Tango Argentino > BsAs syndrome

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Mladenac, Jan 25, 2011.

  1. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Oh it's no sacred cow, but I see no reason to adopt an understood
    Argentine term and re-purpose it in order to acquire some credence
    seemingly for marketing and promotional reasons.

    No I obviously don't dance with leaders and, since you don't lead
    as far as I know, your opinion will be different to mine. I have danced
    alongside some leaders from Europe, and watched and seen video.
    Nor do the people behind the so-called "Milonguero" festivals teach
    nor dance in BsAs style.

    If that's dancing give me BsAs style dance of the rhythm and
    the music every time.

    It depends which side of the dance you are on.

    Same answer I've not given Andreas. You can work it out.

    Actually all of this travelling circus - oops sorry, festival - is rather sad.
    You mean we have to travel thousands of miles all around Europe to get
    a decent dance experience? I actually think it would be rather sad to
    have to keep travelling to Buenos Aires for a decent tango experience
    but if that was the only alternative, BsAs would win every time.

    What we should be trying to achieve is the social tango experience
    of a dance to the music and a wide variety of dance skills mixing
    empathatically on the dance floor. Regrettably I don't expect that
    to happen widely anytime soon. But there are places.

    If I didn't contradict, I didn't intend to contradict.
    I thought it was clear already . . . . . . . that it was a comparison
    based on personal experience, of both. Just as yours is but from
    another perspective.

    To be clear, I haven't pretended that Buenos Aires milongas are perfect,
    nor are all the dancers. It is a social dance after all and that alone implies
    a wide range of skill. You are advocating a self-selecting super-tier of
    travelling tangueros/as (I refuse to use milongueros/as) for Europeans
    attending so-called festivals, I am not.
    sixela likes this.
  2. Hard to know where to begin...

    This will take a few posts, sorry if it gets boring. First of all, I feel compelled to finally write because there have been a few instances lately where people who either never went to an "encuentro milonguero", or who obviously felt overwhelmed because they themselves can't really dance all that well, commented negatively in public about these events.
    Not that most encuentros still need any publicity at all (most are booked out within a few days after bookings open), but still I think it can't go unanswered all the time.

    Let me make a few observations. I suppose most people know that joke about the guy driving on the motorway when the guy on the radio warns of a car going in the wrong direction, and the driver mutters "One? Hundreds!"

    At a recent encuentro, someone complained to me about the cliquishness he observed. I asked him: "Have you tried to actually talk to anyone?" He said no. Nuff said.

    A few years ago my partner Lynn and I ran a few milongas in Plymouth, as usual expecting people to respect the codes, including proper floorcraft of course. After the milonga, one guy complained about the bad floorcraft. He was the only one (because actually, the floorcraft was more or less ok). And also, he had been the one who had once stepped backwards against the ronda, heavily, on Lynn's foot. Without noticing, of course.
    At Les Cigales 2010, a guy ranted to me about what he thought was bad floorcraft all around him. During the previous tanda, he had almost run me off the floor (without noticing, you get the picture...)
    Which goes to show that the bumpee often actually is the bumper.

    So if people complain about the ronda or generally the floorcraft at a milonguero festival, I check two things quickly: can he/she dance; and does he/she complain about everything else, too? The answers are usually no and yes, in that order.

    This just to put things into perspective. And John, sorry again for the bad experience you had with your lunch at Abrazos.
  3. For those not familiar with so-called "encuentros milongueros", let me try and say a few words about how I see them.

    This type of festival was created because there was a need for them. No matter where you live (outside of Buenos Aires), there will only be a handful of dancers, and very few milongas, which are geared towards observing the codigos. In most milongas, traditional dancers have to live with quite a bit of compromise: figure skaters on the floor, non-tango music, no cortinas, open embrace performance-style dancing, and so on.

    It was therefore only a matter of time until like-minded dancers whose focus in tango is on the embrace get together and organise events which don't compromise, and which try to capture some of the spirit of the traditional milongas of Buenos Aires. Most of the regulars of the encuentros are also BsAs regulars.

    Here is what we wrote on the website for Abrazos last year:

    "The Concept of Abrazos

    The vision behind Abrazos is the culture and cultivation of the embrace.

    We are taking our cue from a specific kind of festival in continental Europe. These are usually labelled "milonguero" in some way, and that relates not to a narrowly defined, specific style but to a social tango in the tradition of that danced by the milongueros of Buenos Aires. This kind of tango is centered on the embrace, is danced in a ronda with others who feel equally strongly about tango, and respects the milonga codes.

    "Encuentros Milongueros" are notable for the genuine enjoyment and joyful sharing of embraces to be seen and experienced. People are happy and relaxed and no one feels the need to show off.

