The Tango Slap

I went to my first Milonga (tango gathering) yesterday.

To my delight, although I was sitting quietly in a corner, I was quickly swept up to dance. But this is all I heard.

“Abha don’t move your hips!”

“Contain all your energy inside you and maintain your body stiff.”

“Your energy needs to be kept in balance with your body’s axis, this isn’t a free dance — don’t let go.”

“Do not move unless you feel forced to by the man you are dancing with; submit to him completely.”

“Tango has nothing to do with any of the Latin dances you dance; you need to forget everything you have learnt in salsa, chacha, merengue and bachata.”

So I got demoted to a beginners class. I didn’t get up to dance again.

For someone who has been dancing for the last 4 years, being told you can’t do a particular dance is acceptable, but nonetheless a huge dent to your ego.

You become so used to being a rockstar on the dance floor that when suddenly told all the above, that feeling of being a novice again, isn’t fun.

It was my first tango social, and I was quite surprised how entirely different the tango ambiance is to the salsa ambiance. The people were older, dressed in (mainly black) elegant dresses as opposed to provocative slinky salsa stuff. People dance with an intensity that doesn’t even permit them to keep their eyes open; in salsa if you don’t look at the person and at least smile whilst dancing, it is an insult.

Tango is the opposite of every reason I choose to dance. I dance to let go, to be silly, to feel free, to laugh, to disconnect. Tango is everything but these things.

I still liked being there though. I felt the need to be able to dance like that, if only — just to be able to.

But but no way will it ever replace my salsa dancing; at least while I am still young, energetic and flexible.

4 thoughts on “The Tango Slap

  1. aha. its more serious than one expects. with all rules and bounds and sometimes awkwardly traditionl philosophy. next time try the neo-tango much more relaxed yet stylish n fancy. happy dancing

  2. Hi Aha, I like your blog. I am Argentine(and Scottish and Irish,and English) and I LOVE tango. But I didn’t love it when I was young. Maybe it’s an age issue.I am not a good dancer. But I think it’s all about passion, love lost and the bitter-sweet taste of life. Machista, though. Can you imagine saying “You have to abandon yourself completely to the man” in any other context these days? But there’s somethin kitch about tango I love. Do you remember the best scene in Scent of a Woman with R.de Niro, when the girl in red dances a tango with him??Ohhh!!

  3. d: i’ll see how long i last!

    patsy y francisca: I LOVE THAT SCENE — that was the first thing i saw that made me go, man i want to tango

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