Saturday, September 19, 2015

Ambassadors of Peace on the Dance Floor

From the most humble  person in a nation to the president:  We are all ambassadors.  That is why I prefer the name "embajadora" for the person in the Rol Femenino in tango.  "Followers" have a limited part in real power, but the Rol Femenino is a powerhouse of talent and gives equilibrium to the tandem, improvisational dance of tango.  

And we need ambassadors!  How is peace maintained on the wild "streets" of the dance floor: People embracing each other, hypnotized by the music AND moving forward while making circles, stops and turns! 

Ambassadors keep us from road rage and mortal combat!

Tango has far more distractions than there are when driving a car--and FAR MORE accidents. Luckily we are all "driving" slowly or each milonga would have fatalities!  I am better able to deal with the crazy wooden streets of distraction when I have my partner actively being the music's ambassador, calming me with the endless tango "traffic violations" or mishaps that continually happen on many dance floors.  She helps me to hear la Música's leading Voice.  Her body language actively suggests ideas as I initiate each new movement.  One of the greatest experiences at gender-balanced festivalitos* in Europe is that the distractions are very few and my ambassador has less to do to calm me from idiotic drivers. 

This following list is my own self-disclosure and may be just me, but here are a few of the distractions or "warring elements" my ambassador helps me overcome at some milongas:
  • I can be very upset while watching someone not only put me but others on the dance floor in physical danger or limit our enjoyment.  My best embajadora, my wife, will sometimes say: "Baby, you are not present."  She rarely says this, but she is always right. I think that I am dancing well in spite of the distractions, but she feels it.
  • The music is too loud or soft or a poor copy with bad fidelity.  This is very distracting.  The ambassador brings me back.  Excellent milongas have DJ's who allow la Música's Voice to lead clearly with truly danceable tangos.
  • Particularly unnerving to me is when an "advanced dancer" or teacher races by me doing wonderful moves but endangering others as she/he swerves in and out of traffic.  The embajadora brings me back to be present in the music and her embrace. 
  • An overly excited woman just led a man out onto the dance floor because he abdicated his role as Guide.  I have to put on my breaks and avoid running into them.  The ambassador helps me from the temptation of me watching the two of them figure out the next unthinking move they will make.
  • "Oh here he is again!" I tell myself.  "How do I keep getting onto the floor next to this guy?" It's the same guy who needs twice as much room to dance as everyone else.  Or perhaps it's the guy who stays as close as he can to me because he likes to "progress" even though forward movement is not possible. The ambassador brings me back to her sweet embrace and I protect her from his tailgating.
I "negotiate" the physical world, the dance floor, and I actively propose movements that she can interpret to her best skill and understanding of tango vocabulary.  We take turns delighting each other with our entirely separate roles.  She "negotiates" the inner psychological world--the many distractions that I have, the warring elements.  

With our respective roles, we can make tango, not war.

*Festivalitos or "encuentros" are small tango festivals, which are quickly filled, often within minutes in Europe.  Organizers are expected to have excellent DJ's and choose people who will keep their feet on the ground with safe moves.  These events can seem elitist because many dancers are very good, but mostly they are filled with people who are able to to dance in freedom from fear of crazy drivers.  I have written much about encuentros, often with scepticism of the consequences of steeling away the best dancers from local milongas.   My wife, however, has convinced me that her experience at these events far out-shadows local milongas. [In my blog's search engine, you can put in the word "encuentro" and find earlier posts on this subject.]    

Photo Credit:  The Presidente de Argentina

Original photo was of a crazy driver.

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