Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tango snobs

There are plenty of stories, fictitious or not, in which a character ends up becoming the person he despises at the start. Napoleon, the leading pig of Orwell's famed allegory novel Animal Farm, leads a revolt against the human masters, but by the end of the novel has become just like them, learning how to walk, sleeping on beds in rooms, and even socializing with humans. Lately, I feel a lot like Napoleon. Although I've always had a bit of snob in me (remarking to El Ingeniero at a milonga how watching a certain couple dance makes my eyes bleed - so he already knows I'm a snob, and Dr Agsol Rac probably does too...- and previously having had a reputation among beginning tangueras that I'm standoffish, hard to please, picky, arrogant, and thus difficult to dance with because they are concerned of whether I approve - none of which, I admit, is entirely false-), it's never been full blown out as it seems nowadays. My previous rather acidic and hateful post about milonga pet peeves only begins to scratch the surface.

I used to despise those people at the milonga, the ones who act as though they hold the mysterious, magical way to tango, and brush off all others not belonging to the 'clique of the illuminated' as being mere wannabes. I think there were two major turning points to my transformation to who, what I am today at a milonga. At the local festival a few months ago, I was assigned as an interpreter for Javier Rodriguez and Andrea Missé. My perception of the whole experience, from the dance, the music, the little details, and interacting in the community, was completely shaken up, and has been evolving since. The second major turning point was starting to DJ regularly at milongas. From then on I have become an incredibly judgmental asshole.

At milongas where I'm not DJing, I'm sitting there listening, looking, and only dance if and only if several conditions are met: I like the music at the beginning of the tanda (I am developing a taste for the non-rhythmic music... it is rare that I dance to Rodriguez or Biagi, let alone D'Arienzo... but don't worry, I will still play enough of it when I'm DJing), I feel the energy, I spot a suitable tanguera (considering all aspects: does she have her shoes on? have I danced with her before? does this Tanturi-Campos tanda seem to be in congruence with her personality as I know her and with her mood today? Yes, I'm a prick), and I achieve cabeceo with her. Otherwise, I watch and praise some dancers while I grimace in contempt of others. If I do get to dance, I am exceedingly irritated when somebody does not follow the line of dance, and I make it as clear as possible without actually explicitly telling him and proceeding to pick a fist fight (no, I haven't gotten to that point yet... I would probably get banned from the milonga venues). I often am judging far more experienced DJs for recycling tandas or having mediocre tandas where the mood is all over the place. Next thing I know, I'll be rejecting every tanguera that verbally asks me to dance, even if she's a close friend and a great dancer. This would be very Javier Rodriguez, but he can do it because he's THE Javier Rodriguez.

Why is this happening? Is this wrong? I don't know the answers to these questions. But I think the more one gets into a hobby, the more you get a (false?) sense of entitlement, and that's where the snobbishness comes from. I used to be a 'just do it' kind of person at milongas, regardless of Buenos Aires códigos or expectations to abide by the local community customs. Now I suddenly am much more difficult to deal with in a bizarre way. Maybe nowadays I think much more about tango than I did before now that I am more involved in it. The thought of taking a break from this hobby (because that's what it is for me... for now) has crossed my mind, but it's like an alcoholic in front of an open bar told not to drink. During the World Cup, I did take a 'break', but it was mostly because the game schedule conflicted with milonga schedule, as well as to circumvent some tanguera drama. Even then, I listened to tango music all day and practiced tango walking around the apartment, much to the confused amusement of my brother. So basically, once you're in deep enough, you start acting strange and you can't quit it... I remember I asked a tanguera about what the hell was up with that guy at a milonga who is a major snob and acts like a judgmental dick (who does this remind you of?... surprise--> nowadays I get along with him). She just shrugged her shoulders and said: "he loves tango too much". I love tango. Maybe that's why.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Ella Es Así" and a small comment

I'm stealing Alex's idea (opens in new window), with my favorite milonga: Here are 9 interpretations of "Ella Es Así" by Edgardo Donato.

My personal favorite is Ariadna & Fernando's. What's yours?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Milonga pet peeves-don't, please just don't

Last night, the biggest milonga in the city was more crowded than usual, with a bunch of people from out of town. This is usually fine, but yesterday I wanted to get in a fight, or share a few nasty words at least, with multiple people. Namely, the following:

-Leaders dancing with their eyes closed. Are you kidding me??? Not only does said leader look absolutely ridiculous, but he also is a hazard to himself, his partner, and everybody around. I'm all for feeling the moment and the music, but that doesn't mean you close your eyes.
-Performers: People who think they're performing on a crowded dance floor, doing lengthy sequences with long steps requiring much more space than available, and doing them anyway regardless of the couple in front and behind. This also applies to followers who do big, showy adornos regardless of space. Some of them unled..... my 'favorite': unled high boleos as an adorno. Don't do it.
-'Drivers'. Just because the line of dance is figuratively referred to as a lane doesn't mean you're driving on it... In other words, slow the hell down. Your point of reference in terms of speed is the couple in front, not a speedometer. Do not pass, goddammit! And even worse, don't keep switching lanes! If you're going to be performing, do it in the middle of the dance floor where you'll be ridiculed... and stay there, don't cut in front of me, you stupid motherfucker.
-People who don't respect the dancers' right of way. Continuing the traffic analogy, there is no question that the dancers have the right of way on the dance floor. It should be a no-brainer, yet people continue to ignore this, and think it's more important that they get to the bar as soon as possible to get their drink or outside to have a smoke to the point that they pop in front of dancers or just push them. WTF? It also includes people gathering in front of the fan, occupying a significant area that would otherwise be dance space. Thanks for ventilating your sweat and germs to everyone, guys.
-Pissers: a few times, I've gone to the milonga restroom and come out traumatized. People taking care of their needs... then not washing their hands.......... come on, guys, WTF??????
-Gossipers: it's called private life because it's meant to be private. Please mind your own business.

You can be a very nice person off the dance floor. In fact, you could have achieved world peace, cured cancer, ended poverty and hunger worldwide. But if you do any of the above, in my eyes you're Hitler.
The above list is just off the top of my head. There are more. Feel free to suggest other kinds of milongassholes.