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January 22, 2010


Joy of dancing

This was meant to be the last post related to my trip to Buenos Aires in 2009, which unfortunately I never managed to complete satisfactorily, till now.

“Why do we dance Tango?”

To many people, and I am presuming that you are at least keen enough to have devoted some time to take classes to learn to dance Tango well since you are reading this blog, this may seem like a no-brainer question?

From my observations during the trip to Buenos Aires, the local Argentinians probably took up Tango for the following basic (although this is by no means authoritative) reasons: for the company (e.g. keeping in touch with friends, singles looking for companionship, etc.), earn a living (as instructors, organisers, etc.) but, perhaps most likely of all, for the pure enjoyment of Tango music and the dance itself.

On the other hand, for the endless stream of Tango tourists like ourselves, who finally made the long trek to Tango mecca, I suspect the most common reason for going to Buenos Aires is to improve our dancing. I mean, after spending quite a fortune in money and time, wouldn’t you want to get your money’s worth? We want to perfect our techniques and aim to be a better dancer in the technical sense.

What I have come to realise at the end of my BA experience – and 10 months down the track I still feel the same – is that some of the best lessons are really more abstract than the classes taken or how many dances I had.

From what I could see, the local Argentinians (older ones at least) are not obsessed with techniques. However, this is not to say they don’t value or can’t appreciate good techniques, as Rick at tangoandchaos has amply shown. It’s just they want to dance and have fun, without getting bogged down by the technical aspects of the dance. They don’t need to move just so, arms in this position, etc.. If something goes wrong: fine, move on! There is no urgency to get hung up on learning some new super-duper turn. To paraphrase what one of our teachers said, which incidentally echoes my thoughts here (from a different teacher):

You need to move in order to dance. To move, stop thinking, listen to the music and just dance!

I think this really sums up the attitude of many locals. Soak up the music, and let it get under your skin. When you move, move with confidence your entire body and soul. I must say, some of the best moments I have witnessed at the milongas were not necessarily performances from the big names (although those were good too! 🙂 ) but middle-aged couples dancing lovingly and energetically to staccato beats of D’Arienzo! Incidentally, throw away this image of middle-age couples only capable of shuffling their feet on crowded floors. 😉

Finally, picture this. The backdrop of a crowded floor at Salon Canning with Color Tango playing in the background – many dangerous tourists as a matter of fact. An elderly couple – probably well into their 70s and perhaps 80s – danced in very old-fashioned way (forward/backward perpendicular to the line of dance but advancing sideways in the direction to the line of dance) for a crowded dance floor. She was less nimble than him, but it did not matter. They dance at a snail’s pace but carried out with much love and care: he waited for her at every single step. I think this is what dancing Tango means for them and hopefully for me from now on. To enjoy and dance in a way that the body and mind can be freed.

ps. After initially drafting these thoughts, I came across the following sentiments by Elizabeth wrote here: Recuerdos. I highly recommend it for anyone contemplating a trip to Buenos Aires!

Read more from BsAs 09, Musings
  1. Jan 22 2010

    Thank you for this post. I’ve yet to make the trip to BA, but I’m hoping for later this year. I’d like to take lessons there of course, like everyone else. But mostly I want to dance at the milongas. I want to be surround by the living, breathing tango at its source.

  2. Jan 23 2010

    Why thank you!

  3. Jan 23 2010

    Dear Elizabeth,

    You are most welcome and THANK YOU for sharing your feelings!

  4. Jan 23 2010

    Hi Mari,

    Wish you a happy and fruitful trip!

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