Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What my teenage son taught me about tango

My son, Ben, told me about my face when I dance.  He also commented about my partners' faces too.  He honed in on what women would say after a tanda or in between songs to me.  I was sometimes amazed at how well he heard from across the room. What I learned from him was that women are best advertising for male dancers -- or the worst.

Ladies can be beacons sending out beams of blissful looks, or their faces can be blinking red lights of "Warning! Danger! Torture!"  Or maybe their faces are less dramatic with, "I am am bored out of my mind."

Men are getting scared all the time on the dance floor.  So distressed looks might be part of our job.  At least, I know that I get distressed that the lady in front of me with naked legs might get hurt by the couple near us if I do not watch out for her.

Men also may have the overly pensive look from listening to the music, reading her level of ability or how tired she is.  We can have all sorts of faces, and I think that no one really cares much.

Women are different.  What they advertise says it all to other women.  And are the men looking at my face or her face?  If she looks like she is in a blissful trance then men will want to dance with her, rather than a woman who looks as if she is wasting her time with someone below her level.  This is what I call the female prerogative in money and in tango skill.  In both areas, statistically women pair with men who earn more money or dance with men who have more skill than she does.  Even is okay too.

My sons, Ben and Toby came to a milonga with me, as I said earlier.  They are both musicians and I wanted them to hear the orchestra.  I danced with a tanguera mexicana, who is one of my favorite tangueras.  Ben asked me if I thought that she liked dancing with me.  I said, "I know she does.  We talk about it, and she comes and seeks me out.  We have practiced together." Ben said, "She looked bored.   She looked bored with not just you, Dad," he assured me.  I knew that she often looked bored as she was dancing, but I imagined that she was smiling with me.  This is called delusions of grandeur.  Not quite, however.  I really did know that she was having fun.  I started watching her and she always looked bored.  Then, being the perfectly frank teen that he is, Ben told me that I looked like I was in pain.  "Well, that is the blues musician look that I developed long ago," I said.  "Also, if you understood the lyrics you might understand my look of despair."  But what great insights!  I thanked my teen son for his honesty.  I really did not want to convey pain in my face because I am having so much joy in my dance.  It turned out that my tanguera mexicana had heard from ladies about looking bored, and she said she really had to work on changing that!

Some have said that in tango it is okay to "fake it."  Hmmmmmmm.   I don't think ladies need to fake it.  I think that they might need to watch videos of themselves and then ask themselves if they really are being fair to the feelings they have.  There is way too many overly serious looks on the floor.  What happened to the adage:  "As in life, so in tango"?   Do we want to look so serious when we are in bliss with our friends and family?

Here is a picture of me dancing with a delightful person and fun tanguera before my son told about my look of pain.  I look like deeply saddened man during a moment that I still remember in Denver last summer.  It hurts to share it, but here it is below.  I am in the background with the face of pain.  The women on the side of the dance floor probably are wondering what she is doing to cause such pain and doom in my face.  Pretty funny, really, because I look pitiful but I am in bliss!

Okay, having said that I look in pain, let me assure you that I was not.  The below picture reveals the wonderful tanguera both in personality and ability with whom I am dancing.  Thank God she wasn't "advertising" what I was!

I am now trying to inform my face about my joy and happiness.  As a musician people said they liked to watch my facial expression, but this is tango.  Those music performance days are over.  I have no desire to play publicly anymore because tango so fills my need to express myself musically.   This is a new era for me.  It was once being on stage and performing for many.  Now it is a duet with the soul in front of me.  And IF someone is watching, I wish not to advertising the wrong thing for what I am feeling.  I also have an obligation to tell everyone what a wonderful dancer I have in my arms, no matter what her level.  Ethically, it is downright mean to have a tortured face behind her back (close embrace) or to her face if she is doing her best in open embrace.

When I can do that, I can only hope that the ladies I dance with will do it for me too.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Can You Know? (poem)

Can you know if you will hold me again,
Or will it stay a mystery?
Do you know if you will hold me again,
Or if it will be in our history?
Life gives us what we most need
And then takes it back again.
That is not cruel but just how life leads.