    We'd love you to join us at Abrazos if you are happy to follow the codes and share the dance floor with your fellow tangueros in a respectful and friendly manner. This is not an event for "neotango" dancers, for people who want to perform open hold show moves in the middle of the floor, or for people who want to dance to non-tango music. Ganchos and other kicks are frowned upon.

    If you love Golden Age tango music and want to share that delight through your embrace, you will be most welcome."
  4. Dear John,

    you say "Nor do the people behind the so-called "Milonguero" festivals teach
    nor dance in BsAs style."

    I would like to know what you mean by "BsAs style".

    Maybe you could point out what these organisers are doing wrong:

    (You need to precede these with the youtube URL, sorry for the inconvenience, but I can't post proper links)

    Marcel, who co-organises Les Cigales, and spends more time in BsAs than in France:

    ... /watch?v=6quOSntDe80

    Paule, who co-organises Les Cigales, dancing with an encuentro regular at her "second home" Cachirulo:

    ... /watch?v=qLBktHbuMhY

    Philippe and Renata, co-organisers of Les Cigales:

    ... /watch?v=4RP9xkB9A4Y

    Detlef and Melina, co-organisers of Festivalito con Amigos:

    ... /watch?v=UouJhbJ9mxU

    Alexis Quezada, co-organiser of Abrazame:

    ... /watch?v=36D0YWvFS-Q&feature=fvst

    Antonio (from Buenos Aires) and Francesca, organisers of Montecatini Terme Festival:

    ... /watch?v=OBak21_ICOU

    Celine, organiser of Pasionaria Milonguera, and me (co-organiser of Abrazos):

    ... /watch?v=CGEdkpiW2ng

    And finally, here a vid of the last tanda at Abrazame 2011:

    ... /watch?v=93aB2Orq72k

  5. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Andreas, I'd tried to avoid personalising this.
    Referring to your first post my comments were to express a different
    perspective to the initial rather partisan post on this topic.
    My opinion is of no less value though you may not like it.

    My experience of lessons and dancing with dancers who have learned
    with them, watching and dancing on the same floors, confirms that.

    This has been discussed earlier. You can research - there's
    plenty of evidence, after all I prepared for Buenos Aires by
    avoiding such "Encuentro Milonguero" teaching and practicing
    dancing with selected partners in a different way.

    I think not. My views already appear.

    But as you are being so challenging and dismissive of a different opinion
    I will make one additional comment about something you will never
    see happen in Buenos Aires. That was when one of your luminaries
    sat feet up on two front seats of your reserved hierarchical tables
    and to then to have a foot massage in full view at the Sunday milonga.
  6. gyb

    gyb Member

    types of tango-events in Europe

    Maybe a discussion of this worths a new thread, but just for those who are unfamiliar with the European scene it might be worthwhile to clarify that there are at least three distinct type of regular non-locally sustained tango events in Europe:

    - tango festivals: they have workshop classes by popular teachers, milongas (maybe even a longer one dubbed "marathon" to steal some of the charm of tango-marathons), and maybe some additional social events.

    - tango marathons: no workshops/classes, but more than 2 days of almost continuous dancing.

    - encuentro milongueros: they are similar to tango festivals, but they explicitly target the close embrace crowd.
  7. John,

    Not exactly sure what you mean by "personalising", but ok. I wanted some specifics, which is why I asked if you had actually been to any encuentros. You were talking in the plural, turns out you came to Abrazos, and this was you hinting at it in a slightly veiled manner.


    "Referring to your first post my comments were to express a different
    perspective to the initial rather partisan post on this topic.
    My opinion is of no less value though you may not like it."

    Temza's opinion got challenged, so did yours. Same difference.
    I don't know why you would characterise her post as "partisan".
    I do have a slight problem with your opinion if it is not based on what you claim it is based on, i.e. experience of so-called milonguero festivals. Note the plural. That's why I asked. (Just recently a well-known commenter (banned here, I think) dismissed the encuentros as inferior. He has never been to any.)
    If you didn't like Abrazos, that's ok, and I will probably answer some of the points you made in your original reply to Temza at some later point (I am in the midst of spring-cleaning right now...).
    Sorry if I sound abrupt, I am just being German.


    "My experience of lessons and dancing with dancers who have learned
    with them, watching and dancing on the same floors, confirms that."

    It boggles my mind that Antonio Martinez, who until very recently lived and danced in Buenos Aires, does not dance "Buenos Aires style tango".
    Whatever that is.
    And interestingly, to blow my own horn if you allow, several of my students have been praised by portenos for their dancing, especially their embrace. But what do they know?


    "This has been discussed earlier. You can research - there's
    plenty of evidence, after all I prepared for Buenos Aires by
    avoiding such "Encuentro Milonguero" teaching and practicing
    dancing with selected partners in a different way."

    Maybe someone can point me to the relevant thread?


