Tango Argentino > Draft essay on tango

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Tango-ne, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    So it begins that the story is about a man who lacks an audience. He wants to hear someone say that he is not defeated. The winds blow around him, his world is shaky, but he stands against those forces and shows that he is strong in mind. He is not challenging anything, but is looking to soothe himself and prove himself. But there is no one but himself. So now he becomes self-centered, he wants and needs to treat himself, he needs to show himself that he is still an animal inside though he is humbled on the outside. He has spent what he has, and now he will enjoy what he has bought which is merely a length of song with a woman. That’s the stage on which he is to act. By melting into that song and by melding into that woman, he can make the moment meaningful, he can stretch out time. He will enjoy this moment and let himself prove that the animal inside him is not beaten.

    Ultimately he is saying I am brooding, lonely, melancholic, needy, thirsting for attention, hungry to feel in control. He is wanting to feel the aliveness inside come to the surface. He wants to let himself out and enjoy the music with the woman, to move around her, to move her around him, as a perfume that he enjoys, using her to fill the gaps, the loneliness, the need for contact, a warm body in his arms. Like moving warm water around himself, luxuriating in the feel of the rhythm, soothed by the smoothness of the song, moving with the motion of the music, moving the woman around himself to create an imaginary place that becomes a wall against reality, a mystical moment inside the magic of music.

    Such music is that of tango. The tones of melancholy, the lyrics of loving and yearning reach deep inside and resonate with the man’s emotions and wraps around his feelings. Yes, he says, I am that music, which is both sad but courageous. It is as if those words and phrases were meant for me. I am lonely but brave, I have lost but am not lost, I want to express that I am still very much alive and I will carry on, just as the beat of the music carries the rhythm on through this song, so too the beat of my feet carries me on through this life. The animal inside the man comes to life and animates his movements, revitalizes his soul.

    Him aside, we must consider the woman. The instrument of his soothing. The object of his comfort that comes from being able to express himself without words. He uses her to reassert himself. He looks into her face, he embraces her existence, he pulls her into himself so that he can let his inner animal out. Feel, he lets himself. I am still a man, he uses her to pull that thought out of him. I am not defeated, he poses, but not for an audience, just for himself, but he could not have done it without her support, so she becomes part of him, the other half that was necessary, his partner, his counterpart. Only by being with her could he have told his tale.

    Oh, and her? She knows she is helping the man, she moves around him as he needs, she caresses him with her movements, she lets him know that she understands what he wants. She knows that she is needed, by him, to become part of his connection with the music, she lets herself go to him and be moved by him and be used by him to express the joy of life, to help him find himself from within, to help him bring together this moment that he is creating, inside of which there is only the music, him, and her, as one.

    Hence at the end of the song, the final pose, the triumph of the soul, the brave face that proves that he is still alive. It remains even as the music fades out, the act continues, he offers his arm and escorts the woman off the stage. He bows in gratitude, then finally, perhaps reluctantly, exits the stage himself.

    Kindly, gently, he returns to reality.

    Is this then another page in his story of tango?
  2. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    Hmm Im not sure what your point is. Are you trying to say that men dance with women in order to feel less impotent , to assuage their sense of self pity? I would hope that we are more generous than that. Surely the point is to feel the connection, to give yourself to the other person. This particular guy sounds far too insensitive. He just doesnt care.
  3. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    It's just a story I wrote as an exercise to try to fill in the background to a routine I am working on. I am just beginning to get an idea of the role that the lead takes on, the character of the dance so to speak. To assume such a role, I wanted to create a bit of a story on what I would be trying to express. Right or wrong, it's just my idea of what might be interesting to communicate. I am by no means saying that my story is anything to do with distilling the essence of tango. I hope that there are elements of tango in it that give it some authenticity. But, no, I am merely a beginner on the sidelines looking forward to putting on a good show for the woman I dance with. Cheers!
  4. Me

    Me New Member

    Do you want me to critique it through PM? I wasted many an hour on my MA in creative writing...
  5. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    OKay blue pen out: the first paragraph reads as stage notes or a summary of what is to follow. I am not convinced that he should know what the outcome is. He starts dancing with "needs" rather than a clear idea of what he will get from a/the woman.

    "I am brooding, lonely, melancholic, needy, thirsting for attention, hungry to feel in control" is more convincing than "By melting into that song and by melding into that woman, he can make the moment meaningful, he can stretch out time. He will enjoy this moment and let himself prove that the animal inside him is not beaten."

