Regular readers will know that I do tend to poke a little and provoke an argument. I do this because I know that many long held opinions are not held through a logical argument but simply because that is the view we have always had or because of some principle or other. I have even been known to start an argument with an opinion that is contrary to my own, just for the sake of debate.

Debate, you see, can be a useful way for us all to question our own beliefs, because if we are not challenged we simply believe that our views are right. In this way lies extremism.

So I welcome any comments that challenge my views, as much, if not more than those agreeing with me.

I see it often on forums, someone has their views challenged, and because they have no real argument they resort to insults and threats. For me, at least, this is the point where the argument is lost. The beauty of forums of course is that, unlike face to face arguments, you can go away and research every answer before you reply. This should mean that the arguments there, are more thought out and fact based, yet time and again I find myself insulted and threatened. Not that this bothers me at all, after all the other beauty of forums is that you are largely anonymous. I just wonder why anyone would feel the need, unless of course their arguments are so weak to start with (and maybe their intellect as well) or they just cannot be bothered to do any research.

I carry on with the forums because I enjoy the cut and thrust, also I like poking fun at people who express views on something of which they have little or no knowledge. There will always be those who think that they can bully the rest of us into accepting their views, but the amount of people who come back with solid and well thought out answers gives me hope.

So because I get so few comments that contradict me, I thought that I should spend some time on one that does: Anna, I am sure will be happy to enter debate with me, but feel free if anyone else wishes to come in.

I first learned to tango in a very showy way. The dancing we did looked good to anyone not in the know, and we were taught that you could tango to anything, if you were any good. It took two tango festivals and a fortnight in Buenos Aires to convince me of the error of my ways. A routine, however well danced cannot be a good reflection of musicality, and what we did was pure routine.

Whenever we see anyone who dances “Big” or in the Nuevo style, they have little or no regard to the music. There are good reasons, of course. Firstly, if you dance to just anything, the music is unpredictable, unless you know it very well you cannot know when it will change cadence. Secondly when you are dancing big, every move takes time, so that by the time you realise that the music has changed you are already doing something not fitted to the music.

I have no doubt there are people that dance well in the Nuevo style, but usually they know a particular tune very well and only do their bit to a limited repertoire.

I know people who love to dance to Pugliese, the early stuff I can cope with, but later music is too Avant Garde for me. The people who love it listen to it avidly and know its every change and mood. This is fine because they know it well they can dance it. Me? I can’t cope, that is a failing on my part of course, but for me there is so much unexplored music from the Golden Age that I can live with that. I will leave Pugliese for now, and may be in time I will be familiar enough, who knows some day?

There is much confusion about Nuevo, in close hold, milonguero style you cannot see very much of the participants and almost nothing of the lady. That is why Nuevo was invented, the open style and big moves are specifically designed for the cinema and stage for the participants to be seen. Much of what we see masquerading as Nuevo is just anti social dancing, not done for the stage, but someone trying to show off to an audience who are just not interested, or some poor woman who is struggling to keep up with some very poor leading.

If you want to be seen, dance Nuevo. If you want to show off dance Nuevo. But are we not dancing for our own pleasure, for the pleasure of our partners, the joy of the music and just for three minutes of stolen bliss? Don’t ruin the moment by caring what others may think, feel the mood, forget steps, just drift away to the strains of some of the best musicians who ever lived.

And finally, if you disagree with anything I say, or just want to provoke debate, please comment, surely Anna is not the only person out there who occasionally disagrees with me.



Filed under milonga, Tango

6 responses to “Arguments

  1. John

    I’ve been thinking quite a bit about nuevo and how people react to it. In brief my conclusion is: blame the teaching not the style, and cast yee not the first stone… so here’s my contribution to the argument/disscussion.

    Thanks to JanTango, I found the infamous interview with Chicho as well as an earlier one from March ’08 and all the dance-forum commentary. My own take on those interviews is not the confession of a crime, merely one of incompetence. If you can get passed the confession bit you find out that Frumboli strives for many of the same things that we do in our dancing, there’s a deep respect for the connection between dancers and the music and a recognised debt to the culture of the traditional dance. Yes there are nuevo dancers who are missing something that gets called Tango ‘essence’ but my reading of those interviews places the blame with the teaching, not the style. Possibly the translation missed something.

