Monday, September 6, 2010

Victims of my snobbery, part I

In my previous post, I discussed with some detail my gradual, ongoing transformation to a tango snob. As I said, the morality (or immorality) of being a tango snob is unclear to me. But for now, I decided to embrace what I have become, in an attempt to understand the nature of the snob (or maybe it's just my excuse to be lazy and change, if you're a cynical anti-snob, which itself is, ironically, kinda snobby too). Perhaps I'm just trying to justify myself for something that might be seen as wrong, but I think, as you get in deeper into a hobby, it's inevitable to slowly become at least slightly more knowledgeable in the subject, develop stronger and stronger preferences, becoming pickier each time, and also maybe gain a little sense of entitlement given the amount of time, money, and effort invested in it. "Steve Pastor", Moderator and Feudal Lord of Dance Forums, gave me an example of his that suddenly made things clear:
"The Lion King was in town about a month ago. I'm going to Africa for a second time, and, although I've seen the film, a production in Orlando, etc, I went to see this production. Although someone in my office gave high praise, my reaction was more subdued. Someone called me on it, and it's simple. I've seem many live musicals, etc. over the years. This production of The Lion King was one of many. If you have never been to something like this, it's much more impressive."

But I digress. The point of this blog, as indicated in the title, is to directly point out who the people that irritate me at milongas are. I'm not going to include the obvious, such as people with no respect of the LOD or people who dance awfully even if they've been dancing a while. Of course, I've tried to be as decent as a self-confessed snob as possible, so I haven't been judging those who have obviously been dancing for a short time too harshly. And in the meantime, I'm just going to sit and fret over the people I will describe in a series of posts. That is, until the hypothetical day comes that I am good enough to be able to teach in order to eradicate all the things that annoy me of the tango scene, and in this way, give back to the community, as has been suggested to me. You might laud me and say that, despite my snobbishness, I still have a shred of humility left in me. But it's really an extension of my snobbery, owing to the amount of 'teachers' who have no business teaching, which seems to be proportional to the size of the tango community. Anyway, I digress again.... Without further ado, I present you:

The Escenario Barbie

I have no beef against Tango Escenario. In fact, watching the Escenario category of the Mundial is a lot of fun, especially if they fully express the drama of Pugliese, and if they can pull off Piazzolla, all power to them. But it's called Escenario because it should be saved for the stage. It is perfectly possible to do Tango Escenario on the stage, and switch back to salon/milonguero for social dancing. In fact, a couple participated in both Escenario and Salon in the Mundial, ranking 2nd and 3rd in each.

Last night, I encountered a species that I never thought I would encounter in a milonga. I'd seen her in rare occasion with her partner at a different milonga, and it was clear they were performers. A mutual friend introduced us, and my friend, in private, asked me to dance with her if it wasn't too much trouble. Apparently they are an Argentine couple who work at a local Argentine restaurant performing at shows, but for whatever reason, locals rarely ask her to dance. It became clear why (not sure if it's the same reason that others don't ask her to dance, but just to strengthen my argument, I'll imply it is, with no evidence whatsoever).

She looked pretty from a distance, but from up close, I could see the thick layers of makeup. I just thought 'oh maybe they were performing today and had to look pretty'. It was just a foreboding of things to come. As I embraced her, I have never been so convinced that somebody's boobs are not made of human tissue, but of synthetic material. It was a fitting metaphor of her tango - fake. The embrace was awfully distant. She was more concerned in looking pretty by making her legwork elegant rather than by just following, enjoying the embrace, the dance, and the music. As such, I could barely lead to a proper ocho atras without the embrace falling apart. I tried just walking, but she seemed to become bored. At every move, her torso stayed very still, hinting not so subtly that I should show her the way with the use of my hand (this became very apparent in watching her partner dance with her and other hapless women). I thought to myself "hell no, woman, my hand is for embracing you, not for moving you around like a sack of potatoes!" I guess you have to use your arms to throw your woman around in crazy saltos, ganchos, enganches, and the whole package. But yeah.... fortunately (or very unfortunately for me), I'm not yet enough of a snob, or rather I'm still an inhibited snob, so I endured the agony of the whole tandas. Di Sarli never seemed so eternally damning. From now on, every time I see them at the milonga, I'll politely say hi since we now know each other. But I'll use any excuse not to dance with her, and I will shake my head in contempt when watching them dance.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Victims of my snobbery


  1. yep, sometimes you feel she actually wants to be a pole dancer and you better be tall, skinny, and standing still...

  2. Hi, we just started a new blog on tango history...each day we post an event that
    happened that day in tango can be the birth of a famous singer,
    composer of poet, the debut of a film or the recording of a famous tango song...
    you can even search tango principles according to their sun sign

    Can you help spread the word by letting your students know about it or placing
    a link on your blog...there is no advertising or money involved...we're
    not selling anything, we simply love tango and in particular tango history...we
    welcome any suggestions.....

    If you come to Rome, please let us know...we would be glad to welcome you
    and show you around; my wife and I love meeting and being with people...thanks, have a
    nice day...well here is the link

  3. zentango, amazing initiative!
    I had a similar idea a few weeks ago in trying to revive a stagnant Sunday milonga where I DJ once a week, in making a special tanda each time commemorating that particular day if something remarkable happened in tango history. Todotango has the dates of birth and death of most figures in tango, but that's all there is to it... I believe your new blog is more comprehensive. Thanks a lot for it!