I know I have promised you,
That I will hold you again,
But can I know if you will hold me too?
Will your heart escort your arms?
These things I cannot know.
That is not cruel but just how life leads.

For now we have two songs to go.
This tanda may be our last on earth,

So hold me as if I were the only man left,
I will hold you as if you were my last love.
That's the wisdom and wonder of our dance--
We embrace life by embracing each other.

That's is just life and how our script reads.
That is not cruel, but just how life leads.

M Thomas Word

Note:  This is in fact a tango poem.  The music I wrote to this is paradoxically a bossa nova.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The End of Leading is Near

No, not "the end of the world is near" but for tango -- "the end of leading and following is near." 

I predict (and pray for) the end of leading and following in tango!  This model is so unfortunate -- a misguided analogy.  It worked for centuries.  A new paradigm is needed to describe gender roles in tango.

Tango teaches us some great lessons about the nature of roles, and we are mostly missing its wisdom.  "Lead/follow" was how a culture and an era of machismo described what tango was.  Machismo is not evil.  But it is a limited way of expressing role differences.  I do believe that tango has so very beautiful expressions of machismo -- its more enlightened side, but that is a different topic (what it means to be a gentle-man).  

Count Basie and Tango
It occurred to me to use an anti-lead/follow analogy with a woman who was so far behind the beat that it was unnerving.  She was "rusty," she said.  She hadn't been dancing for a year, but I sensed that her delay was that she wanted me to interpret the music for her and not hear it for herself.  Something that Count Basie said came to mind.  His principle for good music was that it is not what you play, it is what you don't play that makes the music good.  So, assuming that Count Basie was right, I suggested that the woman is the "rest" or pause (that which is NOT played) between the man's "note" or impulse.  I also suggested that the music was the true leader.  The most magical thing happened.  She danced about five levels higher after that.  Since sharing this with other women, I have noticed a huge change in our creativity level.  Free at last for both have a say in the creativity of dance.  

The True Leader is Amazing
If there is no leader we have a problem.  I agree fully.  What in the world are we doing out on that floor?  Why are we moving?  Who starts the dance?  The leader!  The reason people start moving is because the leader is speaking to them to do so.  And, of course, Music is that leader!  The true leader.  It leads us not into temptation, but delivers us from the evils of tortured dancing.  Translated literally from Spanish (la música), we should say, "She leads us."  Movement is up to the couple, but She has attempted to lead us.  One person plays the "note," the other allows the pause between the notes (not pulling into the next movement but allows it).

With these two philosophical agreements with a partner (that the music is the true leader, and that the woman is the creative pause between notes), I find that dancing feels "enlightened." I see women making a huge paradigm shift in the way they dance.  I no longer have have to translate la Música's lead, but we co-create what She has led.  Women who are even beginners "lead" me to new discoveries.

Other Analogies for Role Behavior in Tango
The biological model of man and woman indicate that the man gives impulse and in the woman's womb something new is created.  Lead/follow and talk/listen and me-Tarzan-you-Jane models do not describe the biological model of creation between a man and a woman -- nor the beauty of tango.  Other analogies may also help get us closer (but they are only analogies): Yin and Yang / magnetic poles / note and rest / director and producer.  These analogies maintain role separations as being absolutely necessary while not diminishing one or the other.

Sociology of Roles
I just met a woman sociologist and she teaches her students to break away from role limitations.  Are roles automatically limiting and bad?  Tango, she said, dampens her spirit, but paradoxically she likes it.  I agree with her struggle with how her teachers mostly have presented tango as "man-do-talking/woman-do-listening." Tango has a lesson for her (and all of us): That making the sexes all the same and having equal roles is going to the other extreme by eliminating roles altogether.  Role switching is perfect for somethings.  For example, good conversations are trade-offs on lead/follow and talk/listen.  So roles can switch, but conversation as an analogy for tango is problematic.  Lesbian/gay couples are ahead of the rest of us for switching roles, but for the rest of us, extreme listen/talk roles or role switching is not the result we are seeking.  So the question is why in the heck are we using this analogy at all to describe tango?