    Its a bit Pablo Veron/'Tango Lesson' ie Male-centric and takes no account of her needs or that the dance might be a conversation rather then be mere gratification. He could get the same satisfaction from shooting a deer!
  6. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    I was thinking about a workshop I took, and subsequent comments about the origins of tango, the lonely men at the docks, the evenings dancing with women, expressing desire in the form of dance, and even of the sometimes mentioned ladies-of-the-night-type references who were danced with.

    Ergo, I thought a background story would involve a very male-centric position, where the woman is there to satisfy the man, to be <excuse the language> "used" by him.

    However; I think that thanks to your input, I will consider a major structural change in the story. HE comes into the picture as "brooding, lonely, melancholic, needy, thirsting for attention, hungry to feel in control" because he is beaten down by his environment (he is alone, he is tired from working, his job is weighing heavily on him, maybe his stock portfolio has taken a beating - ha, this has the smackings of having modern day parallels...) anyways, he pays for a dance with a woman.

    BUT here's the difference that I'll make to my story: the woman is paid for to dance, but she awakens him, cheers him on, teaches him by dancing with him. And as he awakens and sees that life is not so bad, that he still has some merit as he licks his wounds, he starts to have a conversation with the woman, and the woman responds by following him deeper and deeper into that conversation of dance. And THAT'S when the animal in him comes to the surface and the woman sees that she has nursed him back. And he is on fire and dancing up a storm and she laughs and follows him around and around and they become one and time stretches on and only when they open their eyes do they see that they had both helped each other lose themselves in the moment and step into a special place outside of their everyday troubles and it is fulfillment that is still ringing in their ears and twinkling in their eyes as the music dies down.

    Thanks for the input, by this revision, I see that the role of the man NEEDS the woman, and that he not merely quenching a thirst that may be just as easily satisfied by shooting a deer, which I've never done before, so maybe it is just the better that I took up tango! ;)
  7. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    well what constitutes manliness and what makes a man is another whole kettle of worms.

    i think your story is a lot clearer now, although, animal/anima/animus could lead in all sorts of directions; Beauty & the Beast; Lycanthropy, animal spirits and shamanism; possession, and why is awakening the animal in him a good thing? Like in "Cat People" there is a link between sexuality, power and destrcution.
  8. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    Good point, I think I'll clarify by saying that the man is depressed by his daily endeavors, that he doesn't know what he wants, that he doesn't know yet what he is looking for, that he decides to use his last resources on a dance, and that through the dance he finds encouragement, he finds enthusiasm, he finds a desire to live and enjoy life (sounds like a Danish movie plot). In this way, I am not defining "manliness" but rather I'm trying to capture the emotional feeling of "the zeal for life".

    Good point, men are made of worms? All I remember is that little boys are made of snips and snails and puppydog tails! What is a snip? I think I need to know.

    Cat people! I remember that movie! It's all coming together now. As a matter of fact, the Tuesday night tango instructor is all about prowling on the dance floor as a predatory large cat. And then there's the whole fascination with furries, anthropomoriphic animals! Which reminds me of a website I clicked through that sold men's latex catsuits. I guess it is the universe telling me that by the next halloween milonga, my transformation into a tango-ing black panther may be both dancually and visually complete! Cheers!
  9. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

  10. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member


    One problem is, A.T is multi-faceted. Difficult to include it all in one lone essay, however well written. Maybe with ballroom it would be possible, you write an essay on one couple preparing for the next day comp and you can put everything in it, all will be covered, the judges, the dresses, the cosmetics, it's all the same in every comp in every part of the world. For A.T a kaleidoscope of essays would be necessary, each one focussing on one theme. I'd say keep the "not-quite-dead" part of your essay, develop it further, make it look like Gavito's last milonga or something, and bar all the rest, about the woman's role and the music. Let other people write an essay on the music, maybe from the point of view of the second violin in an orchesta tipica, with his own view of the tango (non-dancer) and his own frustrations (solo parts being played by the other violin), let another person write about the role of the woman (say from the point of view of a portena at the end of the touristic season, when all the foreign ladies and their CIF are gone) and so on and after one hundred essay are written then DF can edit a book.
  11. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Tango-ne what is the music you would use?
  12. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    What you say is how I'd interpreted your meaning. It sounded more like a therapeutic exercise for yourself more than anything rather than an expression of male impotency. I liked it. BUT...of course there's always a "but")...in time you will learn that there is no "must" or "making" or "meaning to". Learn the basics and then "Be" your own.
  13. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    Therapy...you are right on!

    Oh boy oh boy, I think you have set me on the right track now.

    As often happens...I just lost a huge amount of digital typing that I was just doing, because my login had timed out and in an effort to log back into this forum, I must have flushed my previous draft post into the digital toilet.

