I read with interest Jantango’s article entitled Homogenized tango. It left me with so many comments I wished to make, that the only answer was to comment here, where I can let rip without the constraints of a limited comments box.
I suspect I am not alone here, as Janis told me she had over five hundred hits in one day, some record Janis, for which you are to be congratulated.
There can be no doubting the skill of the dancers or their dedication, anything that brings young blood into tango or increases its visibility is to be thanked. I wonder though, could we not have a separate championship for true milonguero style, people who improvise, interpret the music, and dance for each other rather than the audience?
This homogenization is what has put me off other dances, I don’t want to be a clone and I don’t respond well to orders, but if I can feel the music, then I am happy. This standardization is happening over here as well; we must all hold our arms this way, move that way and follow strict order on the floor. I have found myself getting annoyed at other dancers when I am in Buenos Aires, because they do not follow these rules. It took time for me to realize, this is their dance, I do not own any of the floor, if there is a space they will take it, they do not follow our rules.
The milonga floor is a jungle; we must interpret the music, protect the woman, avoid other dancers and on top of this make her enjoy the dance. How can you do all this while sticking to a rigid routine?
Tango is in danger of loosing its roots, we create cookie cutter champions (Jantango’s phrase not mine) they spread out into the world and what the world sees they believe is the real thing. Why would they not? After all they are endorsed by judges from the very centre of Tango, they come from the city of tango, and let us not forget, they look very good.
Ballroom teachers over here (in the UK) now teach Argentine Tango, they learn it from books, they teach to a syllabus, but they know nothing of its roots, the music or of Buenos Aires. As tango is being standardized, they can do this because a standard tango is just up their street.
I will continue to do my own thing, rebel that I am. I have never professed to be the best dancer in the world, far from it. I keep it simple because that is what I am; I improvise because I don’t remember routines, I dance what I feel and ignore what teachers tell me.
I will never be a tango champion, I have no desire to be, the big money will always be with the Porteños anyway. (Apart from last year which I think was just a hiccup)
It is a sad fact that the best milongueros are mostly too old to travel, not able to communicate in other languages and do not wish to leave their beloved Buenos Aires. So the only ambassadors that tango has are these young, up and coming dancers, who have been taught only to give the world what it wants rather than what tango really is.
I hope that some day (sooner rather than later) they will learn to show the world that tango is not about steps, routines and acrobatics, but about the music, improvisation, and the embrace. The tango that I, and others like me, love must not be allowed to be sacrificed on the altar of commercialism, these beautiful and talented people must be shown that there is another way, what is done in demos and competitions is not tango salon. We cannot all dance like them it is futile for us to try, but if we are taught to dance well in a milonga, with a warm embrace, enjoying the music, then I believe Argentina will have given the world not just another business but something that will propagate love, understanding and unity across the world.