Thursday, August 25, 2011

Arriving at the end of the tanda with two women

 With great talent or "two left feet" the solution is the same:
Listen to La Música
My purpose at the start of every tanda, is to arrive with two women present, or at least one. 

Let me explain.

The surest way to stumble around and displease a tanguera is to continually focus on the series of steps one has learned in tango school.  If your art was oil painting, "steps" could be translated as "painting by the numbers."  Painting by the numbers is a type of art but not truly artistic.

Oil painters have their visual inspiration.  For us, music is our inspiration.  I constantly tell myself to listen to this inspiring Lady -- la Música.  I tell myself:  "She should center you, inspire you."

Remember the song, "Words get in the Way?"  There's an old tango called "Steps get in the Way," isn't there? Maybe it was a vivid dream I had.  The words were going around in my head as I woke up last night:  

Los pasos no markan el compás
Porque me enseñaron tantas cosas,
Que ya no puedo sentir lo demás.

My steps don't go to the beat
Because they taught me so much
That the steps confused my feet.
[Translated with "poetic license."]

Gentlemen:  Whenever I have ever felt intimidated from a woman who says something insensitive, such as "how long have you been dancing" and generally wants to know my pedigree, or seems to wonder before our first step if I am appropriate for her most esteemed level, I go back to la Música -- not steps I have learned.  "She" believes in me and gives me grace when I listen to her.  "She" is not to be impressed but impresses anyone who listens and follows her lead.   ¡La Música!  What a kind and impressive woman.  She makes me want to embrace even the insensitive mortal in front of me and go on a special trip, called tango.  Maybe there is still hope for the insensitive one.  Maybe "by grace she will be saved."*  Even if this mortal tanguera doesn't join me, as long I have been faithful to La Música, I have done my part and at least I arrive at the end of tanda with one woman.

Stated in other terms:  If the steps get in the way, if I try to impress the woman who cannot be impressed, I arrive at the end of the tanda all by myself.  

No mortal woman can make you dance to the music.  Only the immortal, goddess, La Música, can make even two left work perfectly well.

Bon voyage!

*Sorry, Saint Paul of Tarsus.  I don't think you meant it this way.  But what the heck.  It works for me, and God loves it when people find grace somehow!

Photo Credit of 2 left feet:


  1. I also think it's useful at those moments when you have just had a discouraging private lesson and are feeling uncertain about your technique or your dancing or nervous about the person you are dancing with. Focus on the music! This goes for women, too: don't follow, listen to the music and interpret it in your dance!

    There are, of course, times when a man's technique is so poor he cannot express himself with the music. And I have danced with plenty of professional musicians who danced like robots without paying any seeming attention to the music (they were probably too concerned with their steps). But if you at least try to express what you hear most partners will appreciate that. And, I'd add, listen with your own ears, but also pay attention to how your partner hears it. Be open to suggestions from them as the dance unfolds.


Please leave a comment with four options:
(1) Here on the blog.
(2 & 3) On the links given above for Facebook/Google+ links.
(4) Comment via email at, which with your permission, I can paste into comments.