Tango Argentino > "I'm Learning Tango." And They Imagine?...

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by v22TTC, Sep 2, 2010.

  1. v22TTC

    v22TTC New Member

    OK, this is a serious question because I'm becoming increasingly beffudled - the other day I was chatting with a pretty sound stranger in the pub about learning Tango and he narrowed his eyes at me and said, "It seems like a very... brutal dance."


    Luckily, he seemed pretty amenable to accepting that it was probably just the media messing wit' his head, as I explained what it really is.

    I've also had a few women go into an accusatory 'male-dominated/patriarchal etc' ill-informed mini-lecture.

    Generally, however, the response I get is surprisingly excited and full of admiration (with wistfulness in most women), but if I ask them (nicely) what Tango means to them, they get all defensive, so I never get an answer... or rather: don't get any glimpse into their perception.

    Most will have seen 'True Lies' and 'Scent of a Woman' but will have probably forgotten them by now, won't have ever randomly checked YouTube to see what different dances actually look like... but will have watched lots, and lots, and lots of TV (and read the paper and magazines) - so their entire idea of Tango has been shaped by the mainstream media (somewhere I can't go); and not even proper Stage Tango.

    I'd really like to have some idea of what these folks actually think I'm doing (I don't specify 'Argentine Tango' because it wouldn't mean anything to them... and no reason it should really - I'm not being pompous, but am simply genuinely curious).

    My only exposure to TV-'Tango' was (on YouTube) some BBC thing with those World-Champions-who-it-turns-out-weren't-in-reality, involving three guys, two chairs, and a woman relegated to the status of a red rolled-up carpet being spun around the guys' heads, with Libertango playing in the background... tell me that's not what they think I'm doing! :shock: Though it would explain the 'brutal/patriarchal' comments....

    Obviously, I'll be grateful for any answers, but particularly in UK answers, since that's where I am... any links to 'average punter's idea of Tango' will be seriously appreciated, however media-caricaturised (the more the better, probably...).


    PS: If anybody wants to include 'The strangest response that I ever received when I told a stranger that...' anecdotes, then please feel free too!:)
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Maybe most people are thinking of the head snapping, shaking the woman style that is seen in one of the styles that we now think of as ballroom tango?

    In "Tango Our Dance" they show a non Argentinian who is teaching other non Argentinians to dance Tango, and that is precisely what he is teaching them. Can't remember the context of this sequence.

    And then there is the "Tango Face" that is always promoted by professionals.
  3. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Steve is correct in that tango of all kinds is generally promoted / thought of (by the uninformed) as some grotesque animation of sharp, tensed, fighting postures, and snarly faces. I don't know why.

    But, I am concerned about your question. I mean, I am not certain that I understand what you are asking. Are you asking non-tango dancers what they think of tango? If so... Why? If you ask someone sbout something that they know nothing of, then you can expect the types of replies that you are getting. I'll await more clarification.
  4. v22TTC

    v22TTC New Member

    I suppose my question is something like this:-

    'A small misunderstanding recently has cost me dear, including the loss of practically my entire social network; so I'm rebuilding carefully and really trying to avoid misinterpretations at all costs.

    In conversations with strangers, something that I do and love is being misinterpreted (so therefore, so am I), and since I don't have anything to do with their 'information' sources, I am at a loss as to what they're imagining/assuming about me therefore.

    Since there isn't always time to discuss, clarify and explain, they are leaving with that mistaken impression - in the spirit of forewarned is forearmed, I'd like a better idea of what they're mistakenly thinking.

    It will also give me a better idea of what new fellow-students (who haven't done any research) might be expecting from a Tango class when they first turn up (our classes having almost zero chatting time anywhere), which affects their follow, which affects my lead - without compromising my technique, maybe I could give them something a little more what they were expecting to minimise their disappointment, and increase their likelihood of returning... it's all about HER!:p'

    So yeah, I don't really have anyone else to discuss it with, as things stand currently; and I'm dying of straightforward curiosity, in addition to the above practical considerations.

    Needn't be heavy or too serious or anything....

    EDIT: Or shortform: 'When most folks hear the word Tango, they think this: <Link>' [not the soft drink].
  5. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Lots of people when they hear 'Tango" think in the lines of "Rose between the teeth", "Fishnet stockings, slit skirt, a hat", and , of course, "Dancing with the stars". Or, at best, "Por una cabeza" from "Scent of a woman".

    I do not usually tell strangers (or even some friends who I believe would not comprehend) that I dance tango. When I get to mention my dancing, and if they ask what kind of dance, I just say "social dancing" or "partner dancing". Then you can tell by people reaction how well they know the subject. Those who are not into partner dancing and uninformed usually do not continue asking questions. I guess, most of them assume "Ballroom dancing", end of story. Then they may start telling me about their dancing experience... so I do not have to dissuade them from whatever stereotypes they might have, and explain what Argentine tango really is.
  6. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    I'm sorry v22TTC. Forgive me for being a bit dense... What are you asking for an opinion on, specifically? I don't quite get it. My dinosaur brain fails me...
  7. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    I think he may be asking whether there are any positive media images out there for tango. And to answer that question - none that I can readily think of..

    Personally I do what Lilly does - emphasise that I'm "partner dancing". Gives off lots of I'm-woman-friendly / a-sociable-geezer vibes.

    If they dig deeper I often say "oh I dance tango and a bit of salsa". I suppose I tag salsa on the end in the hope that they will think "ah yes I've seen salsa - that's a fun tropical dance - oh and I guess he's got into tango because it's another Latin dance."

    Other times I just come out with it and say "yes I dance tango 99% of the time". And then go into a long speel about how it's nothing like you see on the TV and that it's a social dance and not something you do to win medals at.