    "But as you are being so challenging and dismissive of a different opinion
    I will make one additional comment about something you will never
    see happen in Buenos Aires. That was when one of your luminaries
    sat feet up on two front seats of your reserved hierarchical tables
    and to then to have a foot massage in full view at the Sunday milonga."

    It feels good actually to be chided, for once, for not being "traditional enough". Normally people call me a tango fascist, or just recently a tango taliban. We trads are often accused of never allowing any fun...
    If you had been to other encuentros you might have been forewarned that on the last day, during the last hour or so people tend to let their hair down and engage in some craziness. During the last hour of the next Abrazos, people will see at least one person dancing the last few tandas in flip-flops.
    As for the "reserved hierarchical tables", now we are getting to the truth of the matter, aren't we? The whole "elitism" complaint spiel again...
    We had tables reserved for the people who were working plus their friends because we thought it nice for them to be able to find seats together easily after they had worked for a few hours and then came to a milonga already going for a time. We thought it would be, you know, polite and considerate.
  8. @gyb:
    One could say that encuentros are like marathons, but aimed at the close embrace crowd. Most have no workshops.
  9. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Anyone else have anything to share about Buenos Aires syndrome?
  10. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    And, what again is it, exactly?
  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    from the OP
  12. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    An alternative definition of BsAs syndrome could be the susceptibility to feelings of anxiety and stress induced by the members of our local peer groups, when everything that we say, do and dance is measured (and commented upon) by reference to the standards and practices prevailing in another place (or, even more likely, in another place, and at another time).

    From where I sit, in cold, draughty, UK, the BsAs Summer is a very, very, long way away, and if I want to dance tango around here, the only scene that should matter is the local one, and the only codes of behaviour that are worthy of note are the local ones. It is useful, perhaps, to have some awareness of other scenes, but it's definitely an optional extra.

    I was at a well-attended milonga, last week, (miles away from home - there just isn't any tango around here) and everyone was dancing in the line of dance and keeping things small (there were lots of people and not much room). There was just one couple, dancing BIG, and progressing around at twice the rate of everyone else, constantly changing lanes, constantly overtaking (even when there was nowhere to go), and generally being complete idiots. He wore a pony-tail - I might have known - and he turned out to be a teacher from out-of-area, whose claim to fame is that he teaches (and dances) in VU style: straight from BsAs. Ha ha! I don't think so. If he ever came to one of my milongas, I'd invite him not to come back (and suggest that he wash his hair, before making an appointment at the barbers).
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I think that same guy was at Lo de Celia when I was there. Yes, he stood out. But not in a good way. Man he gets around. Or, just maybe, there is more than one of him!
  14. chanchan

    chanchan Member

    I guess that if you think you can dance VU, you should be able to go to the Sunderland club, in the VU barrio, and have at least a bunch of nice dances with regulars. Otherwise such claim seems a non-sense to me.
    At the same way, if you dance milonguero I suppose you can go in places like Lo de Celia or Milonga de los Consagrados and enjoy that dancing, and if you dance nuevo you should be able to dance at La Viruta or Villa Malcom.
    You don't have to be the best, but at least have a confimation that you are dancing the same dance, that you speak the same "language"... otherwise, you can dance however you want, that's clear, but what's the point of calling it that way?

    I noticed that most teachers that claims to teach VU or nuevo (including some argetinian teachers) actually teach something which has little or nothing to do with BsAs social dance styles: they just teach something that local people find appealing. The consequence is that their students will probably be appreciated in the local scene, but when they go to BsAs they are rejected, for the simple reason that they dance something totally different from what they are supposed to dance.
    This is, according to me, the reason of the of the BsAs syndrome.
    The best teachers that I've found didn't claim to teach any specific style, they simply called it "argentine tango".
  15. chanchan

    chanchan Member

    You are perfectly right, if you don't claim to dance anything else than UK argentine tango.
  16. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I simply call it Argentine Tango, too. Dance is a universal language, and I have no interest in dancing someone else's dance: I have enough trouble with my own.
  17. chanchan

    chanchan Member

    But if you are teaching a local, regional dialect and you don't even care if it has somehing to do with the dance that comes form argentine, what's the point of calling it Argentine Tango? It could easly generate some misunderstanding and disappointments.
    If you are interested to learn/dance/teach a language that you think is universal, it's quite strange that you don't care if it allows you to comunicate with someone out of your local comunity.
  18. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Even without specifics, my opinion has validity.
    An opinion based purely on your marketing would also be valid.
    You didn't turn away my booking made on the basis of your

    Initially it was to give a different and lone leader's view,
    very different to Temza's follower-in-a-couple experience.
    The sharp tone has come about as a result of her challenge.
    And your view is even more partisan as the promoter.
    You're a promoter, you should expect it. Events of all kinds get criticised
    by attendees, mainly in private between themselves. Perhaps instead
    of criticising the critic, you should respond rather more positively.
    We're in a muddle here.
    Steve Pastor (and myself) is talking about the social dance as typically
    and predominantly danced at Lo de Celia and many other places including
    El Arranque, Leonesa/Consagrados, Nuevo Chique etc, all in central BsAs.
    Lo de Celia is the most consistent, other vary rather more. Above all the
    dance adjusts to the space available but the dance continues.

