Tango Argentino > Sex at the Milongas

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by pygmalion, Jan 26, 2004.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Okay, guys, clue me in. While browsing the web yesterday, I found an interesting article in which the author gives a long list of do's and don'ts -- basically sexual etiquette at the milongas. It only stands to reason, she says, that, given the passionate nature of the dance, the crush of bodies and anonymity of the milongas, all sorts of sexually explicit behavior will be ignited. So she gives some suggestions on how to handle it.

    http://www.susanamiller.com.ar/editorialing.htm (scroll down to Good Treatment and Mistreat at the Milonga to see the article)

    Question: Is this real? Are milongas really the hotbed of steamy sexuality depicted in this article? And what do you do if you just want to dance?
  2. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    I know nothing of the Milongas.

    I read the column and by the way she wrote the first part of that article (the bit about women being the solitary neurotic) makes it difficult for me to put much weight in her opinions.
  3. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Another interesting link regarding the genesis of tango -- in the brothels of Argentina. (Relevant to MadamSamba's question in another thread -- men danced together because "decent" women wanted nothing to do with such a scandalous dance and its attendant culture.)
    So tango, at least historically, did have some strong associations with sex. Will google for more. :wink: :lol:
  4. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Ha! TOLD you I'd google.

    Take a look at this conversation about sexy tango dancers. Sex and tango is definitely an issue. So the question still stands. What do you do if you just want to dance? And what IS the proper sexual etiquette at a milonga? And is a practica different?

    (LOL. I'll have mercy on you and not post the thread about dancing tango in the nude! What a hoot! Apparently, not such a great idea. Something about the logistics of bodies sticking together. :lol: :lol: )

  5. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    sethe milongas

    I read Susan Miller's article and thought it was very Cosmopolitan; setting out some rather naive rules of conduct.

    I prefer the Tango Lesson approach where Pablo Veron says that they (he and Sally Potter) must sublimate their passion into the dance.

    There are women who I find very sultry to dance with, but I just enjoy it when it happens I don't try and turn it into something else. If it lasts for a tanda then its enough and I may wait three months or more before I see her again to dance with.

    Then there's sweet shop syndrome: its sometimes better to be outside looking in the window and imagining what you can buy with your pennies/dimes/pesos than to make a choice and forego all the other delights that might have been.
  6. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    :D I like the way you think, bordertangoman. I haven't done much AT, but even with ballroom tango, there's a lot to be said for sublimating the sexy/sultry. It can look and feel great, as long as you don't mistake dancing passionately for feeling love or passion for the specific dance partner of the moment.

    Just curious. Why do you say her rules of conduct are naive?
  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Come to think of it, the best tango I've ever done was a routine with a (long ago) former coach, when I was absolutely furious with him. I'm pretty mild-mannered most of the time, but when I get mad, look out! And I had a tiff with this teacher a day before our big medal ball/dance exhibition. I was so mad! And it all showed in my tango attitude. You wouldn't believe the compliments I got. It wasn't sexual (he's gay! :shock: :lol: ) but there was a lot of passion involved in that particular tango. 8)
  8. Shamby

    Shamby New Member

    I have only done a little bit of Argentine Tango but it is a sexy dance pygmalion. I like the sound of nude tango though but I can see how bodies sticking together would be a problem but not as much as the would with an oversway in a waltz. Ha ha!
  9. MadamSamba

    MadamSamba Member

    Jenn, you should definitely start that post on nude tango. It would be intriguing, especially if anyone had actually partaken in such an activity! :)

    Oh, hang on, I just remembered I'm the moderator. Forget that idea.

    Pssst: Maybe you could post a nude ballroom dancing thread in your forum? :) :)
  10. tsb

    tsb Well-Known Member

    not that i've found. i don't know why i keep going back!

    but seriously, i know nothing of buenos aires culture. maybe these rules work there and only there.

    i've heard that an effective way of putting you & your partner into the right frame of mind for tango is to pretend there's a strong mutual physical atraction between the two of you - but you've just had a rip-roarin' fight and you are so mad at each other it's taking all your strength just to remain barely civil. it works - but only when you and your partner can keep from laughing!

    but nothing bouncy - and definitely no aerials!
  11. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    Wow! There are some great things in this thread.

    IMO, Jay Rabe's account of "sexy tango dancers" comes closest to defining an ideological "feel" of the dance. The tango allows both partners to push against the defining limits of gender identity--when "male" and "female" roles are explored, it's with a sense of drama that is almost presentational in nature. Both committed and abstract.