    Writing this I see that I still assume that people have negative perceptions about tango. Just as well most of my friends are now tango dancers anyway ... lol ...
  8. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Why not asking in a non-tango forum, if what you want to know is what people who are not in tango think when they hear the word? Because for us when we hear the word we think "intermediate class tomorrow 20:00"
  9. ant

    ant Member

    When I mention that I do Argentinian Tango the two responses I get most are either

    - the dance of love ( I suspect after the song) or
    - what is the difference between that and ballroom tango.

    I can't ever remember getting a negetive response.

    As regards positive media images. AT is projected as the premier dance on the Uk version of Strictly Come Dancing (it is the semi final dance) and it has been used on some television adverts but I cannot remember the products as I watch television very little.

    Don't people also use it in the phrase "it takes two to tango" when talking about needing two people to do something, whether positive or negetive.
  10. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

  11. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Well yeah. I mean, why talk to muggles anyway? :D
  12. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Whatever our critiques of Strictly, and God knows I've made my share, they do their best with AT.

    For my money, Vincent and Rachel's AT, whilst hampered by weird music, was a professional-demonstration level show tango; I've seen worse in performances done by pros.

    And whilst Mark and Karen's AT was technically rubbish, it was electrifying in atmosphere.

    So yes, AT has been well promoted in the UK in the past few years.
  13. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    It's still a dance forum, I was thinking maybe a truckers forum.
  14. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I only rarely get a negative response. Not that the positive responses are anywhere near correct, but people do seem to get excited about it. Usually something along the lines of how passionate it is, how they couldn't do that with anyone other than their spouse/SO, does my husband dance, No???, how does he feel about that. THAT's where the conversation usually goes for me.

    Shrug. I just laugh and counter them. Ha! No, it's nothing like what you see on TV. That's fake, to look good instead of be good. Nothing like Scent of a Woman. Nothing like SYTYCD, or DWTS. No, not really passionate. No roses involved. Very sensual. It's different when you dance, you think of yourself and your space and the contact differently.

    I'm not convinced that anyone ever "gets it," but it's always been a conversation starter, not something that ends the interaction.
  15. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    There's a truckers forum?

    (Actually, so there are ... )
  16. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, that's more my experience as well. I've never gotten a negative response. In fact, the most frequent response has been an envious sigh with "Wow, that's so cool... I wish I could do that. I'm just not that coordinated/athletic/brave/graceful/talented/ etc" because they think I'm doing stuff like they've seen the pros do as demos on the tv shows.

    If they saw Miriam and Leonardo on Superstars of Dance, yep, they think I'm doing that. (and my response to the idea that I'd be doing that is "I'm not that coordinated/ athletic/brave/graceful/talented/etc" ;) )
  17. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    In this narrative you provided, the only thing that looked like a question was: "I'd like a better idea of what they're mistakenly thinking."

    However, you have not provided any real information that would enable any one here to answer this question. You say there has been a misunderstanding, and yet you don't say what it is. You say you have conversations with strangers, but yet you don't say what the conversations are about. You say that "something that I do and love is being misinterpreted (so therefore, so am I)", but you don't say what is being misinterpreted.

    How can one seriously comment on what someone else is (who we don't know anything about) is thinking, when we don't even know what are you talking about?
  18. v22TTC

    v22TTC New Member

    Dchester: Hahaha - fair enough!:lol: Oh, the irony....

    I was pretty tired when I typed it, and am resisting my usual urge to make every post a dry, scholarly essay, complete with footnotes and appendices - so clarity suffers (but yeah, there was still room for improvement)... and I'm sure it makes more sense when read alongside the original post, rather than in isolation?...

    Thank you for your rather blunt honesty!:)

    BTW - the general chatting with strangers is kind of:-

    'Them': "Ooh, you look all nice and dressed up! Off somewhere nice?"

    Me: "Yes, I'm going to my Tango class."

    'Them' "Ooooh!!! that's exciting/tut, so patriarchal/seems a very brutal dance." [The latter one getting me worried.]

    And the "something that I do and love is being misinterpreted (so therefore, so am I)" is Argentine Tango....

    Generally: But yeah, as always, cheers for the answers - sorry I wasn't clear (again), and I appreciate that you managed to answer my 'question/s' despite this.:D

    I'm tempted to have another crack at asking the question properly, but I'd probably die of shame - collapsing upon the dead horse I'm flogging.
  19. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    ^ As others have said, I have never received these types of responses in all of the years that have danced, and I still tell new persons almost daily that I coach/dance tango. Seems to be a local characteristic, and perhaps best avoided by simply clarifying before hand... "I dance tango... not the stereotypical, brutal or harsh thing that most persons thik of, but the real, artsy and elegant dance." That should, at least, steer further questions in a more positive and/or enlightening direction.
  20. Madahlia

    Madahlia Member

    I must admit that am quite intrigued by this comment. How could anyone's social network depend almost entirely on something as flimsy, fickle and insubstantial as a tango scene? How could outsiders' uninformed impressions make much difference to how you feel about tango? Why would the views of strangers matter so much?

    My imagination is working overtime here, patching in the gaps! Sorry, V22TC, it's the drive to people-watch in me. I'm not expecting you to fill us in on The Full Story, it's probably more fun making up my own version, anyway.

    I have never had a negative response to people hearing that I dance tango. If they are visualising me strutting away dramatically with a rose between my teeth a la Strictly, I can live with that. Most women are deeply envious even if their imaginings of fishnets, stilettoes and sultry latin lovers are not, ahem, exactly accurate. Most men show no reaction or opinion as dancing in any form does not get above their radar.

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