Tango Argentino > Draft essay on tango

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

  1. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    Am I dancing the Tango or is the Tango dancing me?

    The wind is warm as it blows over this grassy hill I'm on. I am so blessed to be at this location. The clouds are big and puffy but moving fast across the sky. I don't know why the wind is so inviting today, but I'm not complaining. I close my eyes and I can feel the sunshine. I spread out my arms and lean backwards into the wind. My white shirt is flapping away and I could care less that the wind has pulled the buttons open. The earth is hugging me, I feel Her Elements wrap around me. I hold their hands and say let's go!. I open my eyes and skip and stumble down the hill with them racing around me. I am moved by them and my being is theirs. I am not their master to control, I am merely happy to be amongst them as they bubble around me. So I ask again, am I dancing them, or are they dancing me?

  2. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    As this week comes to a close..I like the progress we have made. I now see my notes in a whole new light:

    From Modesty I learned > I am not a mad matador, there is no need for wild waving of my arms and elbows, no need for rapid twists of the torso and stomps of the feet. She said, just whisper, I am right here, I can hear your modest movements, lead me with calm and quiet, little movements, there, easy, nice, I'm right here...and she pressed into me.

    From Humility I learned > I am dancing for me, from the heart, for her, to her heart. There is no audience, there is no competition, no judging, no applause, no record even of this dance, it is just a moment enjoyed together, she said, close your eyes, nobody is looking, focus just on us, forget about everyone else and you will see you are with me...and she closed her eyes.

    From Simplicity I learned > tango is simple, man makes it complex. It is not a dance of long sentences with no time to breathe. No. It is a dance of the moment, a moment between two steps, the one just finishing and the one just starting. Any more is like trying to demand where the next raindrop will fall, she said, be the rain, be in this moment not the next, trust yourself in not knowing...and she relaxed in my arms.

    From Elegance I learned > the words are the same whether I shout them or sing them…so which is more pleasant? We are dancing, not rock smashing. So when you hold my hand, hold it just so. And when you step, step just so. Do not forget that though a step is a step, it makes ALL the difference in how you take it. Touch my heart with your motion, not your knowledge of figures, she said, reach for my soul and in doing so you will find yours…and softly she started to hum.

    Note: a short thank you to my teachers, both real and imagined, both on the floor and in this forum. Cheers!
  3. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    And of course, a huge hug and thank you to my ever patient Sweetie. I'll untangle this tango yet dear! xox
  4. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    My mad uncle H.

    I went to visit uncle H, as I do, occasionally, for some insight, or rather, for a different perspective on this thing called tango that I’m mulling over. In this instance it was with some foreboding that I pushed through his garden gates and made my way across the junkyard that was his front yard. Well, actually, it was also like that in his side yards and his back yard, and forget about the garage, you can’t even see where it is for all the half digested appliances, and car chassis, and bed springs, and computers and televisions, but the odd thing is that, unlike a real junkyard, the items collected by uncle H have a certain aesthetic to them, and dare I say, almost artistic merit, or am I just seeing beauty in the masses? or messes? At any rate, I’m up on his porch and wondering which front door to knock on, for there are four distinct front doors all somewhat side by side along the front of the house, and from experience, I know that each leads to different foyers and hallways only to meet up together deeper in the house before splitting apart and leading to various rooms and stairways, and careful, one leads you right back around to the front again. You think that’s odd about all those front doors? Take a look inside! There are doors everywhere, some leading to rooms, some leading to blank walls, some opening into empty space, and every time I show up, there’s a different combination of doors that are either open or closed and locked. You think I’m kidding, right? The next time you’re this far up North, give me a call and we’ll go for a visit.

    So after a goodly long time knocking on each of the doors, uncle H pops his head out the attic window way up on the third and a half floor up and shouts merrily, “c’mon up!” in which case he literally means that I should climb the wisteria bramble up to the second floor deck and then shimmy up the (get this) drainpipe! just like in the movies, and finally onto the top roof. Don’t worry, I’ve gone up this way before, and trust me, it’s as dangerous as it looks, but it’s so much faster than going in the front door. As an aside, do you want to really know what the inside is like? Because uncle H has an equally mad housekeeper who roams the halls and, no kidding, this is so like the Labyrinths of myth with a minotaur salivating in the depths somewhere. So climbing along the outside is actually much preferable!