The Great Feeling of a Woman "Leading"
With a woman who attends to her very active role of creating the next moment after an inpulse, I want to say to her, "Because of you I was taken to the next level."  Such women bring me ("lead me") to a level of joy that is nothing short of magical.  Often after I have said this (and it happens all the time), my partner self-deprecates herself by saying: "I just followed what you led."  No, sorry.  I was the note and you, mi tanguera maravillosa, were the rest, the creative pause.  Without you "we" would not have happened.  The music-of-movement was "us" not what a mere mortal led.  

Counting on the Count*
Mr Basie was right.  The most wonderful music is created by the rests not by the notes alone.  Ladies -- you inspire me.  It feels like you have led me somewhere I have never gone!  You must feel the same thing because you often tell me, "you led that so well."  I am sure now.  I experience this at every milonga:  La Música leads us both.  We listen to Her.  I give an impulse, I am the note, and you allow a wonderful pause.  I move into the next impulse because you create that moment.  I do something I had never done before.  It may feel as if you led it or you may feel I led it, but really, I was the note and you were the pause; I was what was played and you were what was not played.  Honey, we make beautiful música together.

*Regarding Count Basie.  I suggest a book by Dizzie Gillespie:  To Be or Not . . . to Bop.  A whole new brand of Jazz musicians came out of what Count Basie was doing -- playing less and pausing more.

Next post:
What women "leaders" teach men about being a man.  This will be provocative.  More on the sociology of roles and what it means to be a man, and why "leader" women have difficulty protecting their partner.  Yes, provocative.  Sharpen your pitchforks!  The End of Leading is Near (part II).

Embrace the Moment (poem)

My heart pours over with desire
For the moment I see your walk,
Your form at a distance.
"Vibraciones del Alma" 
Plays in my heart.

I see us now embracing.
The smell of your skin
Knocks at my memory
Of a thousand moments before,
But I hold them back to have
This one moment
As if it were the first.
I hold back my tears of joy.

But now I can only wait.
I count the moments that remain.
Before I hold you and wish
I could hold the moment as well.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pre-Embarassed Phase of Blissful Ignorance*

Men, try to get to the place where you know that you suck at tango.

I wish I could say that (a) I didn't have black and white shoes that I occasionally wear, and (b) I have gotten beyond the pre-embarrassed phase.

But in spite of conversations like the above video clip, I somehow have manage to maintain my bliss.  Some people never evolve into kindness, and so the best defense mechanism is to be blissfully ignorant.   For this reason, I have taken up residence in "the pre-embarrassed stage of blissful ignorance."   

I like it here.  It's warm and cozy, kind of like snuggling with a kind and tender-hearted tanguera.

*The real title of this blog is not about "blissful ignorance" but kindness and evolving.  It takes work for me and -- I would venture -- most people.  Some seem to have been born with the talent of kindness.  They dance all night and if they have balance and boundaries to their kindness, then they are dancing with other kind people (or at least good dancers?).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A woman and her Shoes: Bad News. Really.

Men are dolts.  I keep hearing lately how stupid we are via tango blog chatter.  The newest thing I hear -- in jest -- is that men see only if shoes are dark or light.  Shall I tell ladies the truth?  That we are not dolts?  That we DO see shoes in more than two shades?  That we can wear nice clothes.  That we do take a shower?  That we like dancing with women who are first kind and second good dancers, first kind and then beautiful?  Now the secret is out.

Not that all women think men are dolts.  The ones who beam and love life -- the women and men around them; the women who don't rely on anyone for their emotional wellness, they are dancing and having fun.  They are not bitter about men.  Those women, I believe, are who are bitter are those who have been misguided by thinking that they must follow, men must lead; misguided that men talk and women must listen; misguided that women should be seen (be beautiful) but not be heard (participate actively in the dance); misguided that women must sit and wait and the man must choose (OMG is that naive, or what?)  They are bitter beings, and have few good things to say about men.

