Tango Argentino > Macho and cultural differences.

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by bordertangoman, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    " in Spanish, "macho" doesn't mean arrogant or exaggerated, it just means, "masculine." It's English and anglo-saxon society that has made it a negative term.

    "I too believe tango is a conversation--but not between 2 girlfriends, or mother and son, or 2 buddies from work--but between a man and a woman. Her femininity speaks as loudly as his masculinity, and together they create something wonderful and new (well ok, if I use the analogy of a baby that's pretty corny and extreme, but you see what I'm getting at.)

    I don't at all feel dominated and submissive when I dance; I feel an equal partner in my feminine way--I don't need to "compete" with my partner, because we are doing different things, equally important.

    I sure don't want to assume the "masculine" role of leading on the dance floor, because dancing for me is a break from all the decision-making and life choices and traffic handling that I do all the rest of the time.

    I like the conversation to be a flirtation, a meeting of different energies, which say, "Let's see where the music will take us!"

    Are us gringos ever going to dance tango convincingly if we dont accept more masculine/feminine roles? (Discuss)
  2. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    How does this all translate if the Leader is a woman? (especially if she is leading a man)
  3. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    You'll obviously have to stop leading then : it's "unnatural" :rolleyes:

    I think it's more a case of taking of embracing your role than being "macho" isnt it?

    Anyway we all know there is a type of female macho. If I can divert for a moment into song (tra la la!) :

    And there's times I think I see you
    When I find that kind of face
    When a woman's independance
    Has kept a woman's grace
    Where confidence and pride
    Refuse to know their place
    Or hide behind the easy tricks of beauty


    From the Cuillins tae the Carolinas
    Strong women rule us all
    With the courage that they call
    When the tears refuse to fall
    From their eyes
    (Brian MacNeill , "Strong Women Rule us All")
  4. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member


    Cor, that's nice.
  5. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Like an Argentine teacher once told me, "Just Be The Man".
  6. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    i Dont suppose women lead in Bs As outside of gay clubs, but I could be wrong.

    To rephrase an aphorism
    "In front of any great milongeuro stands a great tanguera"
  7. Me

    Me New Member

    That's a pretty loaded question, and I think offensive as well. I know you play it tongue in cheek but this one crossed the line. :confused:
  8. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Hahaha. When I started to lead, I very soon discovered, to my surprise, that it had absolutely nothing to do with being dominant.

    Fortunately for all of us, there are many ways of being a man and being a woman. After all, women are men like anybody else (and the opposite is true, too :) ).
    Whose who learn both how to lead and follow in tango ( personally, I think its indispensable while learning a partner dance), eventually find out that those roles and goals are basically the same -- to connect with the partner, with the music, and move as one.
    That's said, the cultural differences do exist, and affect how people learn and interact in a context of tango. But in my opinion they go way beyond gender stereotypes.
  9. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Apparently they do. Even straight ones.

    All this "macho", "be a man" stuff I don't agree with. What, to my mind, tops them all is (to your follower) to be kind, sensitive, intuitive and sympathetic. Followed by: connection, techique, good signal etc. And now I'm heading into Deja Vu terrority.
  10. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    There are many a good male dancer that only dances the lead and many a good lady that only dances as the Follower. It isn't about embracing or accepting the role of one's opposite. You hear the music and you dance. Basta. There are places outside the milonga that cater for those who need to get in touch with the inner Y or X. :rolleyes:
  11. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    I have anecdotal evidence of some Totnes ladies being very popular amongst the Argentine women after they had done a bit of leading. They did ask permission before they started showing their stuff though. *sigh* Wish I could be as good a leader as them.

    My personal take on it is that you have to be assertive and willing take risks (such as asking a woman to dance). It's about knowing your worth. Telling guys to be macho is fairly complete shorthand for this, although it does have other connotations too, like trying too hard and posturing.
  12. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    .. Yes I agree ... it's a shame we have to use the word "macho" rather than "being a gentleman" - but the latter has become so watered down and made suspect these days that it doesnt have the force I think it used to.

    As far as asking someone for a dance goes, I'd say, hide behind any label you like. If it helps you get over being rejected, so much the better!
  13. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    The next post in that thread was interesting as well. In addition to "macho" having a different connotation, also the term "surrender", has a different spin as well.