    I didn't buy Susana Miller's articles as much, mostly because they seemed to be a little wide of the mark in addressing ideology. Swing Kitten was absolutely right, I think, in being skeptical about the account of women's identity post-Rosie the Riveter. And ideology is not self-conscious; quite to the contrary, by its very nature, ideology is unselfconscious, touching on those values we hold fast to without realizing it.

    It would seem to me that with its drama and explicit sexual representation tango is profoundly anti-ideological. Its function is to remove sexuality from the realm of the unconscious and raise it to the level of art, of an aesthetic, to lay it all out for the audience.

    That's not to say that tango can't touch on actual feelings and passions--but that those feelings and passions are so directly engaged as to make their exploration almost playful. A couple of years ago, when I was dancing at another studio, one of the instructors was telling me privately about her own powers of arousing her partner in a real tango--and she made her point by telling me a story of dancing with another instructor, who was gay, but who after dancing with her found himself embarrassingly aroused. To me, this sounded much like a line in the sand, and my immediate response was that I was certainly captain of my own ship, and that I didn't think it would be the same with me. We've never put this one to a real test.

    I was struck by Pygmalion's description of her tiff with her coach, which led to a marvellous tango--but that doesn't argue against the sexual nature of the dance, but in fact in its favor. It's largely oppositional, and may be used to look at some of those more uncomfortable aspects of sexuality we frequently try to ignore and overlook--conflict, even, perhaps violence.

    Again, it's not that tango is *actually* sex or violence, but that it allows us to "talk" about such things in the language of dance. That would make sense given the ideas advanced about its origins in brothels in the 19th century--the places where the respectable could go to talk about some of things that "polite" society tended to suppress.

    If any dances are ideological, they would have to be waltz or foxtrot, which take gender roles and naturalize them, rather than tango, which takes the same thing and theatricalizes it--the voice in the dance world that anticipates a Pirandello or a Brecht, rather than an Ibsen or a Chekhov.

    For me, what that means is that when I dance tango, I play and pretend, like some of the other folks on this board have talked about. And I will dance it with someone who is willing to play with me. It may be exactly because of the emphasis on play that so few couples take the floor when a tango comes on in a social dance setting (at least where I go to social dance).

    Well, that's something more than my two cents--but it's what this thread made me think of. I think dancing tango is something you do with a partner you really like and really trust, and someone you can play with.

    Cheers to all,

  12. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    LOL! I just saw this post. You are crazy! :lol:
  13. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member


    I don't think nude tango would be as sexy as you seem to think.

    What is sexy is not the explicit but the implicit, the tantalisingly hidden, the hinted at, the barely concealed, the simmering fire beneath the volcano, the tease, the sublimated passion!!
  14. DancePoet

    DancePoet Well-Known Member

    Bordertangoman: I was curious similarly to Pygmalion why you felt Susana's yes and no rules were naive? I wasn't sure what to make fully of what she was saying through her ideas. Yet it seemed that underlying her expression was a commonality needed through communication before action of any kind was taken beyond the sexiness of the dance. If she isn't saying this then perhaps it should be said.

    (The following items are not intended for bordertangoman only.)

    When reading the various articles I found several listed underneath the website where Susanna Miller's opinions are located. I found it interesting to read from Tom Stermitz's article, upfront on the same website, how there are various styles of Tango contained within the close embrace and milonguero catagories. I have found this to be true with American Tango. Initially I was taught a ballroom like hold, and then later in my education a hand placed on the lower to mid back hold which tends to draw the bodies closer and is more intimate. I have found the second more to my liking and much better for communication of the moves to be made, yet tend to ask regarding whether or not a partner is willing to use such a hold. It seems with Argentine Tango there would need to be a certain amount of respect shown, too, even though the nature of the dance is closer in the milonguero style. I enjoyed reading most of the articles by Susana Miller. Perhaps this is because I am relatively new to dance, and thus exploration is colored by a relative lack of knowledge and experience.

    One tangent based on reading one article: self-awareness certainly is important when dancing whether tango is the style or not, and having an awareness through communication of one's partner would be of equal importance to me.

    Also, I found the concept of nodding being customary very intriguing. Without being aware of this concept, I have found myself where I social dance, not necessarily asking a women through words for a dance. Sometimes body language does the trick whether or not the dance is a tango. My instructor seems not to appreciate this, and tends to correct me by mentioning in various ways that I should be asking her directly. Perhaps this is what is best for her, but other women have responded well to the use of body language particularly if they know me and are familiar with my style. I tend to use words more when I am less familiar with a partner.