All of this is caused by the misguided world-view of way too many tango teachers who have chosen the machismo of Argentina to explain the phenomenon of the beauty of tango.  Oh, I am sorry, machismo is not an issue in Argentina or Latin America?  Not everything from any culture is all good, and even machismo is not all bad, but the question here is does the macho-world view of Argentina describe the interaction between a man and a woman who are dancing tango.  Short answer:  "No!"

But this post is not about my usual rant about Me-Tarzan-You-Jane tango philosophy.  It is about men being belittled -- even in a joking way.  And it is about the truth about men not being dolts.
Humor reveals interesting hidden feelings, like the video clip:  "Men don't even notice your shoes.  They see that she has on either light or dark shoes and that is all."  Funny -- but women will add, "...but oh so true."  

If women who buy too many shoes only knew how important their shoes are, then they would only buy more shoes.  That is why any man who is a gentleman will not say anything about how important her shoes are.  I don't advocate buying a bunch of shoes, but let me say, shoes make a big difference.

Okay, guys -- especially with shoe-craving wives, please forgive me for revealing the truth about us men not being so stupid.  I really should say nothing.  Cosmopolitan Magazine will get a hold of it, and women's obsession for pretty shoes will only go up.  The overloaded increase in demand for shoes may cause violence in shoe stores as the lines get longer and longer and the buyers more desperate.

But the truth must come out.  Men DO notice shoes.  I can even tell without looking if a woman is using salsa shoes or tango shoes.  I avoid looking into anyone's eyes watching on the dance floor periphery as I dance.  I look slightly down.  I see a pair a shoes.  I say, "I want to dance with the woman in those shoes."  And later I look at her eyes and nod (actually look down at her shoes) and then we dance.  Some people call this nod a "cabezeo."  It is actually the wobble of a man's head as it goes from eyes to shoes.

Then when I see that she is taller than last time from her stilettos, I restrain from saying in a low, soft, sexy voice in her ear, "Querida, size does matter."  At the end of the night, I insist on helping her get out of her shoes.  Her husband's eyebrows go up, but she lets me. He wants to kill me, but not because of my hands on her feet but because NOW she knows, and their budget for buying a house has been trashed.

I told you; this is not going to make things better.  I am taking down my sign outside my door that says "Cabellero."  I just realized something.  I am a dolt after all.  This was all bad news.  Really.

If you want good news.  Here is something for you:  http://melinas-two-cent.blogspot.com/2010/11/good-news-really.html  
Please note how the good news continues in the comments to this blog -- how nearly every woman agrees with the good news that men are truly less then the better half of the world.  Shoe sales will stay stable.  That is the good news.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"There is no such thing as a Tango Waltz"

Tango Waltz = vals cruzado or vals criollo.  This is the Spanish term for the most beautiful expression of 3/4 time in the world in my not humble and limited opinion.   [Note that I italicize foreign terms in my blog.]

I was duly corrected by a "person who knows all things tango."  And he was right.  I learned something.  The proper name is vals criollo or vals cruzado – in Spanish, that is. Having a blog and being corrected by brash anonymous writers is a great way to learn new terms and the depths of my ignorance.

But I also have a lot of feelings behind people who mean well but confuse others while using jargon.  Vals Criollo or Vals Cruzado, is a perfect example.    My ignorance was only of a Spanish term.  But “Tango Waltz” is a perfectly good translation.

Let me explain:  I was living in Mexico and the church I was going to was bilingual.  They had a bilingual service although everyone there could speak Spanish.  The little church refused to have a service in just Spanish because the founder and philosopher behind the religion spoke English.  I argued the case as the ONLY native speaker of English in the church that it was nonsense to have a bilingual service when the church was filled with mostly monolingual Spanish speakers, who just sat there listening to WORDS THAT CONVEYED NO MEANING.  Monolingual members of the church came to me secretly and said, "Only you could have argued the case. Thanks."

