Tango Argentino > Tango snobs...

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by milongadicto, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. milongadicto

    milongadicto New Member

    There are plenty of stories, fictitious or not, in which a character ends up becoming the person he despises at the start. Napoleon, the leading pig of Orwell's famed allegory novel Animal Farm, leads a revolt against the human masters, but by the end of the novel has become just like them, learning how to walk, sleeping on beds in rooms, and even socializing with humans. Lately, I feel a lot like Napoleon. Although I've always had a bit of snob in me (remarking to El Ingeniero at a milonga how watching a certain couple dance makes my eyes bleed - so he already knows I'm a snob, and Dr Agsol Rac probably does too...- and previously having had a reputation among beginning tangueras that I'm standoffish, hard to please, picky, arrogant, and thus difficult to dance with because they are concerned of whether I approve - none of which, I admit, is entirely false-), it's never been full blown out as it seems nowadays. My previous rather acidic and hateful post about milonga pet peeves only begins to scratch the surface.

    I used to despise those people at the milonga, the ones who act as though they hold the mysterious, magical way to tango, and brush off all others not belonging to the 'clique of the illuminated' as being mere wannabes. I think there were two major turning points to my transformation to who, what I am today at a milonga. At the local festival a few months ago, I was assigned as an interpreter for Javier Rodriguez and Andrea Missé. My perception of the whole experience, from the dance, the music, the little details, and interacting in the community, was completely shaken up, and has been evolving since. The second major turning point was starting to DJ regularly at milongas. From then on I have become an incredibly judgmental *******.

    At milongas where I'm not DJing, I'm sitting there listening, looking, and only dance if and only if several conditions are met: I like the music at the beginning of the tanda (I am developing a taste for the non-rhythmic music... it is rare that I dance to Rodriguez or Biagi, let alone D'Arienzo... but don't worry, I will still play enough of it when I'm DJing), I feel the energy, I spot a suitable tanguera (considering all aspects: does she have her shoes on? have I danced with her before? does this Tanturi-Campos tanda seem to be in congruence with her personality as I know her and with her mood today? Yes, I'm a prick), and I achieve cabeceo with her. Otherwise, I watch and praise some dancers while I grimace in contempt of others. If I do get to dance, I am exceedingly irritated when somebody does not follow the line of dance, and I make it as clear as possible without actually explicitly telling him and proceeding to pick a fist fight (no, I haven't gotten to that point yet... I would probably get banned from the milonga venues). I often am judging far more experienced DJs for recycling tandas or having mediocre tandas where the mood is all over the place. Next thing I know, I'll be rejecting every tanguera that verbally asks me to dance, even if she's a close friend and a great dancer. This would be very Javier Rodriguez, but he can do it because he's THE Javier Rodriguez.

    Why is this happening? Is this wrong? I don't know the answers to these questions. But I think the more one gets into a hobby, the more you get a (false?) sense of entitlement, and that's where the snobbishness comes from. I used to be a 'just do it' kind of person at milongas, regardless of Buenos Aires códigos or expectations to abide by the local community customs. Now I suddenly am much more difficult to deal with in a bizarre way. Maybe nowadays I think much more about tango than I did before now that I am more involved in it. The thought of taking a break from this hobby (because that's what it is for me... for now) has crossed my mind, but it's like an alcoholic in front of an open bar told not to drink. During the World Cup, I did take a 'break', but it was mostly because the game schedule conflicted with milonga schedule, as well as to circumvent some tanguera drama. Even then, I listened to tango music all day and practiced tango walking around the apartment, much to the confused amusement of my brother. So basically, once you're in deep enough, you start acting strange and you can't quit it... I remember I asked a tanguera about what the hell was up with that guy at a milonga who is a major snob and acts like a judgmental dick (who does this remind you of?... surprise--> nowadays I get along with him). She just shrugged her shoulders and said: "he loves tango too much". I love tango. Maybe that's why.

    Originally posted on my blog: http://milongaparatres.blogspot.com

    I want to know people's perspectives from here since the blog doesn't get that much traffic...
  2. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Nothing wrong, I'd be like this if I had the nerves to say 'no' when invited by ladies with whom I don't want to dance. A beginner leader will scan for beginner followers and dance on crystal-clear music, an advanced leader will scan for advanced followers and dance on difficult music. The only problem is the beginner followers scanning for advanced leaders.
    Plus you're a DJ and an interpreter, which gives you a certain status, and people will expect you to be picky.
  3. Madahlia

    Madahlia Member

    Hmmm, not only a self-confessed snob but a name-dropper as well, probably not much hope for you. (Thinks, should I know who the hell they are? Probably.......Oh well.)

    Seriously, I really enjoyed your funny and self-deprecating post - it was a brave confession.

