Salsa > salsa dancers perceptions of tango

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by merci beaucoup, Apr 17, 2006.

  1. merci beaucoup

    merci beaucoup New Member

    I am trying to find ways to make argentine tango classes more popular. I've been wondering about how AT is perceived by other dancers - salsa dancers, in particular - and what factors influence folk to consider the dance (or not).

    Have you ever danced AT ? Ever considered it ? What appeals to you about AT, or conversely, why is AT not the dance for you ?

    I would be very grateful for your point of view.
  2. africana

    africana New Member

    I almost took a class. I mean I WENT to the class, a beginning class, and was waiting for it to start when I saw a couple dancing in close close close embrace

    That freaked me out because the lady was practically reclining on the lead, eyes closed, the lead almost seemed to be carrying her around. obviously he wasn't cos it looked quite smoothand both seemed very competent (beginner class my foot lol)
    But I don't like that closeness or that sort of dependence on a lead whom I don't know. I'll probably learn it someday, but I can't concieve of doing it with a non-romantic partner, also because there isn't much else to hold my attention (used to more dynamic music, con ritmo!)
  3. alemana

    alemana New Member

    ditto, can't deal because of the body contact thing. plus i tried it and the slowness with which i learned (badly) to "walk" before even "dance" was excruciating. compared to salsa, which can have you clubbing in a relatively short time.


    AT is *very* big in new york as a secondary dance for salsa folk. they learn it alongside salsa or after they've burned out on salsa. perception is: more mature, more relaxing, more sensual, more adult, less frenetic. but also like salsa, has a cult-ish following, is deeply connected to a very attractive noir-style of nightlife, insular, can be lifestyle-level commitment if you want it to be, etc. (people going to argentina to 'study' instead of going on vacation...)i think if i had a significant other i wanted to dance with semi-exclusively, tango wouldn't be a bad choice, but to do it socially.... not really my cup of tea.


    i don't really like the music, unlike salsa, so it's hard for me to really entertain the idea of getting serious about AT. i am really into 'feeling' the music if i can, and right now tango music doesn't do much for me.
  4. africana

    africana New Member

    oh yeah I slunk out of that "beginning" class right before the teacher started talking lol
  5. Big10

    Big10 Member

    I took about 8 weeks' worth of Tango (one session each week of about 90 minutes each) a few years ago -- and I'm really glad I did.:) I had already taken Salsa lessons somewhat regulary for about a year-and-a-half at that point, and I signed up for the first 4-week Tango session specifically to help me in the partnering techniques useful for Salsa (like frame and posture). However, I continued the next 4-week session because I had begun to like Tango independently! The main reason that I didn't continue beyond that was because of personal scheduling issues. I know I would have to start from scratch if I ever took Tango classes again (especially after such a long layoff), but I do still consider it from time to time.

    The Tango classes did indeed help me with partnering techniques, and there are some of those techniques that I still use in Salsa, even though I don't remember most of the Tango steps. The drawbacks for Tango (at least initially) were that the dance was slow and I did not think the music was exciting. I eventually learned to appreciate the music more. Most people who like Salsa are attracted to the energy of the music and the dance. For those of us who are single (at least for me), it is easier to get into a high-energy dance with strangers, in contrast to a slow, subtle, romantic dance like Tango. Indeed, along the lines of what a couple of other posters mentioned, it took me awhile to get used to the tight embrace that is the basis for Argentine Tango.

    Another drawback for Tango is that there are many fewer opportunities to use it socially (which is also a reason why I didn't keep up with Swing after taking lessons for about a year). I live in Houston, Texas, where we have plenty of venues for Salsa music and dancing, but limited options for Tango. So, that means it would also take much more time and money to reach the same level of proficiency in Tango, when compared to Salsa. If I lived in a city where I had a relatively equal number of options for Tango and Salsa, then I would consider Tango more.
  6. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I'm not a salsa dancer, but you seemed to be open to perceptions from other dancers as well, so...

    AT seems to put off a lot of people initially because of the close embrace, which (in my experience) puts people off it without them ever trying. Perhaps if more was shown in open/salon style to begin with that could be mitigated somewhat. Maybe there are cultural components, I don't know, and I don't want to speculate because with my ignorance of other cultures I'd have to rely on stereotypes.

    Also, as has already been said, its a lot harder to actually apply it to go out social dancing. Even though it's a "walking dance" it takes a good bit before complete newbies can go out and actually dance it, it seems. A complete beginner follower can have a bit more fun with it if she's dancing with a good lead, but this runs into another issue I have with the AT scene--it tends to be rather hierarchical.

    Perhaps the biggest stumbling block, from what I've seen, is that people have this image of AT in their head--passion, flashiness, sex...the usual rose-between-the-teeth nonsense. And then they try it, and are shown how to...walk??? So much for interesting and exciting! People seem to want to learn about the exciting leg flicks and fancy footwork.