    If you want to argue the point that yours and others of your persuasion
    does similarly, please feel free and I will offer an opposing view of that
    again from the point of a lone leader who has no "fame".

    I've had all the "Muy Bien"s, and "Lindo"s too. Assessing their worth
    needs rather more than just hearing the words, welcome though they
    may be. Just don't let them go to your head.
    Well there was no forewarning, and the "party" was the preserve of the
    elite in the reserved seats. The rest of us went (and had paid) to dance.
    If the organisers and helpers want a closing party, have it after the formal
    close. I go to another weekend where that happens and everyone gets
    a chance to relax and dance what they like.

    You can put whatever spin you like on it. First you dismiss my opinion
    because it isn't based on a wide enough experience, now you dismiss
    it despite being based on a specific experience. But that doesn't alter
    the impression your organisation created.

    People are people and their behaviour was predictable, natural even.
    You created an elite clique on half of one side of the hall and made barren
    the other facing side as cabaceo there was pointless.

    By the way I have no idea what you mean by the "whole "elitism"
    complaint", other than to assume I am not alone in this observation.
    It isn't a surprise nor unexpected and some can not be avoided.
    Some teachers in tango seem to acquire "groupies" or people
    who follow and admire them. I admire most those teachers who,
    by their actions, do their best to dispel such fawning adulation.
    sixela likes this.
  19. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Unlike some dancers, I don't travel widely and it is unlikely that I will ever visit BsAs. My tango IS local, which is not to say that I recognise your caricature of dancing some local regional dialect.

    I would suggest that there are bigger 'dialect' differences between the central BsAs Milongas and those in of the northern barrios centred around VU than there are anywhere in the UK. Pop over the river to Montevideo and I'm sure I expect that things change again. But everyone is dancing tango, each in their own way, and the idea that I would be dancing anything but Argentine Tango, outside Argentina (like just over the border, or perhaps on completely the other side of the world) is just daft.

    If you want me to entertain your premise even half seriously, you will have to come clean and properly define this 'authentic dance'. I assume that you mean that there is a standardised homogeneous tango danced throughout the rather large country of Argentina, and that everyone within its borders would agree what it is, and every serious dancer, outside, also knows, and perhaps chooses to corrupt or adapt the dance to local requirements (there being some). I think you'll struggle with that one, as it is perfectly clear that agreement couldn't be reached across two city blocks, let alone around the world.

    For me, tango is a way of dancing. It isn't an historical reenactment activity, nor is it slavish adherence to Latin custom, culture, dress, geography or any other part of the whole marketing roadshow. Some people make a hobby of adopting aspects of the lifestyle that they associate with the dance - and it is harmless and I wouldn't want to stop them. They vie with each other to see who can organise the 'latest' Milonga, and turn up over half way through (to make the better entrance), and they swop empanada recipes, talk dreadful Spanglish, but some of us just laugh at such behaviour. We had our tea at 6 o'clock, and went dancing as soon as we had walked the whippet.

    Some of us are even daring enough to dance Samba without having ever been to Brazil, or Rumba without having been to Cuba or Salsa without having Eddie Torres' fax number. I have been to Blackpool, mind you, and my 'English' Ballroom is quite good. I've seen the best - and I can tell you, they are clean living types who go to bed at a sensible time.

    Perhaps I should try Finnish Tango. I doubt it's as full of bullshit. ;)

    PS If a visiting porteña came to my next milonga and found that she couldn't communicate with me, or anyone else in the room, I'd just assume that she couldn't actually dance very well.
  20. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Near enough to reality as to not need comment.
    You exaggerate for effect I'm sure.
    To an argentine as far as I can tell, tango is almost any way of dancing
    as long as it's tango music that's being danced. It's the observers, the
    choreographers, the academics and the commercial interests which
    seem to define the styles and attach the labels.

    Social tango (of tango music) is expected to adapt to the often crowded
    conditions and that's when the move monsters really stand out as
    nuisances. Of course everyone has preferences in the way they dance
    and the women have preferences of which men they prefer to dance with.
    The more you dance here (in BsAs) the more adaptable you can become
    as long as you are dancing with a wide range of partners.

    We would be better in the UK if teachers, instead of teaching their own
    stereotypical style, taught people actually how to dance. I have hopes
    you might be different.

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