Then I lived in Boston and started a Spanish speaking church service.  I gave out Spanish Bibles.  Now I was being criticized by my church that the prisoners should learn English, and that the writings of the Founder of the religion's writings really only could be understood in English.  Those behind bars were often young "burros" taking cocaine into the country, thinking they were carrying a load of things for Aunt Anita in Boston, MA.  They were young, naive, monolingual and in jail.  Learn English?  Are you on coke?

This church was very critical of the Roman Catholic Church because of many things, but one was how the Church made Latin a holy language, although the original texts were in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic.  Now my church was doing the same thing with English.  Agape was really hard with these nut cases. J

2010 November.  I am sitting in a briefing for newcomers at Walter Reed Army Hospital, and I am stopping a briefer who is throwing out acronyms left and right.  "I don't know what MDT means," I say.  I stop him over and over, mostly because I DO understand but know that the newcomers mostly do not know what a 2487 is or that ASAP is not what they think but “Army Substance Abuse Program.”   In several cases he didn't know either what an acronym meant.  Poor guy.  Well, why was he using terms that he didn't even know?  And with new people?  He had what I call, the command of words without meaning.  Sound like some tango classes?

Today I got an email from a tanguera (woman dancer) living in Australia.  She was told to learn Spanish.  Yes, I would agree that if you really love tango and want to go to Mecca (Buenos Aires) that you should learn Spanish for practical reasons.  Knowing terms in Spanish is good because there is a certain tango jargon world-wide.  However, she could go her whole life without knowing the term "vals criollo" without being the lesser for it because a damn good English term is:  Tango Waltz (borrowed from Spanish and German, “Waltzer”).

But isn't it fair for us to pay attention to names?  “Tango criollo” is not a name of a person or deity but a musical term.  Do you know what the English translation of “mambo” is?  Sure you do.  The English translation was made up in New York City.  The word is “salsa.”   Salsa is not Spanish, which means “sauce” or “dressing” and tomatoes may not be even inside it.  It means “hot, chunky tomato ketchup” to most Americans.  Or “that music that is tastey, hot and Latin.”   And what about tomato “ketchup”?  From whom did we steal this word?  China.  Ketchup is also not a foreign word any longer.  Don’t hold your breath on “vals criollo” going the way of salsa and ketchup, okay?  It just isn’t going to happen.  Tango waltz means something to us like salsa and ketchup do.  These terms convey meaning. 

So following the above logic, denying a term like "tango waltz" even exists or is "wrong" feels to me like the holy language stuff I have already rejected in Mexico and Boston.  Will we need, like the Priesthood of Tango like the Catholic Church had -- a group of people who can use and understand the original language of tango?  And will those who have a command of words without meaning, just as the Church have special people with pointed hats and distinctive collars?  And how long will we play that game until someone allows a translation that the normal person can understand?  Or are we like the Armed Forces, talking jargon to each other and the newcomer's perspective is not even taken in consideration?  It feels that way to me, but as I have already confessed:  I have unresolved baggage.  I am still fighting a fight with the church.  And the US Army nearly daily annoys me with WORDS without MEANING.  “This tango waltz stuff,” I tell myself...  “Cálmate Marcos, los tangueros son amigos. Remember all the friends you love in this wonderful community of people who hug.  Mellow out, hombre.

So let me suggest something of a solution.  English is actually good at certain things and bad at others.  "Tango Waltz" is a delightfully better term even on the streets of Madrid.  Vals cruzado or "criollo" will even in Barcelona or Cali or Lima or Guadalajara have no or little meaning compared to "vals de tango."   In English we have the term "jazz waltz."  Isn't that a great term -- jazz with the feel of a waltz? 

We also have the wonderful term in English:  "Tango waltz" -- tango with the feel of a waltz.  Too bad Spanish doesn't have such a great term for what tangueros do at their dance parties (milongas).  Vals cruzado” sounds like what a dancing priest might do as he waltzes away from the alter while crossing himself.  And “vals criollo”?  Sounds like something I could order on a Cajun menu.

"Tango Waltz" conveys meaning even to people who know very little about what happens at a tango dance party.

