Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Kind tango vs a kind of tango

Social tango is kind tango . . .

. . . not a kind of tango.

More than a few people I have known have left the tango community or commuted to a different place because of anti-social elements--sometimes real, sometimes perceived.   In the outward world, surely we will find kind people who are perceived as arrogant or antisocial, and social people who are truly dangerous, even psychopathic.   Not many people continue dancing over a decade.  So this makes me wonder if I will survive, and if I do, what will I look like?  Will my tango be social?  Will I be still kind and generous?  My steps, but embrace may look like social tango, but will the outward signs of
my social tango be without kindness?  If so, then it will be a counterfeit of social tango.  "Kindness" is not dancing with just anyone.  I have found, and surely women can attest, that one can be kind to your own feet by choosing with whom you will dance.

Risk Assessments
Are you ready to get better and better as a dancer?  A so-called spectrum of skills in tango includes a wide ranges of styles.  I am not sure here, but from observation, I wonder if a  wide range of skill will increase a risk of arrogance and antisocial behavior. If this is true, then knowing the risk of getting more skill will allow us to lower the risk of becoming arrogant along with more skilled.

The answer is not to avoid skill!  More dance skill is the best thing to have to be more profoundly social, but that is because the person who works at kindness and skill will have a chance to have a huge influence on the community of dancers.   Have you ever had a kindness class to go along with that volcada you are learning?  If not, you might have to do this on your own! :-)

If we had to choose, a spectrum of social skills is even more important than a spectrum of dance skills.  We need to cultivate human relationships more than being a "movement specialist."  Does your local teacher teach "social tango"?  Is your teacher a model of social skill?

Skill is Power/Power corrupts
Understanding risk is the best way to manage risk.  Skill is power, and may even sour the social tango scene when skill is not amalgamated with the power of genuine social skills.  A person suddenly rich or suddenly recognized for beauty or skill may not have the social skills to deal with this sudden change.  Royalty had a way of dealing with this phenomenon:  Princes and princesses are generally sent off to boarding schools to be roommates the king's subjects, sleep on hard beds and to do chores. The real goal is to develop social skills and stay grounded even with the prospect of royal fame and fortune.  In tango, we don't have boarding schools for developing tango stars.  The loudly drunk tango stars making fun of dancers at tango festival reserved-for-VIP table are an example of having social skills that did not keep up with their skill.  These may be minority, but they speak very loudly against professional dancers, even though the majority of them are mostly humble and grateful to be able to live practising their art and expressing their talent.

Sudden power syndrome
A person who suddenly has money, a skill or anything that brings power, may actually go from being considered a nice person, to a suddenly arrogant, cruel, even dangerous person.  In fact we all seem to say, "Wow!" When a rich, beautiful or highly skilled person is so down-to-earth-and-friendly.  When such a person has not allowed the power of skill, wealth or beauty overshadower their social skills, we think of it as unusual.  Why do we say "wow," about normal kindness, friendliness?  Isn't it because his or her social skills actually have advanced to deal with power?

If you love social tango you will only survive by considering it kind tango and nothing to do with an embrace or love of a particular era.  Most of us will never be particularly talented; so it is up to us also not to allow antisocial elements to destroy our local scene.  Historically, social tango developed into a particular style because antisocial behavior on the dancefloor was harming the community. Kindness and consideration--tango etiquette--is ethical tango.  I would argue that social tango is more than considerate floorcraft.  Social tango is kindness with a walking embrace to music.

Photo credit:  Suzie Cheer.  I cannot find her on a Google search. So if anyone knows the source please tell me!

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