    At any rate, my theraputic "breakthrough" has been accomplished! What a bunch of pontificating I was doing with my first draft essay on "a beaten man"! And a conversation with a woman-of-the-night theme? Of what relevance is that to me? That essay was almost like an unemotional attempt to be connected and emotional! It was an exact reflection of why the last miloga we went to ended in our fiery dance known as The "Fiasco"! It was (to use my architecture professor's words) too "contrived"! Arg! Those words haunt me. Not authentic, not from the heart...too contrived. Just like I think my dance has been. (See, there's that word again, "think")

    So let me internalize my story and start anew, with more authenticity:

    The story is not about any generic beaten man, but it is about me! I am that weary man, beaten by the wealth of tango information that I have collected! From the squiggles in my notebook (what exactly is "ML back to F8 and B5x tap out"?!), to the contradictory voices of my many instructors, to the blurring of the videos we've taken of the numerous workshops and Youtube clips that have been running endlessly in the background. (Yes, I needed therapy all right!)

    So I take myself to one more dance, I step heavily through the doors and into the motion, movement, music! I thirst for control, I want to join in, I hunger to be part of the dance. But I am sitting on the sidelines, unable to move. My spirit is crushed (boy I know that feeling!)...then my eyes meet my sweetie's. She silently says come on, one more try, ne? I volunteer some courage thinking it cannot get worse.

    And I walk onto the dance floor with dread. I look up and see my sweetie, and it all comes RUSHING back at me...her gentle smile, her twinkling eyes, her gentle touch...and that horrible dance of Fiasco, where I accused her within the misery that I was creating, oh, how could I have been so cruel...so I am sorry...I am so sorry. I stand to face the music, I stand taller and straighter, I am a man, I am sorry, you did not deserve how I treated you, you do not deserve how I am treating you, it does not help to cower and hide, I am a man, not an animal. I will face up to my bad behavior, I will apologize. Darling, I am truly sorry.

    I offer my arm, she takes it. I offer my lead hand, she slowly accepts it. I hold her closer. I am embracing her without realizing it, I am holding the perfect frame for us, and I do not know it. We sway to the opening refrains. I am sorry I say again, but before I know it, we are into the tango.

    And I do not know what steps I will take, I do not have any figures in mind, I only have an open heart and I am listening with my entire being to what we are saying. What figures did I use? What steps did I incorporate? What style was I showing? I know that it does not matter, it did not matter, it never did matter. But what I know, nay, what I feel, is that whatever they were, the thrill of the tango is back at the surface inside me, the "animal" that has come alive again is the spirit of the tango.

    The music fades, the lights come up, our eyes open. And I see my sweetie, oh, she is radiant, she always has been. I won't let go of her. And as I hold her, I look into her face and I hear her at last, saying, thank you, thank you, thank you.

    <ah, there I go, letting my fingers type away again! ha!>
  14. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Nice one. BUT (like I said, always a "but") see my red highlights. Therein (I believe) lies the story within the story and beneath the surface of the tango;)
  15. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    Yes, it is the "voice of the writer" behind the "dance"! I can't wait to get to the lesson tonight! Oops, just had a call from the victim of my dancing...we're going to the university art school show instead, but you can bet I'll be practicing tango steps down the street.

    However, I still need to address the attitude behind the other tangos that I will do, when I am not apologizing. I wonder what will be the inspiration? I tell you one thing, the reason I'm somewhat concerned about having a mental story to go by is because we took a few Lindy Hop classes...and boy that's enough to shake the enui out of anybody! But when I got back to the tango class, I got an earful about "keeping the ship level" and "to stop bouncing around". Ouch! Ergo, the need for a short mental story to get me back in the right frame of mind! Cheers!
  16. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    A-ha! Your replies are bouncing with enthusiasm and honesty :p but yeah, ain't no bouncin' about in tango. This is what I do when I faux pas whilst leading in tango (yeah, even at my level it happens) - rather than saying sorry all the time (a bit like the word "Love": it has a tendancy to lose its meaning the more often it's used), I just squeeze my follower's hands twice, quickly. She's knows that I've cocked up, so the two gentle squeezes she feels is her feeling my apology and sometimes I get a "that's okay" squeeze back.

