Tango Argentino > At what age did you begin learning Argentine tango?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by jantango, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Isn't the usual assertion that it deepens the appreciation of the dance? I'm not sure that I can see how, though. I'm more likely to relate to the steaks.
    Mr 4 styles and Bailamosdance like this.
  2. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    and all hustle dancers MUST visit new york

    all salsa dancers MUST visit cuba

    all paso dancers MUST go see a bullfight

    meh.. maybe ...maybe not

    ( have done all that ohh and danced tango in BA:))

    sooo true and the prices are fantastic!!!!
    Bailamosdance likes this.
  3. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    Top dancers are not tied to a region, city or style.
    Mr 4 styles likes this.
  4. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    very true
  5. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    It can. But as I've said in another post, not necessarily; it all depends on what you're going to be looking for. Some people go there and don't 'grok' it at all (I know a couple who would've rubbed jantango really the wrong way if she'd met them there, and no, they didn't grok it).

    BTW, they're going to show quite a nice documentary (with some people I know and love) in Brussels:
    If it ever comes your way, don't miss it.
  6. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    When I danced hustle, I took lessons with somebody from New York.
    I dance salsa sometimes. I would love to go to Cuba.
  7. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think this is a difficult question, and i don't really have an answer for myself. For one i think there is no such thing as a unified BA tango culture - different milongas have vastly different audiences - if i claim cachirulo as my favourite milonga, of if jan tells us that hers is lo de celia somebody from BA will immediately draw pretty elaborate conclusions about our style preferences, skill levels, ages, if we are tourists or argentineans, if we are more likely to be single or in a relationship and a whole lot of other things just based on this information. When people talk about meeting the same people everywhere it shows that they have found a specific layer of BA dance that they are comfortable in, and that they keep moving mostly within that layer.
    Additionally there is a pretty noticable surface tension to the milongas here - in my experience what a milonga looks like when you go there first, and what it looks like after you have gone there for 6 weeks or so, and the host starts to know you, and you get "your" seat is vastly different. There are a lot of bad dancers in BA, and a lot of people who only go to milongas to sell (or get) something. This can be to some extent avoided by going with somebody who already knows the places, but then you are in _their_ layer of BA tango, which might not actually be the one you yourself would enjoy experiencing.

    On the other hand there are certain things that one can experience in BA that i have not experienced to the same extent anywhere else. The first one, and the one that is driving me to defend the codigos and the "way they do it in BA" and the mirada/cabeceo/whatever we want to call it whenever this comes up is that milongas in BA _work_. It is difficult to describe what that actually means, but when you enter a milonga you get the feeling of "this is right. people are happy here". It is similar to how a good pub feels - sure, you can feed yourself anywhere, but when the bartender, and the guests behave right it is magic. And i am somewhat convinced that what makes BA milongas work is the codes.
    Then there are (obviously) a lot of good dancers in BA - both foreigners and argentineans, and more importantly they are good social dancers.

    I learned/am learning a lot when i spend time in BA, but i am also pretty sure that these things can also be learned somewhere else if we are looking for them. I think one of the reasons that people are so enthusiastic about their BA experiences is that no matter what their preconceptions of tango are BA will cater to them.

    pygmalion likes this.
  8. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I actually think they are - they are a few extraordinary people at the very top of their game who dance everything equally well, but i would not look at chicho as an exemplar of inner city BA stye, or (the sadly missed) tete as somebody who would be exciting on stage at a tango show (though he was a ham, he might actually pull it off). There are a lot of attributes that transfer, but a lot of them that don't. I don't think this is true for any dance, really - while i would expect a top casino dancer to do great on a dancefloor in LA i don't think people would think for a second that he was a great example of LA style. Or when looking at ballroom -based on old videos i have seen i am relatively sure that top dancers from 50 years ago would not do too well on a modern competition floor (and probably the ones from 50 years in the future wouldn't either).

    There is a big grey area where movement principles and fashions become just out of synch enough that you get a bit of creaking and moaning when you try to do things there.

    I think it is one of the dangers when taking workshops/privates by a lot of different people for short times each - without an understanding of the nuances of how much especially the top dancers have honed very specific mechanical principles, and how the fit/don't fit with other mechanical prinicples one can end up with a very muddled collection of moves that work with very specific set ups without actually understanding the principles they are based on. At least that was what happened to me in the beginning. Looking back it is easy to see everything as highlighting different aspects, but i think it is not possible to highlight all aspects at the same time, and most people will gravitiate to refining some aspects more that others - i have not seen a single tango dancer - even among the ones that i consider the very best - where i would not be able to tell what aspect of the dance is their favourite - and this is usually very much tied to the fashions in a region, city or style.