    I think it’s here that we find the main problem with much of nuevo land. The teachers have missed something. We cry out, ‘they have no musicality’, but did they have teachers who emphasised it? We accuse ‘them’ of having no connection with their partners, I ask if this is a prerogative of nuevo? are Salon dancers handed musicality when they walk into a class? from some of the dancing I’ve seen, I think not. Could you count the dancers you’ve seen leading with their arms? are you sure they were all nuevo dancers? And I think we should also be careful about the ‘choreography’ word too.

    There do seem to be teachers who pass on the flash but not the foundation, why do they get away with it? I don’t know. But poor teaching is not only to be found in the world of nuevo, and certainly as often as not comes with a latino accent. I do know, that where a good teacher exists dancers will find them. In Chester we’ve seen a teacher who emphasises the foundations of the dance, who makes learning more difficult for their students, find success. So I don’t think we can really blame market forces for poor teaching, a good teacher will find students without resorting to fancy.

    So how about the style itself? I’ve only really seen it danced by very good dancers. I’ve always seen it as a lyrical exploration of the music it’s danced to. Possibly using techniques that you wouldn’t normally see at a Salon, but it doesn’t have to be danced ‘large’, not every dance has lift and kicks, not every dance crammed to the brim, every musical accent ticked off. I think there may be a fine line to be recognised between ‘fantasia’ on stage and nuevo on the floor. The dancers who started the movement were escaping what they saw as the strictures and confines of their time. They wanted the freedom to explore their dance. I would ask what is art without a bit of exploration? Is there no value in it?

    I think that the nuevo scene has started to grow up. I think that ‘the’ interview shows an awareness that the teaching needs to be improved. There are signs of a growing awareness from within the London scene about what good teaching is about. I think that we should foster improved education, regardless of the style a person dances, not shut out all those who are seen as ‘unclean’. And before you tell someone that they’re not dancing ‘real’ tango, can you be sure that you are? Could you define it? write it down? In reality no milonguero danced the same dance, and tango has always evolved. From the dance that bounced on poorly paved streets to the one that glided across good wood floors. We need to be careful that we don’t stifle the life out of tango in the same way that many dancers need to recognise the foundations that they dance on if they truly want to understand their art.

    Kind Regards,

  2. tangobob

    Thank you and welcome. They call this giving room to fellow dancers “dancing with the room” that is something people miss when they start big moves. There is an obvious lack of respect for other dancers when this happens, even if as they say they are dancing to the music. I believe everyone who is serious about tango will eventually go to Buenos Aires, but if and when you go make sure someone (maybe your teachers) takes you to some local milongas, not the usual tourist traps. I have encountered bad dancing in BsAs because the milongas where tourists go to to see tango, are full of tourists.

  3. Mr Tango Walker

    Sorry Bob but you are right in your observations about tango nuevo..And correct about dancing for the music and stolen moments of bliss…Infact i could’nt agree more with this post…And as jan has stated Even Chicho Frumboli has admitted what he taught did not contain any essence of what tango is about..I have not been to BsAs but i’m lucky because my teachers go nearly every year dances what they teach and teach what they dance and it is always for the milonga nothing else…And it’s always about the music…My teachers also talk about respect. Respect for the other couples dancing around us and whenever possible leaving room between us there by giving ourselves and the couple in front time to make their dance and hopefully the leader behind us would be observing and dancing in the same manner..Allowing all to dance..But most importantly our partners feel safe…

  4. tangobob

    Thanks for the comments, I was hoping for someone to put up an argument, may be there is non.
    The trip to BsAs really does enlighten one. I have seen many who thought that they were great dancers suddenly lost and overcome when faced with Los Consegrados or El Beso. But you cannot blame someone from the barrios, when they see a way to make a fortune in the northern hemisphere unfortunate but true, we northern dancers are just a meal ticket.

  5. Captain Jep

    Nope Bob I agree with most of that 🙂

    Especially as I struggle so hard to find good danceable nuevo music 😉

    Still, lets not be too dismissive – there are always rubies in the dust…

  6. jantango


    I can’t argue or disagree with you on anything. We see eye to eye on everything, even right down to late Pugliese which isn’t danceable (but everyone wants to dance to it–why?).

    I also agree that there is a lot of confusion about nuevo tango. Even Chicho Frumboli has admitted the error of his ways in a published interview. He knows there is not a drop of real tango essence in that exhibition dance that has made him and others rich and famous as its masters. Now one of them has started teaching his version of tango milonguero. They change like the wind–whatever the current demand is in the biggest market. At some point, all those who invested in years of classes to learn nuevo will find themselves starting over to learn how to dance tango. Like you, I found out sooner rather than later by making a trip to BsAs to see for myself. That changed everything for me.

    Great post!

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