    There's a wonderful (yum-yum) guy here who is an amateur boxer. On Fridays he does a few hours in the ring, showers then comes to straight tango. I asked him how he found the transition between something so aggressive and then onto something so graceful. He replied: "easy, I just draw on the woman within" The "woman" in your piece I interpreted as a part of yourself - more so than some tangible being. :)
  17. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    Okay, that's quite a bit of art therapy...or dance therapy. The "woman within" concept, wow, just when I thought I had a good handle on which direction to go at the next practica. However, it reminds me of six months ago when I read that in Argentina, men would start off by dancing with other men as the follower until they had a few YEARS of experience and were ready to go to a dance! With that spirit in mind, and the fact that there were more men in that class than women, I thought I would offer to practice with the other men! Good idea, but it didn't get any reception at all...I wanted to say, "hey, if it's good for tango, why not?". I dropped the attempt quickly, but the thought remains because I admit that the BEST lessons for me were when the instructor makes me take the follower's role and then I GET IT on what the woman needs. But this idea of the "grace of the woman within" coming into the tango is quite an unexpected turn of conversation! Just when I thought I would get more office work done today, I find that I need to ponder this...hmmmm, I think I'll watch some Orlando Paiva Jr and contemplate...thanks!

    As a side note: one workshop instructor...hmmm, his name was...Mariano, said that he never experienced so much non-partner changing as he saw in our community. If the men in our group are unwilling to switch partners, imagine how hard it would be to switch roles! But I still insist that to be thoroughly versed in the dance means understanding both the leader and the follower's parts! Cheers!
  18. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    :D - it's not about a man leading (although yes, I agree re. learning both parts, but more getting in touch with another side of your character. Learning to follow was a major headache for me at first. Having to "let go" and allow the man to lead my move was hard, hard, hard. Until I brushed the man within aside and drew out the woman. Balance.

    Or, why don't you just stand on the spot,close your eyes and see where the music takes you.:D

    As a side note: one workshop instructor...hmmm, his name was...Mariano, said that he never experienced so much non-partner changing as he saw in our community. If the men in our group are unwilling to switch partners, imagine how hard it would be to switch roles! But I still insist that to be thoroughly versed in the dance means understanding both the leader and the follower's parts! Cheers![/quote]
  19. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    The character of the dance that I want to tango is what I'm looking for when I say I need a mental reference to get me in the right frame of mind.

    So fine, I've worked out my routine for a dance with my ever-so-patient partner...tango-overloaded man>owns up to previous arguement with partner>makes an apology thru dance by letting himself go.

    But in the other dances. I guess it depends on the mood I'm in, but I'm watching Dances with the Stars and I get an inkling that to "get into the character of the dance" is a good thing. Especially with dances like the Paso Doble. So I am wondering: what is a good starting point for my beginner tango?

    Arrogant man>takes pleasure in the dance partner.
    Sensitive man>wants to give the woman a pleasurable dance.
    Showoffy man>wants to show off himself to the woman.
    Introspective man>looks for inner peace thru dancing with the woman.

    As in, let's have a conversation through dance. Ok, I think that is the phrase I'm looking for.

    Whatever the outside world, the man steps into the dance hall and looks forward to communicating through dance. The evening holds the promise of lots of dances, and he hopes that there will be enough variety in the music to help him express his thoughts that evening.

    He does not know what he is going to say through dance, but the music starts and so does the conversation. He takes his first partner to the floor, they embrace, an open embrace, the music has an aggressive tone. It suits him just fine. He starts off and says "what a hard day!" by leading the woman to a series of ochos...with flicks and sharp turns...an expression of the twists and turns of his day...then the music holds a long note, and the woman steps into the invitation for a close embrace as if to say "it's okay, the day is over...", and then the music speeds up, and now the woman says "I've had a hard day too!" and spins around and around in a moullette with the music then stops and strikes a pose in defiance...close embrace again and the man says "yes, we have had a hard day...but you are right, let's forget the day and look forward to the night" The dance continues as a conversation...hmmm...I think this is going to work.

    After all, unlike Dances with the Stars, there are no judges on the dance floor, and as long as the conversation continues, who knows what the topics will be. It would depend on the mood, the music, the partner, the atmosphere, etc, etc...how wonderful. I now look forward to the next milonga! Cheers!
  20. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Hee, hee, hee :)

    It is so good that you're visualising ahead to where you want to be and understanding exactly what you want from your dance. BUT (yep, that word again) as a newcomer, my advice to you would be to at this stage to listen, watch and then practice, practice, practice. Whilst resting visualise the entire class all over again and if you feel the need to leap up and dance then do so. Remember, this whole getting into character is not like the character taken on in practice as one sees on Dancing with the Stars (our Strictly Come Dancing). These dancers are dancing for points not merely pleasure and so not only do "choreographed" dance skills have to be learned and remembered but the dance face too has to be put in place. Social dance is a pleasure not a competition and so there really is no "getting into character" as it were but marking your own character into your dance. This will come easily and naturally the more experience you become. And, and, and if there is too much thinking, rationalising, analysing going on in the dance that personality that is struggling to come through to make the dance its own will just disappear into a corner.

    Happy days, my friend. Practice, practice, visualise, practice and remember? Enjoy it.

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