Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Tanda: Your life on fast-forward

The tanda is your life on fast-forward.

The tanda (a set of four songs at a milonga) poetically represents stages of your entire adult life with your partner.  But pay attention!  Your life on Fast-Forward finishes in about 15 minutes.  It goes something like this:

  • In life a common external event brings a couple together.  In life it may be the same country, town, school, neighborhood.
    In tango it is the milonga.
  • In life a second event moves you even closer or something that emotionally moves you both.  Perhaps it is a class that interests you both.  In life this is being in the right place and the right time, a sparking of one of countless important coincidences in the Universe every millisecond.
    In tango, it is the music that leads people together, to connect, to move in tandem, to stop

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Social Tango is an Invitation-Only Event

     The Church Social is a Members-Only Club
Sound like Tango at times?

There's a difference between social tango, in which everyone is invited, and on the other hand, an event that should be best called a tango social in which only the guests know about the event. 

"Encuentros" are in fact tango socials and not social tango.  Let me explain.

Women's Group Church Socials don't invite men and non-members. Such invitational events are called "socials" in English. Much of their advertising is word-of-mouth. In the same way, encuentros may need to advertise at first, but once they get going, I believe they should stop advertising and stop having many connected to the event on social media.  Encuentros today often have more that are turned away than those who are invited.  This unnecessarily causes too many hurt feelings.  For example, if you are in fourth grade you don't tell everyone in your class that you are having a big party, and then hand out invitations to half the class, right?  Also, the wise party organizer who is putting on the party (encuentro), should realize that local and very good close-embrace dancers will be upset that right there in their town is a wonderful event, and they are not invited. The list of haves and have-nots is clear because many are allowed to join the social media page to see those who are coming to the event.  It all needs to be fairly discrete, even secret or at least not flaunted.

Encuentros are havens for close-embrace enthusiasts. I am one of those enthusiasts!  And I agree these events can be wonderful, but they are not, as often advertised, "social tango."  There is no right or wrong between the two, but social tango is much different than a tango social--an encuentro.  Sure, we are social in our little closed group.  But let's be discrete (social) with those who did not get in for whatever reason.

The Private Party Milonga
Last summer, my partner and I were invited to a wonderful secret encounter in the middle of a Bavarian forest!  The dance floor was put together only for one night each year and it fits only on one place on earth with a tree "growing" in the middle.  Magical! This secret milonga was absolutely private and a celebration among around 40 friends.  My partner and I knew only the organizers, our friends. We were privileged, lucky and chosen.  Exclusive milongas/invitation-only events have their place among close friends and word of mouth.

I have been invited to encuentros in Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland. If only I were rich!  I'll admit it:  I love encuentros, and they are not evil or wrong.  But let's be truthful. They are not social tango either; they are tango socials--exclusive, invitational-only events.  At their very best, encuentros are like the secret milonga I mentioned above. No pictures could be shared on the Internet, no deadline to enter was present, and we were asked not to mention it to others to avoid hurt feelings. That is presently very un-encuentro-like, but I feel that would be a good standard.  Word of mouth is a good advertising mechanism.

I do not feel social when I am invited or admitted into an encuentro.

When I have been invited, I feel privileged.

When I am not invited, I feel excluded.

When I get my name in soon enough, I feel relieved.

When I know that an organizer "squeezes" me in after the deadline, I feel grateful.

When I know I could be like many other people who are outside the door wishing they too could enter, I feel lucky.

But not social.

So I admit it.  I like encuentros (tango socials) but my heart is with social tango, a tango that is warm, kind and accessible--even to the uninvited.  Social tango is the only way tango will survive.  The paradox is that, the only way that I will survive in tango is by having events that have all the events that one finds at an encuentro.  I have to live with that paradox. 

Photo Credit:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tai Tango Chi

Chi is my partner; she dances me.
Describing the world of Tai Chi and Qigong in the martial arts,  Garri Garripoli says in his book:

The "master. . . moves as if entranced in a tango with the Universe."* 

And the converse is true, paired tango dancers move as if connected to the soul of the one before them and the universe.

I have a theory:  Tango is best not an analogy to describe martial arts, as Garripoli and others have done.  Tango is at its best a better expression of yin and yang than the martial arts!  The dancers harmonize and connect their energy-centers and melt together as one.  The martial arts do this, but less.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Stop Practicing Tango!

When one of the greatest cellists of all time, Pablo Casals, was asked why he continued to practice the cello three hours a day, he replied, “I’m beginning to notice some improvement.”  He was 93 years old.

Give up practising tango--at least in the sense of it as an act of preparation.

The word "practise" comes from Greek (praxis):