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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Talk & tango? I just can’t do it!

Have you ever started dancing with someone who wanted to have a chat while accompanying you around the pista? What was the outcome? How was the tango?

Many of us can multi-task quite successfully. But this combination does not work for me at all, and I suspect that I’m not alone. Today, while listening to my ipod, mercifully distracted from a dental procedure, I pondered why this might be so.

Music generates emotional & physical responses. Its influence can be energetic, calming, soporific, romantic, melancholic, joyful, etc. Understanding the lyrics isn’t a pre-requisite, at all, although it enhances the experience. Our brains are hard-wired to get the musical message (Daniel Levitin). Dancing is a physical expression of that. So whether or not we’re aware of it, my partner and I, together, are physically responding to the emotions evoked when a piece of music calls us to the floor. I like to make the most of the tanda with my partner, and if we’re lucky, we may experience that addictive tango-zone.

While dancing, chatting about a recent good film or a mutual friend, will simply interfere with that strong, but fleeting connection. It reminds me of those annoying TV commercials which pop up inappropriately at critical moments during a movie. No chance there of being transported by the dance!

Then there’s the complexity of much tango music, with so many delicious improvisational possibilities. Choreographed patterns of dance learned by rote can allow for talk. After all, the body already knows what it’s going to do. But to improvise, in other words to dance “in the moment”, your attention needs to be dedicated to the music and your partner. The concept of entrega is about abandoning yourself to your partner and the music … just for that tanda, of course. Little wonder that milongueros don’t get up to dance to just any music. They’re choosy about their music and partners. When they dance, they put ‘all the meat on the fire’ todo la carne en la parilla.

So what do you do if your partner wants to tango and talk?
  1. Go with the flow and chat for the remainder of the tanda
  2. Say “Thank-you” and return to your table
  3. Ignore the talk. If you don’t respond, it may stop eventually.
  4. Simply admit: “I’m not able to dance tango and talk at the same time”. Hopefully the message will be clear.
  5. Never dance with that person again
What do you think?

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