    Then there's the music, which is old fashioned and boring. And without an easily recognizable beat. It's not "fun" the way other dances are. To a lot of people, it doesn't even LOOK like what they think of as dancing--it's just strange.

    So, that's how I've seen other people be interested, and then find it boring/discouraging. And then, with other people, they just get hooked. I don't really know what makes the difference, or how it could be made more exciting to draw and keep new people.

    I say all this as someone who knew nothing about it but decided to try it anyway...and got completely hooked. I won't go into why I love it...I've posted that in the AT forum ("First Impressions of Tango" I think was the thread title). My observations are based on the reactions of others who were excited to go with me and try it (some were ballroom dancers primarily, and some were people who had never danced) but were put off it and won't go back.
  7. Beto

    Beto Active Member

    Peaches, that explanation was very good! Thanks! I tried AT last year but the format of the classes at the venue I was going to switched from beg and int classes to intermediate only and so I couldn't hang with the intermediate and expert level tangueros at the milongas. Hardest thing I found about tango (kind of off putting too) was the man's frame being so stiff whereas coming from a salsa background I'm used to moving every part of my upper body whenever I please.

    Not to sound silly but some salseros (who do AT or have done it in the past) have said to me "well, if salsa is considered flirting then Argentine Tango is sex". Based on what I've seen at various milongas last year, I'd say that analogy isn't too far from the truth. ;)
  8. Shooshoo

    Shooshoo New Member

    Same here. Even though I love the music and moves. I took some international tango which was fine, but did it in open positions.
    Salsa is easier cause you can dance with complete strangers. AT would either be with a romantic partner or someone you know. I wouldn't feel comfortable dancing in closed position with strangers.
  9. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    I've had 2 chances to learn tango - for free as well, from one of the most prominent young milongueros in the world. (I didn't know that at the time, then I saw his faces blasted all over tango magazines, talking about his arrival to the United States and how the US tango scene was going to be turned upside down by Argentina's greatest young star). Now, I'm sad I didn't take the chance. I don't even know where the heck he is... That fool never mentioned anything about him, just passion. God, had I been a woman I would have fell in love with him.

    This guy spoke of tango like I speak of salsa. Not once did he ever mention steps, or technique. It was all about passion, a lifestyle, the crave to be engulfed by someone else's soul. Like me, he too spoke against instructors who couldn't teach but technique, stripping tango from its essence. Oh, had I been a bit wiser then...

    I jump at the chance to be in close embrace with a total stranger, one hand picked by me. She who is willing to strip her soul from her body, and allow the caress of one another’s soul. I can spot this type of dancer miles away, and the very reason my friends tell me to dance tango.

    To me tango music pulsates like a greater heart beat, every beat draws my soul closer and closer to omnipresence. The mere sight of Tango makes my soul want to pierce through my body like a butcher's knife through an apple, and leave all I am and want to be, glued all over a wooden floor and my other half. Too bad I've used many excuses not to learn it. All bad, all simply excuses, some a lack of self assurance.

    I know that I am in the minority when it comes to feelings, dancing, and music, but that doesn't deter me, as I have witnessed those that are in it for the very reasons as I.

    There is just something about seeing a couple radiating, not from flawless technique, but from a love that would make cupid look like a novice. Tango has what I feel in salsa. I’ve seen and I felt it…

    The deterrent in physically driven world that can’t allow another entity to rule along side, is that tango is slower, and closer in body contact, so it forces one to rethink feelings about our body, our self, the other person and our whereabouts. Many people, if given the time, would never force them selves in a situation to think about all those physical inhibitions our mind gives us. So they rather separate themselves from all of that and not think about sharing, not only a body, but deeper feelings, perhaps lust, passion, even love. That slower movement ought to make us breathe deeper, inhaling ever breath the world has to offer, every second of letting our soul control our existence, as the mind has way too much grip of what it truly is the self... To “unattached” ourselves the mind forces us, fooling us to think that we are lone entities, when we really aren’t. That we don’t want to face, that we don’t even want to know.

    I think tango is ok. :)
  10. genEus

    genEus New Member

    Amazing rhetoric, boriken. Actually, that is what I really wanted to say as it's also how I feel about tango, but I will be more to the points that others mentioned...

    I started out dancing Argentine Tango for a few months. Just like with Salsa, I became a fanatic, would listen to tango music, watch video clips, etc. etc. The reason why I stopped was because of scheduling conflicts and lack of a cool fun group of people of my own age.

    However, to those who said they're afraid of the close embrace and didn’t like the music...

    1. Just like in salsa you don't dance in closed position most of the time, same in tango - if you want to do anything at all interesting, like basic ochos, that’s open position (which is the same as salsa’s “closed,” but no body to body conact). Think about it, you can’t lead anything interesting when your bodies are pressed against each other. At least in our school beyond the basic walk we were always doing things in the open embrace.

