Tango Tyrant?

Some one said to me that my views come across as extreme, I hope that is not so. My presentation is always on the jokey side, I never take myself too seriously and I hope my readers do not either. That is why I always ask for comments and there is an open invitation to anyone with my email to drop me a line if they think I have said anything in any way upsetting. That does not however mean I will give up editorial control, what I say here is my own thoughts, comments, unless abusive or spam, will always be published whether or not I agree with them, but I will change my own words only if they upset or seem to suggest something other than I intended.

My views and my heart are very much with traditional tango but allsorts are tolerated here, the community is not big enough to split. You will not get me doing tango to non tango music, but if others choose, so be it. Expect me to be sitting down though.

On the subject of extreme views I have just read a very interesting article called Tango Tyrant. I desperately wanted to comment, but in the way of these things, when you really want to comment, comments are not allowed.

So hopefully I will not be in too much trouble if I quote bits of it here.

Our Tango Tyrant said many of the things I do, but as is so often the case, he also says things to which I would not agree like “A proper Milonga should have a curtain at the door” while this is often true, surely you cannot decide on a places authenticity by one piece of soft furnishing. I could go on about where we agree or not, but this is not my point. My point is that, tango is different things to different people, we can comment gently, we can advise, correct even (to a limit) but we should not be rude or forceful.

People reading my blogs may get the impression that I can be a bit of a Tango Tyrant, I hope I am not. My methods are more softly spoken; I will dance with a woman and slowly introduce some complexity. If she goes off on her own I will let her this time but then take a more firm hold, if she fails to follow I will try again or something else. The Milonga floor is no place to teach or to lecture.

Fortunately now in this part of the woods ladies are taught to follow and not taught complex routines. This does not mean all women follow well here, we do get wilful women, who enjoy tango in their own way. While I find it frustrating at times, they seem to enjoy it and if I stood there lecturing them, they would not want to dance with me, if they stayed with tango at all. No, by constantly giving good lead and waiting while they return after their excursions I think they will in time become good followers rather than resentful as they could if I were  more aggressive.

Catch me on a bad day and I can seem aggressive, this is an unfortunate side effect of having to work long hours. When I arrive at a tango class after being awake already seventeen hours and after four hours sleep I hope that my followers will understand and forgive me.

There must be rules, in everything you do and everywhere you go there are rules, so why should tango be different, but to call us the Tango police or even tango tyrants is unfair.

I like to think we keep discipline in an informal way, with a smile on our faces.

Correction should be done gently and with a smile, leads firm but definite, and instruction limited to the class.

I hope I do not come across like the man in this article, if I do you should definitely tell me.

This is the address of the article; I just hope I have not contravened some copyright laws by including an extract here in blue.


Friday night found me back at Neg’s and very jolly it was too. I took my camera for a bit of shoe porn and had a fine time adding to my collection. I lingered uncharacteristically long upstairs (ain’t I getting brave?) happy to watch the dancers and enjoy the music, while chatting to Bb the Wise and Ms Domestic Wildlife. With my eye way off the cabecea ball I was startled to be asked to dance. The gorgeous young Turk smelled of cinnamon and spoke honeyed words in response to my apology. I could have eaten up every last baklava bit of him. But I’m on a strict connubial diet, so I went downstairs to join the LGTN group for some fat-(chance) burning. As I rose from stowing my camera behind the bench, a man I’d never seen before asked me to dance.

He had the most gracious embrace-approach I’d ever come across – wordless yet warm, his focus so soothing I found my breathing synchronizing with his. Was this the Holy Grail, CONNECTION? Before we’d even touched hands?

Things deteriorated rapidly after that.

(After one track)
TT: “Where did you learn these things you do?”
LD: (Noting the beetling of his brow)
“If you mean my mistakes, I assure you I make them up as I go along.”
TT: (Unamused)
“That’s the trouble with the teaching here; you haven’t been taught to follow. ”
LD: “Sorry. I’ve only been dancing three months.”
TT: “You can be taught to follow in three hours, but you need one-to-one tuition. You’ve been in group lessons, haven’t you?
LD: “Guilty as charged.”
TT: “There’s no point dancing with beginners. You won’t learn anything but bad habits.”

Other things he said:

  • Too many people are getting into teaching and dancing tango without understanding enough about it
  • Most milongas have no business calling themselves by that name
  • British dancers are afraid of close embrace
  • Followers who apologise are just getting retaliation in early
  • The British give blanket veneration to Argentinian dancers; many don’t deserve it.

Experienced dancers I have spoken to admit there is some truth in TT’s statements. But why did I endure his head-shaking admonitions through three tandas? Because I glimpsed the possibilities inherent in following a very confident and creative lead. But a milonga is no place to malinger, so his rate being the going one, I arranged a lesson.

As always you comments are always welcome here.



Filed under milonga, Tango

5 responses to “Tango Tyrant?

  1. I wouldn’t hold London up as an example of good floorcraft… 🙂

  2. tangobob

    Thank you for that. We have a few in the north who profess to be great tango dancers but who’s floorcraft is lacking, fortunately not many are in our area.It’s a big country when you get out of London.

  3. I’ve no problem with you quoting that article (p.s. I’ve not enabled comments on purpose; they’re articles not blog entries; that said I may change things at some point…).

    As for La Dulce, it’s quite possible you’ve danced with her, she lives over your way – although bear in mind I’m a Londoner so anywhere North of Milton Keynes is “The North” to me :).

    In hindsight, I suspect TT was either trying to pick LD up, impressing her with his mastery, or he was trying to put her down in order to get a lesson from her; neither is an edifying approach of course. And he’s a right pain to dance behind, his floorcraft and consideration of others is – ironically – not great.


    P.S. LaDulce’s blog has been moved to http://www.learningtango.com/LaDulce.html; she went to BsAs recently and has written-up her experiences there.

  4. tangobob

    I know so many ladies who have been or still are at “that point”, we should encourage them, especially if they have the guts to come to a milonga. We should never feel bad about expressing our opinions or feelings, but it is important not to do it in a rude way.
    I get the feeling you have been treated rudely from your comment, it’s OK to be a bit intollerent now and again. The people close to you know the real you.

  5. Arlene

    Hey Bob,

    As Sally said (in, When Harry met Sally) ‘I just like it the way I like it’, or words to that effect, when she orders her salad dressing on the side.

    We know what we like Bob and we shouldn’t feel bad for saying so. I have had people try and argue with me about how I feel about Tango and what it means to me! If you ask me how I feel about it, I will tell you. If it feels different for you, fine, please tell me about it, but don’t argue with me about my feelings or my opinion when you have asked me for it.

    I totally get where you are coming from Bob! 🙂

    As for Tango Tyrant, the person is an ass.

    As far as LD is conconcerned, well, we ladies have all been there at one point, but hopefully she will be a fast learner and just walk away when someone starts talking to her in that way. Send her in my direction and we will help her in dealing with idiots like that.

    I am not being very tolerant today Bob! 😉

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