    Then I am finally at his window and I look inside to see what manner of material will comprise my landing pad today, and see just the familiar books that are piled high everywhere forming an adult version of the ball room but of course with books. I jump in. Uncle H does not mind that the books are stepped on, he does not worry about it much like one does not worry about hurting the feelings of grass as you stomp across the lawn. Uncle H is sitting in the biggest of easy chairs and is veritably sucked up by the puffy cushions. It looks as if a giant marshmallow is swallowing him up whole. He grins up at me. I must be one of the few visitors he has in a day, or is it a month? or year?

    “Add to my amusement,” he says and watches me with the anticipation of kindergarteners at a clown party. I swear he is waiting for me to pull a rabbit out of my trousers and that nothing less is expected, but I have never disappointed him, so I launched into the Duel of Ridiculous Things, as I like to call our conversations.

    “Uncle H,” I start, “I have started to learn the tango, and I thin-…”
    “Sing, my boy,” he interrupted.
    “Sing? I can’t sing!”
    “You are practicing tango and you can’t sing?!”
    “Well, I can sing, but now? here?”
    “Ahhhh,” Uncle H said with a sigh, “if you want to tango, you have to be able to sing on the spot…to dance is to be responsive to the sounds and emotions around you, just like singing! Pull inspiration out of the air, mesh it with your feelings, express it through your motions, wrestle with the monster that is the music of tango!” His eyes were glowing, I swear.
    “Er,” I obligingly answered, I knew it would spur him on to more of an explanation. Besides, what did Uncle H know of tango?! Or rather, what did he NOT know about anything…he continued, “You’ve reduced the dance to its basics, yes? WELL forget it! Did you name your findings with cute and romantic Titles? Beauty? Lyrics? Style? no, no, let me guess…ummm…definitely you would have used…Elegance! ah ha! I knew it! Boy, discard your ideas. Look in my garden. Behold the chaos from which there is rhythm and pattern. Through complexity you will find grace. Through variety you will find happiness. Under the cover of the multitude will you find the object of your singular pursuit!” His eyes twinkled now. What a jolly old elf! Scrawny, but packs quite a punch!
    “Follow my example, the clutter is only the clothes, under it all is the body that supports it, but no need to be so blatant and obvious. Hide yourself a little, expose only here and there. Use the clutter to show the contrast with the inner beauty. Ying and Yang. Balance. Think back to when you were a little pipsqueak. Remember this old house in its pristine state. And now look…piles of interest, items, objects, angles, shadows, windows, a multitude of paths! Where is the real me? Who is Uncle H?! Exciting, ne?”

    Exciting indeed good uncle. And I took leave then, and have hurried back to my hack-keyed computer and have been typing ever since for you! What are the implications of what my Uncle said? And so timely that having just, just finished my week of musing, that he throws a wrench into the whole works! I must ponder, but first…some sweet Quartango! Cheers!
  5. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    Quite a bizarre but entertaining read, thankyou Tango-ne.

    Singing seems to be an appropriate metaphor. By letting my mind involve itself in the melody and music as a whole, it is rather like screaming musicality at my partner. They can't help but notice which musical features I am chasing.

    Sadly pesky real-world issues like other dancers and imperfect connection stops me devoting myself like this most of the time. Yes. Singing. I like that.

    Note: Some women get weirded out if you actually sing along, particularly if you are tone deaf...
  6. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member


    Uncle H wants to experience a tango event…the next one…which is tonight! What does he except? What do I expect? How could I say no?

