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Friday, 18 January 2008

What do women want? What do men want?

I've lost count of the number of times I have heard the following sentiment expressed by men learning to dance tango: "I feel I should dance lots of complex figures at the milonga so that my partner doesn't get bored".

But as a woman in tango, I wish to feel transported by the music and the intimate communication with my partner - whoever that might be at the time. Here's Milena Plebs' take on this topic in Tango íntimo. Just scroll down a little for the English translation.

Happy dancing,

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Chaperones and the milonga

I recently came across an interesting historical perspective (alas, only in Spanish) on the development of some strongly held milonga codes, and it all makes absolute sense. The fact that those codes still serve very useful, but somewhat different functions today has ensured their longevity in the world of tango.

Consider the era - maybe the 30s. A young (unmarried) woman wanted to go dancing. Nice girls could only do so in Buenos Aires when chaperoned by a trusted relative. This naturally implied that any interested, young man would certainly not be permitted to join her at her table. That would have compromised her reputation. So the invitation to dance was made by the clever game of eye contact, or the cabeceo. Today, of course, it remains an unbeatable strategy for selecting dance partners, while avoiding the embarrassment of public rejection.

Ever wondered why couples don't just start dancing as soon as the music begins, and instead spend chunks of valuable dance time chatting before taking up the embrace? I guess if a young man wanted to chat up a tasty, but chaperoned chica, those brief opportunities were all he had to make a lasting impression on her. Nowadays, the social function is still served, but the chat-time also provides the opportunity to feel the music, not to mention waiting for a space to clear in the line of dance.

Why on earth have a cortina, that snippet of non-dance music separating the tandas, when the dance-floor should be cleared? Well, just imagine the gossip resulting from dancing more than one tanda consecutively with the same partner, or a single woman not returning to her own table during the cortina. That señorita's reputation would have been somewhat tarnished, to say the least. In today's traditional milongas in BsAs, this would still signify an existing or budding relationship, but dancing with a range of people is a more social activity anyway, don't you think?

See you on the dance floor,

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