Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tactical versus Strategic Tango

Milonga de los Santos, Washington, District of Columbia

Tango is war.

It was a battle just to come to the milonga, to even get out the door.  It was trench warfare to learn how to dance well.  It was hand to hand combat to learn how to avoid rejection or to attract good dancers at your level.  You have the purple heart from the shrapnel from stilettos ripping into your flesh from the friendly-fire boleo of a friend who did not see you.  Or you may have trusted a leader who turned out to be a suicide bomber, who used you as a weapon of mass destruction.

The truth is that life is a war, and no one survives.  But we can be honorable warriors, loyal to our family and values, courageous in our community, fighting social injustice.  In everything we do we can be warriors rather than fighters.  And tango is no different.  I am working at this.

Let me explain the difference between a fighter and a warrior:

A fighter has no stragegy of his or her own.  However, a warrior embodies both a strategy and tactical skill.  Both are important.  Learning to be a warrior allows you to survive and thrive in tango for a lifetime rather than the very low average in the US.  I would wager that few tangueros/tangueras make it past five years who do not learn to balance the tactical with the personal strategic skills of a warrior.

Tactical Tango                        Strategic Tango
Taking steps                             Pausing, listening, being in the moment
Dancing on the beat                 Knowing the song/orchestra's version
Series of steps learned            The music decides the step
One cabeceo at a time             Introducing friend who isn't dancing
Dancing with the best              Helping the good become better
Drinking water                          Meeting someone at the water table
Poise after rejection                 Learning from rejection or letting go
Protecting your tanguera         Gently guiding the rogue dancer/beginner male
Not going backwards              Learning flow, craft, cunning on la pista
Going to milongas                   Help organize or support the community

Chances are that if you came home from some severe milonga-battlefield conditions that you won't have PTSD (Post-Tango Sulking Disorder) if you have been a warrior and not just a fighter.

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