), he would just go straight up to K and ask for a dance!?  K politely declined, but was left to wonder if it was the stalker that was stupid or blind.

Jorge dealt with a similar situation when a female dancer, rather than coming directly up to him to ask for a dance, sat down a couple chairs away (twice) to “cabeceo” him.  Obviously there is a huge misunderstanding of how the “cabeceo” is used if the situation is still causing discomfort and awkwardness for one or both parties.

This may be Toronto, but we are dancing Argentine Tango.  There is enough difficulty in our Tango community embracing our partners and so the least we could do is embrace the culture of Tango.