Are there any Spanish words that are clearly better than English?  Sure.  I like "cabeceo,” from the word “cabeza,” meaning “head.”  English needs twelve words:  “A nod that one shows someone with whom you wish to dance.”  I vote for Spanish on that one.  What about “milonga.”  Now that is a problem.  It is a dance and it is a party and in certain parts of Mexico a “milonga” is a mixed drink. So the question remains:  When does the original name obscure meaning in a new culture or even a culture outside the boarders of Argentina? 
So you may never understand the depths the intricacies of the proper Spanish terms of tango.  But if you dance with all your heart and soul, then you have arrived at the archetypal tango party.  There you will find people who think it is natural to hug each other and walk around to tango music while hugging.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Marvelous Moments

I cannot tell you how I knew that something marvelous was going to happen at the milonga, but I did.  I told a friend about this too.  I will share those wonderful moments, but the larger blessing for me was to be reminded of how important it is to cherish the magical moments in our lives as they are happening.

How many wonderful moments go by in our lives, and at the time we don't even recognize how magical they really are?  Sure, at the moment we are having fun and we know that, but it is often too easy to not even take the time to count this as a blessing -- an entry in the book of euphoric moments in our lives.

If tango were a machine it would be best described as a euphoric moment machine.  I was reminded of what tango does best last night.

I danced with a long-term dancer but she was a beginner-to-tango.  I will call her Vanessa.  In her first faltering steps with me, she apologized and said she was going to make many mistakes because she was new.  I told her she wouldn't make any because "we were just dancing and there are no mistakes at a milonga, only two people holding each other and moving to music."   I assured her that at prácticas and classes there are mistakes, but at a milonga there are none.  Although I try to say nothing at a milonga, at one point on our second tanda I told her to listen to the music because the music and not the man leads.  (I could tell that she was waiting for me to interpret the music, not listening to the music.)  She made yet another huge leap in her dancing. 

It was amazing to she her progress at light speed.  But what dumbfounded me was that she mentioned that it was one of the most marvelous moments in her life.  That is the power of tango.  We tangueros/tangueras keep piling up these magical moments.  We shouldn't ever just take them for granted.  

Because of my experience with the "beginner," I was really focusing on dancing the woman's feet during my next tanda with a familiar partner.  I was in a trance, but dancing differently because of what I had just experienced with Vanessa, and the sharing we had of a fully acknowledged euphoric moment.  So more than usual, I was dancing my new partner's feet and not just mine.  The song came to an end, and I was surprised where we were in the room.  Also, I had no idea if it were the first or forth song of the tanda.   I had lost orientation to time and space (however, I did know my name still!).  The dance itself was very good, but it wasn't the dance so much as the ZONE I had never really experienced.  I was in her body, taking her steps.  Another euphoric moment to add to the list.

When I danced the last dance with a regular partner, I had been transformed by these experiences.  Had I experienced "the kingdom of heaven within you" or "enlightenment" or "Nirvana"?

Yes, all three.  I realize how precious life is, and how easy it is to list our hurts, disappointments, traumas.  But can we, do we count our blessings, our moments of heaven-on-earth, moments of enlightenment or Nirvana?

When I danced the last song, the Cumparsita, I was dancing at a different plane, and connecting with my partner in a way that was almost frightening because I wasn't prepared for these emotions, nor even now I do not know how to describe them -- except .... that I was and still am counting my blessings.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

An Open Letter to a Tango Teacher

This "open letter" happens to be just to me--my future self--in case I get the probably ill-informed idea that I should teach tango:

Dear Future Self:

Please remember these seven things, if you think you are now ready to teach, especially #7 --

1. Diversity is Good: Respect the spectrum of tango (milonguero, salón, nuevo). You don't have to do what theologians have done and start wars and kill each over our differences.

2. Help the Gene pool: Have your students go to different milongas from different teachers.

3. Take care of your own soul: Dance 100% with the person you are dancing outside of a lesson. You have danced with teachers who examined you but were not truly present -- like someone listening to a Bach Cantata at a concert next to you, but not there with you. Hold that woman. Make her feel as if she is the only woman in the world.