    I had no time to ask him any questions, he was so excited and so enthusiastic, I could feel the spittle flying at me through the phone. I barely got in a word edgewise and found myself agreeing to come around to pick him up. I remember that I told him that he should wear something decent, but I doubt he heard me on that count, then he hung up. I didn’t even get to say what time I would be there. Now I can only imagine him in his usual ill-fitting, er, comfortable mode of dress, maybe he’ll put on that blazer of an undetermined color. I can see him now, sitting out on the front porch, waiting for me to drive up. I’ll have to put my Sweetie in the back seat to make room for him up front. I feel like I’m planning a strategy for taking an overgrown mutt to the vet. Paws on the dash, head out the window, tongue flapping in the wind! Oh boy. What am I getting myself into? Okay, it won’t be that bad, I tell myself, though I know that as he waits for me, he is reaching into his blazer pocket and pulling out, what, to munch on? an old sandwich, sigh.

    Actually, I half tell my Sweetie, but mostly I’m talking out loud in order to convince myself, that it’s not a bad idea, after all, how often does the old fellow get out? He might have fun, well of course he’ll have fun, what I meant was, I might have fun…right? I can see it though. The talkative genius that he is, he’ll stumble around the crowd but eventually he’ll be the life of the party, I just know it. He’ll start off quiet but will insist on sitting at the edge of the dance floor for a better view. He’ll hypothesize about dance steps, he’ll expound the similarities of tango and some Norwegian wedding ritual, he’ll attract a small crowd of the curious, they’ll sit with him for a spell, find that he’s largely inoffensive, and then start to have a laugh or two with him.

    I bet that within a few tandas, he will have figured out some unknown-to-me secret rhythm in the tango! Oh, leave it to him to know the complexities of the steps and find some pattern that he can replicate and, and, and I don’t even know if he can sing, though he can talk a good line! He’ll probably want to dance with each and every one of the women there. They might even learn a thing or two, as I imagine each of his dances will be a running commentary on the peculiar connection of tango, women’s shoes, and the odd keyboard configuration of the bandoneon.

    I know, I know, he’ll be the eccentric breath of fresh air for the party and they will insist that he come back for the next one. I just know it. Well, I have a date with Destiny, I’ll let you know how it went! Cheers!
  7. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    He's the same uncle who taught you karate when you were a kid, isn't he? By painting the fence of his backyard.
  8. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    Naw, that's my aunt! I'm having a tea with her for Sunday brunch! Yikes, tomorrow. You'll understand why Uncle H lives by himself in that big ol' house when I tell you about Auntie M!

    Now if there was only a similar tango teacher! Wax on, wax off!
  9. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    Ok, my evening with Uncle H. It was totally not what I expected. (But then, expectations are not what Uncle H is about!)

    We went to pick Uncle H up at his home with the thought that we would invite him out for supper before the dance, but he was nowhere to be seen. He never answered the knocking at the door(s), and he has no phone so there was no reaching him inside (when he needs to call me, he runs down the street to use the pay phone!)

    We wandered around his yard for a while, but aside from a multitude of cats a la Hemingway House, there was no activity outside. I lead my sweetie around the precarious arrangement of Uncle's precious junk in the yard and eventually decided that we would just wait on the porch for while, it being a little early still, and the evening air being very warm and inviting.

    Now a word about Uncle's house, and his porch in particular. Everything is made of wood and the place has had very little upkeep over the years...decades. The porch roof leaks everywhere, pigeons roost in the eaves leaving strategic piles of shall I say guano? on the porch. Floor boards are rotted and in some places missing altogether. It is quite a hazard getting to any one of his doors. And in a rain? Well, let's just say that I don't close my umbrella until I'm inside!

    My Sweetie and I just stood there, arm in arm for a while, the scene from the porch is actually quite dynamic, with all the stuff in the front yard, and all the visual texture of the old house. Sweetie started to sing a bit of a tango tune..."ba dum dum DA, ba dum dum DA...tra la laaaa LA...tra la laaaaaaa LA!" We got in a small embrace and gingerly made our way around that danger porch, tapping playfully around the piles of guano, literally hopping over the holes in the floor boards, and making moves only where the ancient wood had not softened. The holey floorboard tango! We ended with a dramatic pose on steps...and I realised that I had mostly had my eyes half closed and only the sound of applause made me realize that we had an audience, Uncle H had been watching us from the front yard.

