Tuesday, April 5, 2022

The Day After the Milonga at Work



Sleeping is a primal need. Dancing is a primal need.  We don't need to choose between them.  We need both.

Some will say sleep is more important, and it is.  But dance is also is a human need and a major marker that we are human and not apes (who don't dance spontaneously as humans do).  Dancing is a subcategory of the need to move, but a very important and unique need.

But here is the thing--one primal need, sleep, is too often being canceled out for the lesser need and desire of tango.    

So here are a few questions for you:  Are you still are going to late milongas? Ever heard of the circadian rhythm?  Sleep deprivation causing depression?  Poor memory?  Higher risks for multiple diseases?  Lower functioning of the immune system?  You probably have.  So if you said yes to all these questions, then no doubt you are gently influencing your favorite organizer to make their milonga earlier.  Right?  

My love of tango has brought great passion and joy to my life. But my late-night tango practice had me sleep-deprived for years.  I regret not seeing this earlier.  Poor sleep led to poor judgment in nearly all areas of my life.  I can see that now.  For example, when I started sleeping sensibly again, I noticed that I remembered tasks at work better.  I had better performance.  I remembered people's names.  I would remember passwords easily.  I had fewer colds.

So here are some things to consider for basic needs:  Air, water, food, sleep, and the need to move.  Don't hold your breath for days before the milonga or after dancing. Don't go without water before, during or after a milonga.  Eat to nourish your dancing body.  And finally: wake up about the need for sleep.  If you need to move, then dance!

Putting knowledge into practice is the next step.  Support the organizers who think early milongas are what dancers want and need.  But they need to hear your voice; so please speak up.  Or at least vote with your feet by going to any milonga that is earlier when there is a choice.  Your request for an early start, however, is not enough.  If the milonga starts at 7:30 pm goes until 2 in the morning, then no one will show up until 10.  7pm to 11pm provides a four-hour milonga.  Make it 5 hours max.  Your body will dance better for the rest of your life.  Yes, I know that some milongas go all day or maybe 7 hours in Buenos Aires.  Old traditions are responsible for good things and bad things.  It once was a tradition to smoke at milongas too. Someday and even now, milongas are happily early and well attended because unwise traditions are giving way to wisdom.  Help your favorite organizer make the switch.  It's time.


Photo Credit:  https://www.life-with-confidence.com/so-tired-reasons.html

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Opening Arms versus Owning Arms


We the People ... ... should put our freedoms in the right order.  Ameican freedoms, as prioritized in the Constitutional Amendments, got it wrong. This post is not against or for guns; it's about prioritizing freedoms. 

I propose that people keep their guns if they think they need them, but as far as priorities, the Second Amendment should be changed from the freedom to own arms to the Freedom of Movement, and that includes dance: To open one's arms and dance.

Now, this sounds cute and simple, doesn't it?  But I am serious. Do oppressive governments FIRST fear the freedom of dance or of speech? If the world was paying attention, swing dance and jazz were the first to feel the stranglehold of Nazism before larger "freedoms of speech " felt it. Tango was forbidden for a time in a repressive regime in Argentina.  Coincidence?  Here is another example: The Taliban were prohibiting dance far before the general public in the West had ever heard of them.  Could it be that dance is not only the pulse of the human spirit; maybe dance is the pulse of freedom of expression? In the history of humanity, many governments and religious leaders have and still are prohibiting dance. 

As Jefferson looks on...
With Jefferson looking on at
his memorial, a dancer is
subdued by police.
In light of a country out of control with gun violence, let me point out a little-known document, written by Thomas Jefferson.  Two groups of youth wanted to use public property in Washington, D.C. in September 1825.  It was a rotunda, and the two groups requested space to practice.  One group wanted to dance and the other wanted to practice with small weaponry.*

When I first came to the Washington, DC area, police aggressively subdued people who demonstrated against restrictions to dance at the Thomas Jefferson memorial. 

Thomas Jefferson specifically speaks well of dance and even gives permission to dance at that public rotunda and at the same time denied a request to practice the use of weapons at the same public place.  Ironically DC police, wielding weapons aggressively made dancers stop, fighting them to the floor.  Thomas Jefferson watched, standing in frozen disbelief in his own Memorial building. And since that time, more and more bloody massacres have happened while people were dancing.  What would Thomas Jefferson have to say on this subject?  Well, this is what he did say:


"...[The] use of a room for instructing [students] in the art of dancing, stands on more favorable ground [than for weapons training]. [Dance's] object is the embellishment, and not the destruction, of the lives of our young citizens . . . . Dancing is generally, and justly I think, considered among innocent accomplishments; while we cannot so consider the art of stabbing and pistoling our friends, or dexterity in the practice of an instrument exclusively used for killing our fellow-citizens . . . ."

Watch carefully when your freedom to dance is taken. You laugh.  Watch. When your culture values bearing arms more than open arms you have already have lost the value of dance in your culture. Freedom of speech may be next.




*Extra thought:
The whole text is transcribed below from the manuscript to Jefferson to Louis Xaupe, dated September 1825:  "An application from young gentlemen of the University for the appropriation of a room wherein they might receive instruction in the use of the small sword having led me to the consideration of that subject previously to the receipt of your letter of yesterday, I inclose you my answer to them, which I pray you to receive as equally an answer to yourself.

The other part of your request, for the use of a room for instructing them in the art of dancing, stands on more favorable ground [than for weapons training]. [Dance's] object is the embellishment, and not the destruction, of the lives of our young citizens, and the Visitors seem to have provided for it in the statute which enacts that one of the elliptical rooms on the middle floor of the Rotunda shall be used for 'schools of instruction in drawing, music, or any other of the innocent and ornamental accomplishments of life.' Dancing is generally, and justly I think, considered among innocent accomplishments; while we cannot so consider the art of stabbing and pistolling our friends, or dexterity in the practice of an instrument exclusively used for killing our fellow-citizens . . . ."