    Also, perhaps I need to go back and reread the articles to better understand GR's post. I am intrigued by GR's writing, and need to review further when I am not quite as tired.
  15. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    That's because I was being pedantic about the use of terms like "ideology" in the article. Simple version--"ideology" as it is used most frequently in theoretical circles usually refers to a set of beliefs that are so deeply held that they seem almost unconscious assumptions. Since the tango places its representation of sexuality right on the surface, and goes over the top with it, the sexual play of the dance isn't what I would call ideological. Rather, I'd call it post-ideological.

    The article, as I remember it, used the term "ideology" simply to mean a codified set of beliefs, practices, relations. But if we use ideology in that way, then it can mean any codified relations--those that are unconscious and held to be natural and absolute as well as those that are consciously constructed and thus recognized as contingent. I prefer a more restrictive and definable use of the term because it's more useful in terms of analysis.

  16. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    I went to re-view the article but it had gone. So I can't give you a clear answer to what I was thinking at the time.What I remember is that some of us seem to need clearly defined codes, but there is also the insider outsider - codes of conduct are unwritten but commonly known to a social group. I think the article had oversimplified things and maybe was invention for its own sake. I suspect the reality is more subtle and probably more varied.

    What are the codes I dance by in the UK? ( I ask myself?)I won't force anyone into a close embrace- some people are embarrassed but this unfamiliar and intimate contact, others simply don't know how to dance this way. But I think this this confidence in offering the woman a choice leads to trust so she will dance in a close embrace if she is able.

    I had a conversation with a friend who was having a hard time with some-one who was making sexual overtures towards her which she found disgusting and repulsive. I was attracted to her myself so I asked her what the difference was between the other chap and me as I obviously wasn't creating feelings of disgust in her. She said ' you are more open and up front - he is sleazy.' It wasn't a satisfactory reply and i think it may have had more to do with him not being attractive in her eyes. Is sleaze the way you behave or are you just sleazy if the person you have sexual intentions toward doesn't find you attractive?

    Another experience is that a dance can feel sexual by small nuances; the feel of fresh perspiration on a woman's skin; a particular woman's scent; another woman's touch when she moves into the embrace. But I let these things pass when I am dancing, notice them but carry on dancing.
  17. DancePoet

    DancePoet Well-Known Member

    Well I suppose it would be helpful if I could read the same article BTM and GR have read. I'll go back to the articles on the website when I have a free moment in the next few days and see if I can find it. BTM says it is gone and that will be a bummer. I figured the one article that is up there now including Miller's yes and no (yin/yang like) questions was what was being referred to, but it sounds like I was mistaken. Oh well.

    Some interesting ideas to ponder from BTM and GR anyway!
  18. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    :)I have never danced tango in my life... still, I saw it danced and (being a passionate and hot-tempered person myself) I can relate to it...
    Sex and tango seem to be very much intertwined, as the dance itself and the many articles I've read suggested me... I have to confess I would have a big problem dancing Tango with someone I don't feel confortable to be near... I could dance it with my partner, with my boyfriend and some friends who are really close to me... or with a complete stranger (or not so stranger...) I would be attracted to... :oops: :oops: :roll:
    Otherwise, the close touch and the intimacy is too much for me...
    I am a Salsa dancer (Salsa is also sensual and sexual in many ways...) and this is how I reached the above conclusion... In Salsa, I don't particularly enjoy closeness unless I trust the person or am attracted to him... :oops: :oops:
    As far as I am concerned, I would just looooove to learn this dance...

    PS Pygmalion and Madam Samba, I don't think nude tango is a good idea... but nude waltz might... image the posture and the nudeness at the same place :roll: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
  19. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Well a friend jokingly told me that her friend, who is a good AT dancer, said that he likes AT because he can feel the woman's breasts. Then yesterday night someone mentioned that AT is as close to having sex while not having it...so I can see where this discussion is coming from. In beginner AT class there are some who don't like and won't do the close embrace. I have no problems with it, and for learning prefer it as in the more open positions I start to cheat and use my arms more. There definitely is a trust issue involved...
  20. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    Is tango sexual or sensual?

    I had a sensuous, not a sexual tango experience a few hours ago. I felt the warmth of his body as we danced. I heard his breathing. I felt his heartbeat. I smelled the scent of his cologne. I didn't let these things pass. They complemented and heightened the minutes we embraced one another, moving as one with the music. Our eyes met and no words were spoken. They weren't necessary.

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