    Uncle H? I had to do a double take. What the heck was he wearing? I'll tell you what he was wearing (and at first I thought it was a dress! But he had been covering up the surprise with a big floral apron, which he took off with a flourish)...and revealed, an equally garish, foral ensemble of loud bermuda shorts and a hawaiian shirt, complete with hemp sandals and, hmmm...dare I say he smelled coconutty? Oh no, so familiar! It's suntan lotion! He smiled, I remember now how he had always said that he loves the summers here for the one fact that the women around would start putting on coconut scented suntan lotion...made him feel like he was on a vacation, he would say. Oh boy, this was going to be interesting!

    And with that, he toddled off to get into my truck, yes, I drive around a bully of a diesel pickup truck. My Sweetie just shakes her head, I temper my loud vehicle with a very timid driving style, so I feel that I have compromised. Uncle H has jumped into the middle of the front seat, he's like a kid going on a field trip. Ok, then, here we go, I thought. Cheers!
  10. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Oh, but there is, indeed!!
  11. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    Okay, I have a minute to tell you the rest of Friday night's milonga with Uncle H...because I learned a HUGE lesson there:

    So we grabbed a quick salad at the local pub and got to the Milonga in good spirits, Uncle H, my Sweetie and I. Oh I can't tell you how much I both dreaded and loved being there! With the lessons from the past week still fresh in my head, I was eager to get in a little practice using some civility this time...and walking with Elegance, turning with Modesty, ochoing with Humility, and stepping with Simplicity. And I was ready to just let the music carry me...I closed my eyes..oh this was going to be a wonderfu-...<tugging at my sleeze, coconut essence tickling my nose, Uncle H wants some attention> sigh.

    "I'm going to be sitting over there ok? Out of the way, you just do what you do, don't worry about me." He winked and I watched him make his way across the floor. I lost him in the crowds after a minute. But no worry I thought, and after a moment of hellos with friends at the table, I offered my hand to my Sweetie and lead her to the dance floor.

    The music...ah, the music. I let it wash over me..."think no thoughts"...I tried to relax..."mind of no mind." Let me interject something here. I understand that meditation is both easy and hard. It's easy because all you have to do is stop talking in your head...but for that reason it is also hard. Ditto for tango. I started to move, not because the music moved me, but because I felt like I was standing there too long. Then I stopped, because I wanted the music to move me, but when I stopped, I confused my Sweetie, so I started stepping again, and remembered my second instructor's words, "when in doubt, do the basic and recompose yourself." So I found myself in the basic 8 step...over and over and over again. And when I realized that I was stuck in a pattern, I switched over into back ochos...and got stuck there for a while. Then, then, then...the rest is a merciful blur and I found myself sitting back at the table with my Sweetie looking at me with raised eyebrows. I exhaled mightily, feeling like a deflating balloon. My Sweetie is now being asked to dance, she looks at me and I give a feeble smile. Let me sulk for a while, dear, go have fun...I tried several more dances with other partners, but my confidence was gone and I felt I was just repeating too much of the same, Simplicity? Modesty? Try "boring". Humility, yeah, plenty of it. Elegence? not without confidence!

    I watched listlessly for a while then I smelled the coconut again. Uncle H had found his way to me. I looked over at him expecting him to have one of his goofy dog expressions, just waiting to have the stick thrown again, but I was very surprised when I saw his face. It was very serious. Doubly so because of the contrast of his expression against his playful clothing.

    "One observation, my boy," he said. "You are holding yourself back."
    I smiled weakly, thinking, that's Modesty, uncle.
    "It's making you a boring dancer," he continued.
    I grimaced slightly, thinking, that's Simplicity, uncle.
    "And you suggest...what?" I asked.
    "Just remember all that you have learned from me in the last couple of days...and you will do fine!" he said encouragingly, the twinkle returned to his eyes. He smiled.
    "Uh...learned?" I questioned...thinking back to my time with Uncle H yesterday and earlier today.
    "Let me ask you, what do you think of my yard? Cluttered and messy right? But very interesting to experience, ne? I saw you wandering around there with your woman while waiting for me. Variety creates interest! Apply that in your dancing. Otherwise you are just walking from A to B to the time of the music. Make the path interesting. What else? You climbed the outside of my house, a path both adventurous and dangerous, it's not easy, ne? Same with your tango, you don't need to take the easy path, but you must be familiar with what you are doing. Just like climbing the drainpipe, I know that you have learned to reach with your hands and support your weight with your feet. I see you know to keep your body weight close to the house as you take the adventurous route. Ergo same with your dancing, make it adventurous...for yourself, but be confident in your movements otherwise you will fall. Just loosen up and stop holding back. Remember what you learned on my deck, all full of holes and covered with poop, you I sw you dancing with such fun, you were carefree and stepping lightly and being daring, yet, you never misstepped, or fell through a hole, or soiled your shoes, ne? Attitude is everything, my boy. And the adjustment you need is to let go a little and have fun, thereby you will make it fun!"

