Saturday, 16 June 2012

Imagine if ...

While chatting with Pedro Sanchez, he made the strong statement that it is the women who set the standards at the milonga. In other words, the women determine the behaviours which they are prepared to tolerate from the men who want to dance with them. Take a moment to think about that and the implications.
How would milongas change if the more experienced female dancers were not prepared to accept invitations from those men who are guilty of one or more of the following …
·         blatantly interrupting conversations to invite them to dance
·         pushing and pulling them around the dance-floor
·         often causing collisions
·         ignoring their personal hygiene
·         attending the milonga in the same clothes they would wear to a barbecue?
Imagine a milonga where all the men ….
·         use the cabeceo, allowing women some real choice
·         communicate the lead subtly with their bodies
·         protect their partner and respect other dancers on the floor
·         make an effort with their personal hygiene
·         dress for a special occasion - the milonga.
Is this just a fantasy? Is it achievable? When all is said and done, I believe that it comes down to self-respect and personal standards.
PP

8 comments:

Unknown said...

I believe that if experienced, or not so much, female dancers were not to accept invitations from those men you signed, men would be forced to respect the codes. But, unfortunately, most women prefer to dance with anybody to be sitting waiting a miracle.
Regards, Andy

Tango Salon Adelaide said...

It is a mystery, Andy.

Many women spend a large amount of time and money improving their tango skills taking lots of classes and private lessons, too. They present themselves nicely at the milonga: elegant, expensive clothes, carefully coiffed and made up, wearing the latest in tango shoes, etc. Yet they choose to dance with men who treat them like a sack of potatoes (OK, I exaggerate a little). Some of them might complain that many men don't try to improve their skills, but they seem to just put up with this.

Sadly these ladies don't seem to make the connection that they are part of the problem.

Understandably, these ladies don't want to sit at a milonga. They are impatient to dance - with almost anyone! But what incentive do the aforementioned men have to lift their game when women will dance with them?

Ladies, do yourselves a favour. In fact, do us all a favour - set some standards and stick to them! PP

Eduardo said...

Supply and demand determine commodity prices.

In plain language, not all, but the majority of men I have met in any culture prefer any sport to any dancing, whereas women love dancing, they were born to dance. I don't know how the balance of gender for tango dancing is in BAires, but I bet there are more guys watching the match Boca-River on a Saturday night, than interested in the Swan Lake Suite on TV. The number of girls dancing being higher than boys, there is very little competition. It does not force a high standard for the guys. And the 'scruffy' aspect associated with men, again, for any culture- seems to be inherent to the gender, but lack of competition seems to encourage it. I attended a few milongas here and in Baires. Every woman was a Queen, immaculate dressed,the hair perfect, with high heels which are the pedestal to show off their legs, incredibly elegant, smelled beautifully. I enjoy very much watching them. Mind you, guys in Baires also had a good standard,more respectful to their partners than here in Adelaide, which seems pretty casual.

Anonymous said...

When I first began tango in Adelaide I felt there was a pressure to say yes to any man who asked me to dance. At some point I realised I had a right to say NO to a man if I did not not want to dance with him. It is not up to me to protect a man from feeling the edge of his ego fragility (or to help him improve his dancing if I dont enjoy something about dancing with him).
I think a lot of women say yes to men when they really want to say no. It is our conditioning and extends way beyond just tango dancing. I am very happy to hear this topic being spoken about. Thankyou Pat. I think it would be great if women in Adelaide were encouraged to trust themselves to accept dances only with men they want to dance with. I think that rather than this approach hurting mens feelings, it will more likely promote deeper authenticity of connection in the dancing and more men will experience the delights of a woman opening and responding to him because she wants to.

Anonymous said...

This is a reality, not a case of "imagine if" for some Adelaide women already, but it's not our behaviour alone, nor should it be our role, to shape or change male etiquette. THANKYOU to all those men who do make an effort to dress beautifully, take care of their personal hygiene, use the cabaceo, and gallantly guard their partners on the floor...we women appreciate this enormously, and it's your example to and discussion with other men, that may lead to cultural change.

Bob said...

I agree that there are men making an effort – hopefully their modelling will be seen by others, both men and women, as the standard of behaviour that is valued in the traditional milongas that we love.

The value of the cabeceo is apparent when we hear women say they’d prefer not to dance with men who behave or dance in a way they dislike. After all, what man wants to spend a tanda dancing with a woman who’d rather not be in his embrace – who is counting down the minutes?

But the same applies to women who ask men to dance. Maybe the music doesn’t appeal to him, he’s having a brief rest, wants to chat with a friend, or he simply doesn’t enjoy dancing with her. How would she feel if she knew he was just going through the motions?

Of course there are exceptions – for people in friendship groups it’s O.K. for Sally to say “I love this music, let’s dance Dave”, and it’s great to see an experienced woman get a beginner man onto the floor to boost his confidence. Otherwise, let the cabeceo do the talking.

So, my advice to men – do what is important in getting dances as a single foreigner in the best milongas in Buenos Aires: wear a jacket & look elegant, observe the codes – particularly the cabeceo, dance like they do – small, controlled, with good musicality, & alert to those around you, and of course, dance well.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is easy to give and receive the cabaceo in a small tango scene like in Adelaide, however, it's not so easy in the larger milonga's in Sydney/Melbourne (not to mention the larger overseas tango scenes).
Cabaceo is important, but it is not the be-all end-all when it comes to invite/receiving dances.

Tango Salon Adelaide said...

Thanks to all the commentators for your views on Imagine if.... By the way, in case my original comments caused any unintended offence to men in Adelaide's tango community, let me clarify that the criticisms were not universal. So, if the hat fits .....

By the way, I do agree with the latest anonymous comment about the cabeceo. It can very difficult to engage in this form of invitation under certain circumstances, for example, if the lighting at the milonga is poor. If dancers are simply not used to the cabeceo, don't look around and show no interest in dancing then it will fail miserably.

Many in the Adelaide tango community have become reasonably skilled at the cabeceo. Whereas experience in Melbourne and Sydney has shown that most people simply don't look around, regardless of the size of the venue. There, the direct approach seems to be the norm.

On the other hand, in large, busy milonga venues such as La Nacional and La Leonesa in Buenos Aires, the cabeceo works a treat, even diagonally across the hall! You just have to show you want to dance with someone through eye contact.

However, Anonymous is quite right. It is not the be-all or end-all of invitations. But would you prefer to be dancing with someone who really wants to dance with you? Or are you happy dancing with someone who is just going through the motions out of politeness?

PP

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