4. Practice the Art of Dancing for Yourself: Dance with people outside your "stable." It is amazing how limited teachers become and are unable to read anything they do not intellectually/experientially know. You can dance all night with all levels of dancers, and then a teacher cannot follow the same thing you have done with everyone else -- a true sign that they have been dancing within in their own studio or the same partner too much.

5. Teach No-Blame Tango: Talented teachers help dancers from seeking blame when things go wrong. Don't be like some teachers who blame the leader, then come demonstrate to show how it is done, and then they cannot lead the move either. (Never an apology to blamed leader follows.) Teach no-blame tango.

6. Teach the "ST" Synonyms: Social Tango & Safe Tango: Floorcraft is the science of many couples dancing together. Social dancing is impossible with a high risk for injury. Learning to have fun in a small space is a good marketing tool, but the social aspect of safety needs not be hidden. Floorcraft is the one of main subjects in every class on social tango, right?

7. The Real Subject is NOT Tango: This could have been #1, but I saved it for last as it is the most important. The real subject is not tango. What you are teaching mostly is how a person can enjoy themselves, love themselves, reach out to others and feel the tender touch of another person. An ocho cortado is only a way to get to this real goal. The greatest teachers in history have inspired the student to thirst knowledge not to HAVE knowledge. If your students feel depressed and you make them feel as if they know so little after your class, please consider just going back to dancing and not teaching. Two towns that I know of that have an inordinate amount of judgmental tangueras, and in both cases this phenomenon is the teacher's misunderstanding of the Real Subject.

In a few words: Teaching is a calling. So, Future Self, tango communities need teachers who are advocates for the love of primarily dancing--not watching tango.  Social dancing includes the succor of a vibrant, local tango community. Be a good teacher with the goal of making great tangueros/tangueras. When in doubt . . . just dance.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Tango Teachers-Only Forum Part 2 : Why I am not a Teacher

Last night, an out-of-town tanguera asked me if I were a teacher.

As usual, I said, "No, I am a dancer."

I am NOT a teacher.  I am only 4 years old as a tanguero, and I have too much to learn.  If I found myself in a small town, I would teach and be a DJ, but for now I have NO desire to teach with so many qualified (and unqualified) teachers around!   Only from such a tango-deprived circumstance (living where there was no tango) could I become a member of the AUTTA (Association of Unqualified Tango Teachers of America). 

I was added to the Tango Teachers-Only Forum on Facebook by mistake.  Or perhaps it is the mutation of the same "evil little voice" that I hear at nearly every milonga I go to and dance with a stranger:  "Are you a teacher?"  Luckily from my training in psychology, I know the two types of auditory psychoses:  Non-command and command.  "Go and kill someone" is a command hallucination.  "Are you a teacher?" is not a command.  I don't HAVE TO become a teacher, you see?  

Going by the long list of members of AUTTA, this harmless non-command "little evil voice" can convert into a dangerous psychotic event only when the person sees it as a command to become a teacher.  The answer at a milonga should be: "No, I am a dancer and I am only dancing with you at this moment!"  IF I WERE a teacher, after the tanda, I might add:  "And here is my card. NOW I am a teacher."  I want to never stop being a dancer just because I might be teaching some day.  I don't want to judge and analyse my partner or cause them performance anxiety.  I want my partner to melt in my embrace and feel the power of this remarkable walking embrace.

I am learning from teachers about the problems of teaching.  Why did they start?  Do they really still love to dance or has it become merely a business?  I am certain that nearly all teachers started teaching because people asked, "Are you a teacher?"  This is like people who do not know much, cheer leading me into being something they do not understand.  Imagine being inspired to become a mathematician by people who cannot add well.   So for now, I just want to dance, and I don't listen to those little voices:  "Become a teacher."  I am waiting for the divine call -- la Vocación de Diós.  

By the way, here is my card:

Mark Word
Dancing with one Soul at a Time
Housecalls for emergency cases only!