    I agree with Cherie - I think the word "macho" is widely misunderstood in modern non-latin society.

    Macho, to me, means manly. masculine. Like I said in my last post. I like to feel cared for by a strong manly man in tango - I like to be the princess and he gets to be my knight in shining armor.
    I like to be the woman and I like him to be the man.

    I don't feel that that's submissive. When I say I "submit" I mean that I "surrender" myself. entrega - essential in tango.

    I like that you mentioned conversation - in real like talk, I am a big chatter box. I have to work really hard to make sure I don't dominate conversations. It's a big challenge. I can yap yap yap away if I'm not careful.

    So the nice thing about Tango for me, is that it's the one time where I can metaphorically "shut my mouth" and let the other person talk.

    Of course I get to respond (with my body) but it really means a lot to me to let the man lead and have a slightly more active role than me. It's not that I'm not active, but I must admit that I do like to be slightly passive (slightly). It's been great for me, psychologically. Teaches me about conversations since I do tend to take over.
  14. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    Interesting remark by the way - I wasnt aware of many of them being leaders. Apart from the tall bird that is. I'll have to keep an eye out...
  15. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    its tongue in cheek but its a serious question. I think there are some very fine women leaders out there who dance as well as any man, but I think in this particular (uk) culture some men struggle with the dance because of more broader social and cultural identity issues, and perhaps the more alpha males in society arent going to take up dancing in the first place.

    Why do you find it offensive?
  16. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Well - I was sort of brought up in an Italian cultural environment, though my parents were merely Italian - Welsh - Jewish - English.

    I was the teenager that could chat up women without out having to get drunk. .. (this is 35 years ago) everyone thought I was gay of course.

    Some things never change.
  17. Me

    Me New Member

    The whole "Americans don't dance real tango and have sexuality issues" thing just gets very, very old. I can see from your follow-up that you did not mean gringo in the traditional sense... What group are you addressing when you say gringo? I am assuming at this point you mean Non-Argentines?

    The gender argument has me a bit baffled as well. Can you be more specific? Are you talking about assigning gender to the role of lead and follow... to quality of movement... to behavior at a milonga... behavior in the classroom... behavior before signing up for classes?
  18. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I was told that when Argentines talk to each other (with respect to Tango), they don't use the terms leader and follower, but rather they use the terms man and woman. Has anyone else heard this? (I'm never sure how much of what different people tell me is true).
  19. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    I don't know about Argentina but in Sicily they would not be able to comprehend the concept of female leader. . . . unless of course she was gay.

    Northern European culture is different from Southern Europe, women are encouraged to be much more assertive - this actually goes back 1,000's of years. (the reports of the Arab Ambassador to the Spanish Caliph from Ireland makes fascinating reading - if only because the same cultural differences still exist)

    The thing here is that in Latin society, being a strong dance leader with a strong 'sexual' presence is what makes an alpha male, that's what 'Machismo' is - in Northern Europe its the emotional control that prevents any expression of sexuality that makes an alpha male.
  20. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I have read this repeatedly at another tango discussion site.
    Language in the US began being neutered beginning in the 60s. It went along with "women's liberation" and the goal of making women equal to men.
    Waiter/waitress server
    mailman postal carrier

    Books into the 70s including "Encyclopedia of Social Dance" form the 70s lists the parts of the "Gentleman" and the "Lady" for Western Swing, and the "Girl's Part".
    This language, along with refernces to "gay" dances, meaning the pre "Gay Liberation" meaning, are strandard usage.

    In "Tango Bar" (1980s?) they speak of dancing the woman's part (If memory serves correctly) when men practice together so that they can dance with the women.

    I think the English language, where nouns have no gender, is particularly suited to nuetered language.

    And regarding cultural differences in gender related issues...
    I can't help but recall the Maasia women in a boma on the Serengeti gently guiding a female tourist away from the men and their jumping Adumu dance, to the more sedate shuffling dance that the women were doing.

    I will agree with those who have observed that most women who lead look like women who are leading. Some, however, do have the same energy, assertiveness, etc, that we would label as masculine. Size seems to be an important element. Indeed, the physical (and perhaps psychological as well?) differences between men and women is where the whole thing started, and why it's unlikely to completely go away no matter if we call people leads and follows rather than men and women.

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