    Mladenac likes this.
  9. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    How many of you speak Spanish on a daily basis to Argentines and attend milongas where all the dancers are Argentine?

    That is why one is immersed in the culture of tango ONLY in Buenos Aires.

    This morning a milonguero friend who provides transportation to and from the airport for tango tourists took me to Ezeiza to pick up my son for his business trip. While we were waiting in the car, he naturally had the radio tuned to tango. He asked, what orchestra is it? I answered and was correct. He was as pleased that I knew. Then another orchestra, and I named it. The milongueros asked me years ago, and I had to learn to identify the distinct styles of each one. This is common when dancing with milongueros viejos in Buenos Aires milongas. They love and respect the music so much.


    And by the way, I'll be broiling a steak tonight for my son.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  10. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    may i suggest grilling instead:cool:

    Perfectly Grilled Steak

    Recipe courtesy of Bobby Flay for Food Network Magazine
    [​IMG]Photo: Perfectly Grilled Steak Recipe
    Rated 4 stars out of 5

    Total Time:
    30 min
    15 min
    15 min
    4 servings

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2017
  11. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    To answer the question: 0

    I would like to visit someday, though it has become less urgent. And I don't think I would spend all the time at the milongas, I like to explore countries I visit and see different aspects of the culture. Another reason not to spend all the time at the milongas: my wife. She really likes dancing apilado... but really doesn't like traditional tango music. I've given it some time to sink in, and she still dislikes it. She goes to the traditional milongas in our area mostly to humor me. When we practice, she'd much rather dance to hip hop, R&B, club, etc. I'm not sure if there are any milongas in BsAs that would cater to that combination. ;)
    Bailamosdance likes this.
  12. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    @Mr4S -- The recipe left out the part where you dry the steaks with paper towels. Important.
    Mr 4 styles likes this.
  13. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Funnily enough my argentinean food obsession is neither steak, nor media lunas or ice-cream - it is the apples baked in wine you get perfectly done everywhere - from the tiny parilla places to the elegant spanish restaurants. And for some reason this dessert does not seem to exist anywhere else besides in BA. I can get empanadas here, argentinean style steak, morcipan, whatever - but none of the argentine restaurants here has those apples.

  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Not trying to be difficult, but I've gotta be me. What I hear you saying is that the typical tango tourist doesn't stay long enough to get an authentic tango experience.
    Subliminal likes this.
  15. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Hmm, i wouldn't word it that strongly. It is more that i doubt that there is real, certified "authentic tango experience" - there are lots of different tango experiences, and some of them the typical tango tourist (most likely) won't get.
    It is like my favourite restaurant - we go there at least once a month, and when we get there the owner/chef will usually come and chat a bit, and tell us what produce/meat/fish she is really happy about, and often suggest something we should order, and what she suggests we should order is often neither on the menu, or on the specials, but just something she thinks would be a great dish for that specific ingredient. Do i have a different experience than somebody who comes in the first time? Of course. Is it more authentic or representative of the restaurant? I don't really think so.

    Let me give an example: I am a leader, and over all the years i have danced with 2 followers that i consider "milongueras viejas". There are very few of them - widowers returned to the milongas when their spouses died, widows didn't. In both cases it was in the middle of winter, in comparatively empty milongas, very few other tourists, in places i had been going for a while. In both cases i learned in a single tanda more about how and why apilado/social tango in general works than in years before and after. Even a lot of very good followers have not danced in the golden age and seen the very best followers back then, and at best they have learned from a leader who danced then, and they don't have "it" in the same way. I don't think i would have had that opportunity if i had not been lucky, and i don't think this will happen a third time.
    Now i think this was an amazing tango experience, and that i am richer for having experienced it, and i don't think it would have happened if i had been on there for 1 week, danced at 2 milongas every night and another one in the afternoon, and left again, but was it neccessary to experience a what BA milongas are like? I don't think so. In some ways the first week i ever was in BA, when i went to the "wrong" milongas, sat a lot, watched a lot, and got most of my dances with other tourists i learned most about just how beautifully a BA milonga, and the style they dance there, no matter what it is, works. I still make a point to go at least once or twice to an afternoon milonga at the confiteria ideal - and it is not because the dancing or the pastries are so great, but because it reminds me of the very first time i was there (and because i think it is funny watch the reactions when i answer "confiteria ideal" when i get asked on the dancefloor what other milongas i go to :) )

    sixela likes this.
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate your thoughtful posts.

    I can relate to what (I think) you're saying. I remember years ago, when I was young and hot-headed. I went to a train the trainer seminar for "women's issues in the workplace." Everyone there, men and women, were asked to ask one question of the opposite sex. My question was, "What IS the woman's experience?" If I'd been older and wiser, I'd have STATED, "There is no one woman's experience. Every woman has a different experience, even if there are commonalities."