    I was pouting. Yet inside, I felt very hopeful. I can't believe that Uncle is such a...what? Character! Teacher? Friend? Hmmmm...lesson well taken. I look up and see that Sweetie is without a partner. I envision the dancefloor as Uncle's front porch and take up beside her...ready to make it fun!

    And it was. Thank you Uncle H! Cheers.
  12. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    Lesson and practica time tonight!

    Infront of me I am laying out complexity. It is a visual map of what I've learned so far in terms of steps and figures.

    The interesting thing is that most of the figures start off from the same base. It's like biology, tracing lineages. In the middle of the sheet I've drawn my two feet. Now depending on which foot the weight is on starts off different moves.

    Elsewhere in this forum, I've read that there is only a forward step, a cross in front step, a side step, a crossed behind step, and a backstep.

    Add to that pivots and I think that covers off a huge number of figures that I've learned. Anyways, I thought I'd put it all down on paper and survey the field.

    Pacing and pausing are two of the dance factors. Musicality is the third, but I'll put that down to stepping and fast vs. slow steps.

    Ok...no time to be typing...I'm switching over to drawing for the afternoon. Then practicing tonight!

    Oh, as a side note, there's a clip that I've been watching wherein I am getting a little freaked out because at the edge of the crowd, just out of view, there seems to be a figure indicating that there's some Important Concept being demonstrated by the couple on the clip. I get the message from this ghostly presence that I should watch carefully, so I do. I don't get it yet, but there's something there...I'll see if the answer comes to me sooner or later. I'll let you know what that was all about, cheers!
  13. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member


    I'm thinking about the woman's lower torso, as my B/R instructor used to say (much to the merriment of the men in the room) her "lower box", meaning the pelvic frame.

    In this particular clip I see that the man guides her hips around. And that the Woman's sidestep is where he can decide to pivot her to walk forwards or backwards. He seems very aware of which way he moves her hips so that the next step she takes is forwards or backwards. Then, either forwards or backwards, he easily pivots her mid-step to a sidestep and casually starts mullonets, but I see that it's all in being aware of which way her hips are facing and which way she is then led. To the dancefloor, I say!
  14. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    mullonets? some kind of fish isn't it?
  15. Tango-ne

    Tango-ne New Member

    Nope, it's a move where the man generally stays put as a pivot around which the woman is lead in somewhat of a box around the man, in general the woman's step pattern goes: Forward step, side step, back step, side step, repeat...At least that's the theory, as for the practice? well, I'm practicing! I'm glad to share the little tango knowledge that I have! Cheers!

    <The fish you are speaking of is the moulinette, I believe! :D>
  16. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    The step you refer to is a Molinete, or Giro. The fish is good too with mayo and buttered vegetables and Jasmine rice on the side.
  17. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    The step is more accurately 'both' rather than "or". A molinete creates a giro. (windmill...same name in jazz dance for a grapevine in a circle; giro...rotation).

    And, BTW, the fish is good with mayo, buttered vegetables and Jasmine rice on the side. [​IMG]
  18. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    nah the fish is mullet, the recipes sound good but it does help to know the difference betweeen a fish and a windmill! ;)

    a moulinette is a small mill, for grinding food.
  19. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Yes a mullonet, very common sequence in A.T.
    In Northern hemisphere they're doing it CW and in southern hemisphere CCW.
  20. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    in the southern hemisphere its a tenollum

Share This Page