    2. Yes, the older fashioned tangos are more "boring," even though you will find tons of beautiful heart clenching harmonies and dissonances in that music. But, the revival of Argentine Tango in the 21st century comes in Tango Nuevo, a much flashier dance, with contemporary tango music, played by different instruments of today’s era.

    I would love to continue dancing Tango, however the community for it where I live is weak and no new faces show up. The ones that do I find really weird for some reason. However, I can totally see myself engulfed in it if I lived in a different place or if salsa hadn’t gotten “in the way” of anything else in my life =)
  11. alemana

    alemana New Member

    yeah not so hot on the soul being pierced by the butcher knife (!) like an apple. or... yeah. that.
  12. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    It isn't the soul being pierced, but my body being pierced by my soul like a butcher's knife would to an apple...
  13. It's Wonderful

    It's Wonderful New Member

    Great post, borikensalsero. I know what you mean, tango is a transcendent dance 8)
  14. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Depends on your style of tango/skill level.:p..I've seen plenty done in close embrace...startinng with basic ochos.
  15. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Lots of overlap between salsa and AT and lindy actually... ;-)
  16. genEus

    genEus New Member

    True. I re-read my post and realized I should've clarified that it was only my observations, with little experience. But, I wanted to make the point that the close embrace is not all there is to tango and you don't stay glued to each other for the duration of the song... :)
  17. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Um…no offense, Boriken, but it’s language like that which drives me absolutely crazy when people talk about dance. Lol! I mean…

    *attempting to dodge out of reach, while frantically smacking hands away* “Dude! Keep your bloody hands off my soul! Get back! My soul—hands off! *stops mid-smack* Wait, you found a soul???”

    At least, that’s the image that pops into my mind. To be fair, those who know me well consider me unusually pragmatic and logical to a fault. I believe the word “cold” has been used on more than one occasion, but whatever. (I used to want to be a psychologist, until I realized it wasn’t a good idea. Particularly since my approach to life tends to be, “Deal with it. Or don’t. If you don’t want to deal, then you have no right to complain. If you can’t deal, there’s no decisions to be made, so move on.” It was pointed out to me that people don’t work like logic gates, and the world generally can’t be reduced to If-Then-Else statements. I’m still trying to figure out why not…)

    At least to absolute newcomers, describing the dance in those terms is a very scary thing. Hell, even to me it’s a very scary way of describing it—it makes it seem as that AT crowds out everything else and becomes an all-consuming thing. And then to bring souls into it, that almost has religious overtones. Not to mention, when people are just starting and having a hard time allowing their bodies to touch/be touched by another’s, discussion of laying bare your soul seems like way too much to handle.

    I do agree with you though, that AT can force you to stop and question a lot of what we’ve taught about ourselves, particularly our physical selves. As I mentioned before, I don’t want to speculate about other cultures, so I’ll just put it in the context of how I was raised. Simply put, I was raised that you don’t allow other people to touch you (obvious exceptions—spouses, doctors, etc.). So the idea of allowing a stranger to feel that much of my body is something which is odd—not so much to me anymore (unless I really stop to think about it), but to non-dancers in particular.

    Furthermore, as someone who’s always been very self-conscious about my body and my weight, it can be hard to accept that there’s no way I can “hide” what extra I’m carrying around. When I’m in close embrace and a gent has his arm around me, he can obviously feel that I’m a bit “squishy.” It’s embarrassing to think of someone else touching my fat. It’s a hard reality to confront. But, I love the dance, and I hope to become good enough that my ability to be an enjoyable follower outweighs consideration for how I look/feel.
  18. genEus

    genEus New Member

    Deal with it!!!

    (sorry, I couldn't resist.)

    i'm uhh... gonna go now..........<runs out>
  19. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    !!! LOL !!!

    Well, said, and I do.

    The question is, does my desire and need to dance outweigh my self-consciousness. Answer = yes. Therefore, I just kind of tamp down my feelings of discomfort and resolve to ignore them, and I do.

    I suppose another option would be to go to a gym and/or diet, but I don't like those options.
  20. thespina13

    thespina13 New Member

    boriken... you would spot me across a room in the blink of an eye. I know language like that is scary for some, but I guess it could be a cultural thing too. I have both in my family. I have a pragmatic, logical mother like Peaches, with an undercurrent of secret passion, and a father like me and who speaks much like boriken... but who has restraint that confines it. I seem to have the need to explode out of pragmatic confines and I seem to go out of my WAY to connect on a soul-to-soul level with people. I think I would devour tango.

    I actually watched some in a clip last night and was surprised to realize that I perform many of those moves regularly in salsa. It's amazing how much overlap there is. I think the slowness would be a welcome change for me (i'm nuts for bolero too...), since I relish the opportunities to sort of climb into such an aware, symbiotic realm with a partner on the dance floor. I'm not shy about moments of intense connection, so I think I would run the risk of becoming engulfed by tango. I think, right now, it's a risk I'm willing to take.

Share This Page