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October 20, 2008


A visitor’s experience of Tango in Singapore

Having lived in different cities and also the chance to dance Tango in a few countries, I can certainly relate to the nerves and the insecurities that a new-comer to the scene can experience. Having said that, I was rather surprised and somewhat disappointed to see a “C-” assessment by Dorcinda on her review of Tango in Singapore, albeit from over a year ago.

In particular she cited the following “pet peeves”:

  1. Unfriendly or “anti-outsider” community.
  2. Not inviting ladies properly.
  3. Not finishing the tandas
  4. Criticizing your dance partner during the dance.
  5. “A guy who repeats the same move three or more times, cuz the girl didn’t do it right the first time.”

By the way, I don’t know about you, but I agree wholeheartedly with her that all these rightfully deserve the “pet peeves” label! It’s just that I was quite surprised to see all of them happening at the same milonga.

On a more serious note, although the events described in her post did not take place at the milongas I ran (fortnightly milongas held between March 2006 – January 2008), it’s nevertheless important to highlight such comments because they can reflect poorly on the community as a whole. It can be also a little unjustified considering that my personal experiences of milongas in Singapore are generally favourable. After all, it’s rather unfair to have the reputation of the Tango scene in Singapore tarnished as the result of a few inconsiderate individuals, no?

While points 2 and onward are really down to the etiquettes of individuals in a Tango community, I personally feel the host of any milonga has a large responsibility in addressing the first issue. After all, a patron who walks in the door and pays a entrance fee has a right to expect a certain level of hospitality from venue host, no? This is especially so for a relatively small community like the one in Singapore. As an example, at my milongas, I always made a point of having a few words with the overseas visitors and then introducing them to some people to get their night started.

As for the “Pet peeves” mentioned in the post, I am most curious as to who were the “culprits”, especially for final 2 points. In fact, the last 2 points brought back memories of some thoughts I had on lecturing on the dance floor here. 🙂

Well, hopefully, one year on, the culprits involved have matured a bit more in their Tango manners…

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  1. CK Foo
    Nov 7 2011

    I assume this particular visitor went to Abrazos, so you are quite glad you are an ‘innocent’ party. I understand there is much unhappiness between you (& Janet) and the Abrazos folks.

    Thus, it is unlikely that the unfriendly culprits would by yourself or your friends (namely the students of J&M), although the behaviour generally displayed by your friends are equally deplorable. This group displays clique behaviour, does not dance with anyone outside of their group… and in fact, came across as being arrogant in the overseas tango events they went to….

    That is why the community in Singapore will never grow.

  2. Nov 7 2011


    Wow, you seem to have quite a bit of pent-up emotions!

    Now, despite my own misgivings about Abrazos, as people in our community who know me, I have always chosen not to air anyone’s dirty laundry in public. People are surely mature enough to make up their own minds for themselves.

    In this case I was merely using this visitor’s comments to highlight things which I dislike seeing at milongas. My remarks still stand: the host of a milonga sets the tone for the event. Incidentally, since you don’t seem to know much about the local community, for your information, we had always made it a point to introduce visitors at EVERY milonga held at IXIdanza. Now, how “anti-outsider” is that??

    While admittedly I may not get to dance with all the ladies at every milonga I organised for various reasons, I do try to achieve that over a period of time. If I was “quite glad as an innocent party” as you put it, I’d say it was only because this visitor did not catch me on an “off” day when I was not in good mood/shape! However, since you chose to read more into it, then so be it.

    Regarding your second point, I am not really sure how you came to your conclusions? Since 2008 I have only travelled twice to overseas tango events, and with different groups of people each time. I certainly have danced with people from other communities/styles/schools, etc. After all, that’s the whole point of travelling to other events, no? I really can’t imagine people not dancing with the locals at an overseas event, my friends or not? It goes without saying that anyone who has been taught the right attitudes will not commit the pet peeves 2-4.

    For future reference, IXIdanza began its life in March 2006 and we had our last milonga in February 2008. And by the way, unlike what you had commented in the original post, I am not a “progidy” [sic] of JM, as you put it. In fact, I bet JM will be quite amused if you had asked him about it. 🙂

  3. TangoAvenger
    Dec 7 2011

    CK Foo seems very angry… I would love to know why 🙂

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