    I think I get it, and I do so appreciate your measured comments.

    What I don't get is why there are some (not you. Never heard anything like this from you.) who seem to think that there is only one true tango experience. What if you hadn't happened to be in the milongas on those afternoons and had never met those milongueras from the Golden Age? What if you'd never moved to BsAs at all? Would that have made your tango experience less valid somehow?

    The more I listen and read, the more I come to think that maybe a relationship with tango can be like any other intimate relationship -- weird, quirky, unique, but as long as it works for the characters involved, it works. :cool:
    sixela likes this.
  17. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Just to avoid claiming more experience with BA that i have: I have never moved there - i just managed to convince my job to allow me to do semi-sabbatical/semi-work off site quarters, but i think visiting a city even for several months at a time is very different than moving there. If I know the date I am going to leave again, and (maybe more importantly) my income is in US$, I still am a tourist, just an extended one.

    And to be honest i think it would have made my tango experience less - it really influenced me a lot. But then i could say the same about my first teacher, and other teachers, and festivals, and some milongas i attended when travelling where the only language we had in common was tango. But i try to keep in mind that these are my experiences, and not only am i not able to repeat them, they are even less something that other people can repeat. I compare it to the experience we all have with beginning dancers - it seems impossible to actually convey the things we think are important, but instead the same crooked paths from crazy enthusiasm, over figure collecting, over hero worship of some teacher or performer to a more relaxed relationship with the whole thing and an emphasis on musicality and the embrace (in whatever form) gets repeated over and over again. If somebody asks me how to do a backwards saccada i can tell them, but deep down i think it is useless - when they are ready the saccada will appear in their vocabulary almost by itseld, and while they are not ready it will not really work, no matter how hard they practice it as a move. I think what i experienced in BA was similar - i was "ready" to get a new perspective on tango, and i got it. I am pretty sure that i probably would have gotten the same new perspective in some workshop, or at a festival, or just at a milonga somehwere. It is just easier to think that we get these ideas because we are in BA, and not that we are in BA because we are getting these ideas.

    I think we shouldn't have a relationship with tango - we like to pretend to, but what we really have is relationships with other tango dancers, and with ourselves, and with some abstract thing like happiness or beauty, and our tangos are either barriers or bridges in these relationships. I used to almost angry/disappointed at people i danced with when i felt they did not get tango, or did not work hard enough on their relationship with it, and i still sometimes think that for the kind of relationships they are looking for they would be happier in salsa, or ballroom, just the same way that i dabbled in those dances and realized they were not for me. I am working hard on acting on the idea that as soon as i put my relationship with tango above my relationship with the person i am dancing with i am doing something wrong. I am much less successful than i want to be at this in real life, but it is easy to at least pretend to be a good person on the internet ;).

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  18. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    More profound food for thought. Thank you. :)
  19. LoveTango

    LoveTango Member

    I started learning tango when I was 45. I attended other dance classes for exercise, but tango got me hooked.
    I am married with a young child. It is not easy to attend evening classes because of the family. Late night milonga work better for me in terms of time. My learning experience would be a mixture of:
    - some small number of classes/ workshops: which got me started and prepared me somewhat for the practicas
    - practicas / milongas: where I dance with leaders of all levels and learn from dancing with them. Some of the advanced leaders have been my mentors and cheer leaders.
    - reading: one of the first is Tango Chaos. I read this book ( online) before I stepped into my first milonga. It is very beneficial for me. I think it helped me appreciate good dances, became aware of the importance of posture and techniques, so that I was able to learn a lot from observing during my wallflower days.
    - pre-milonga lessons: besides learning something new, the benefits were mostly in getting to know people who would dance with me for a Tanda or two later.
    - leading woman friends: at practicas, there were often more women. Being a beginner, not pretty nor young, I would not have much chance to dance if not leading. Practicing leading helped in many ways. I can sense how leaders feel from various follower problems.
    - private lessons: I could not afford many, but My dance improved a lot from the few lessons. I also benefit from dance with great leaders. I really appreciate them. This is why I try to attend beginner practice after I become more experienced. I think one can improve a lot from dancing with advanced. On the other hand, it is more demanding to dance with beginners. Practicing with people from different level and style helps us to be better dancer.

    I forgot to mention that Dance Forum has been a good resource for me. It got me closer to tango when I was not able to go out. The friends here shared their wisdom when I was puzzled and when I was feeling low after a disappointing experience at a milonga. Many of you are more than willing to share your insights gained through many years of dancing. I am grateful to the Argentine tango community at the Dance Forum.
  20. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Don't want you to think I didn't hear this. I did. Just don't know what to say, yet. Might not know any time soon. Very thought provoking.

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