Tango too..Tango not

Discussion among tangueros are often long, contorted, sometimes vicious and, eventually, they never get to a firm point, the definite defining definition of what tango is and, more importantly, what definitely doesn’t qualify as tango.

Argentine Tango, that is.

I actually am quite happy that the discussions are never ending since I don’t really think any form of art, entertainment or else can survive the oppression of a strict definition, however I believe some kinds of “do not” are in order to preserve the best in everything.

Let me explain…

If I, say, were an awful painter who doesn’t have a clue what’s doing or doesn’t have the talent to express something profound in my works and, say, one of you out there was a wonderful painter, really talented and good, won’t it be a sort of theft to call myself (the awful painter) a contemporary artist, trying to exploit people’s ignorance in the subject, while you (the talented artist) , who would probably deserve the title of “contemporary painter”, would be associated alongside me, thus diminishing the value of the whole category?

The story gets dirtier than that, though…because while some artistic fields possess a worldwide recognition and a solid background of information (or at least a consistent number of possible sources of information) like painting, sculpture, movies, theater and so on, some other does not, like tango.

Many unscrupulous people try everyday to gain something, may it be money or prestige or power, taking advantage of people’s ignorance in a certain subject, I call this piece of dishonesty theft. Theft of the money, time or else of people and theft of others’, more knowledgeable people, work.

Without going for the dramatic effect let’s tone down the discussion to simple things and concepts.

In my city, Genoa, the Tango scene is somewhat unhealthy because of said unscrupulous people. It wouldn’t be so uncommon, in certain milongas to count more ‘teachers’ than pupils among the participants. Many of these self-proclaimed teachers not only are nowhere near an acceptable level of dancing and, more importantly, experience to be competent teachers, but they are neither humble nor fair in their relations with the other teachers of the area.

Thankfully there are a number of teachers and, in general, dancers, who don’t do this and who, like me, try to give all possible information to everybody who would listen.

The most common thing, in Genoa, where (I care to repeat) the tango-dancing ‘population’ consists of no more than 300 people, is to criticise other teachers’ style, milonga, classes, attitude, personality and so on, discouraging pupils to attend other milongas and, therefore, preventing a healthy and profitable experience-exchange and, more simply still, thwarting the process of integration between new and old, good and less good dancers.

I find this practice profoundly disgusting.

When I began taking tango lesson I, just like the majority of the tango dancers in Genoa, went to the biggest and most popular of the schools. I soon discovered that the publicity and the big attendance of the classes were not all deserved so, me being me and since the burning obsession already had caught me, I searched for other things and, thankfully, found them quick and easy, This ‘path’ is nowhere uniquely my own, many did just the same, changed their less able, but more known teachers of the beginning and went for a better thing. I suppose this happens everyday in tango, just as it happens in other fields.

The problem is that, actually, it is quite difficult to find out about other tango reality in Genoa if you have the misfortune to be the pupils of one of said teachers, the one who will speak ill of everybody else. Yes, because the funny thing is that they won’t tell you that there are other milongas, etc…but ONCE you discovered them they will speak ill of them.

Funny how things go, isn’t it?

Me being me I tried to speak with every person in the milonga, once I overcame my natural ‘first-word block’, so I often ‘accidentaly’ (well, for the first months I really was innocent!) spilled the beans about other teachers (immediately with their phone numbers and e-mail addresses 🙂 ) and milongas to the unaware dancers. The reason why I found it natural was firstly because I think people always deserve the most complete ‘info sevice’ in existence, even if they aren’t desperately searching for it and, secondly, because this has always been the attitude of the first real tango teacher I’ve ever had.

Then, exactly 337 days ago, I made up my channel on youtube and compulsively began to watch tango videos, sometimes adding my 2 cents to the discussion or complementing or criticizing, all of this in the most gracious and polite way I could.

Then something happened, actually a person and a discussion happened.

This discussion and the related ones brought me on the verge of hysteria, because I really couldn’t understand why someone should be so gratuitously rude and helplessly arrogant and it angered me to have solid proof that, for some kind of people, Internet is just a place where to vent their anger and frustration to anybody they might hope to annoy, everything with the protection of a nickname and an information-free profile.

I’ve been waiting a long time to bring this out, because we were debating (me, myself and I), if it was right to do it and, eventually, how to do it in the less hurtful way.

I found that I couldn’t take it anymore when, in another discussion on youtube, one of my comments was marked as spam, here it goes:

PensaloBien (4 weeks ago)
The moves are good, but this is not a good example of AT, just good dancing..There’s a World Championship of Argentinean Tango, both salon style and tango fantasia (tango show) and these two you love so much really are nothing compared to those couples competing in Buenos Aires. Check campeonato metropolitano de tango here on youtube.

So, this comment may be harsh (and if you take your time reading the discussion you’ll understand why..well..skip the ‘I adore them!’ and ‘what a great ass!’ comments 😐 ), but anyhow, everybody who thinks that this qualify as spam, raise your hand.

La Bruja_dangerous fury mode: on (and raising)


~ by PensaloBien on January 8, 2008.

5 Responses to “Tango too..Tango not”

  1. […] https://pensalobien.wordpress.com/2008/01/08/tango-tootango-not/ […]

  2. “Tango tag!” If you feel like playing, see http://tangohouston.wordpress.com/2008/01/09/tango-tagged/

  3. Definitely not spam.

    I guess the person who marked it as spam wanted to disagree with you but was unable to think up a reasoned argument against your comment (I agree with your comment by the way). Judging from their response, they’re probably not someone you’d want to interact with anyway, so don’t let their response worry you.

    You’re much better off enjoying yourself dancing tango than subjecting yourself to this sort of behaviour on Youtube anyway.


  4. Thanks 🙂
    I think I should do as you suggested, I need to fight this urge of mine to try and reason with people who clearly doesn’t want to be ‘reasoned with’..

    La Bruja

  5. La Bruja querida,

    I had a couple of thoughts reading your post.

    What goes wrong in tango communities is not necessarily that teachers are not at an “acceptable level of dancing.”

    On the contrary, I think I agree with this tango school’s policy of hiring beginners to teach tango [http://www.the8thstyle.com/2007/06/beginning-teacher-policy.html].

    The problem may not necessarily be that a bunch of bad tango teachers rule the roost in Genoa, or in any tango community with conflict, but that there is not enough good leadership.

    What is good leadership? Good leadership is leadership with a tolerant, positive, productive and brave attitude toward the dance and toward others and their styles of dance. That’s perhaps a limited definition of what good leadership is. But unfortunately, it sounds like Genoa has bad leadership.

    That’s where people like you can make a difference! Remember, good leadership is brave, in addition to being tolerant, positive and productive.

    Never let other people ruin tango for you. Remember, tango is what you do for fun!

    And it’s what your antagonists do for fun, too. When others begin refusing to listen to their negativity, they might start having fun again, too.

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