    Can you still be a snob if you know you're a snob? Are you still a snob if you really are superior to the people around you or only if you believe you are?

    It seems to me that we all have to recognise differences from others in our personal levels of achievement, both upwards and downwards, and somehow come to terms with it. There is no point in excessive pride or excessive humility.

    If you have worked hard to develop your talent then that is something to be justifiably proud of - with a few provisos. You should remember how hard the journey was for you and give some help to others who are not as advanced on that journey as you. (Feel free to pick the most deserving cases.) Pay back effort that others made on your behalf on the way up. Don't use your skill and knowledge to put others down. Even if general social dancing is not to your taste compensate for your unwillingness by being polite, pleasant and non-patronising to the lower orders. Give up the grimacing and negative-remarking at milongas - people will know from your expression and body-language what you're up to and it will only reinforce unproductive thinking in yourself.

    I would be interested in hearing more about this and in what divides one level of achievement from another, if that is what you are referring to?
  4. milongadicto

    milongadicto New Member

    I wouldn't call referring to my fellow bloggers, for the same blog, I may add, name-dropping. As for Javier and Andrea, I don't claim to be close friends to them or anything, not that it would grant me a special status or anything. I agreed to be the interpreter because I'm comfortable with the languages to be dealt with, and to get free milonga passes since I'm broke. Point is that the whole experience turned out to be way more than I expected it to be. I think you're probably joking, but I don't really get British humo(u)r, and sarcasm/tongue in cheek isn't easy to see through internet. Just clarifying anyway.
    But thanks for your input. An organizer asked me if I wanted to organize a práctica at his venue, but I was initially reluctant since I don't know the first thing about organizing tango events. Now that you say it, maybe I will do it as a way to paying back the efforts others made for me before... I promise I'll try not to teach them my snobbery
  5. Madahlia

    Madahlia Member

    Yes, sorry, I was joking, or at least teasing you a little bit - the joke is partly on me if I'm ignorant of who these people are!
  6. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    It's as simple as this. You are what you are, until you stop doing the things that make you that way. If you don't want to be a snob (which is what it sounds like to me), then you'll have to figure out how to stop doing some of the things that snobs do, and/or, start doing some of the things that snobs don't do.

    My advice, try to dance with a beginner or two at every milonga, (and try really hard to make her enjoy it). Occasionally, dance with ladies who ask you. Also, try to find someone you've never danced with before, and ask her to dance.

    To be honest, this transformation that you've gone through, doesn't sound very attractive or desirable (but maybe that's just me). It's sounds like you're enjoying tango less. If this is so, then you'll need to figure out what the emotional aspects of this transformation that changed you, and figure out how to get your emotional state back to where it was (or at least at a better place than it is now).

    Of course, it's quite possible that I'm not understanding the true essence of what you are saying, and thus my opinions may be worth less than the two cents they usually are.

    The bottom line is that you are in charge of who you are. Become who you really want to be.
  7. little hobo

    little hobo New Member

    It doesn't sound like there's been any transformation.

    You've just changed who you're judgemental about.
  8. milongadicto

    milongadicto New Member

    dchester, that's the thing... What I do on the surface hasn't changed much. I just try to stick to the códigos more strictly, but if somebody asks me to dance, complete beginner or ultra advanced, I will dance with her and I will do my best to act the same to a not so good dancer as I would to a good one. It's what's beneath the surface, the snob underneath that kind of flows out in not so obvious ways. It's what I think. And no matter what I do, no matter how nice the things I do are, if I'm being judgmental under the surface, that's what I am, a hypocritical snob. Bare in mind, I share this here because of the anonymity, I haven't openly discussed this other than my closest tango friends. So I have no idea if I do come across like that, or if people don't sense I have changed. Also bare in mind that I moved twice since one of the anecdotes where I tell fellow blogger El Ingeniero that my eyes hurt, for reasons unrelated to tango... so maybe community members can't see if I have changed since they don't know me that well to begin with.
    Also another possibility occurred to me... Maybe the more you get into tango, the more you become porteño, who are notoriously arrogant and selfish?
    I don't know... what's clear right now is that I can't see things clearly, ironically. So I'll let this steep a little while to gather my thoughts.
  9. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    Funnily enough I have recently discovered your blog - so there's one more reader for you...

    DJing can do funny things to you. For a start, you're evaluating the music rather than just dancing to the next tune that comes along. Second, the more you learn about the music, the more you think to yourself "I like this composer or that composer and want to dance to it with this or that person". Rather than just being an omnivore and enjoying dancing to everything.

    Maybe the best thing is to divide milongas into a) ones where you are there to DJ and b) ones where you are there to dance. Switch off your critical brain when you're dancing. It's what I attempt to do anyway. I also try not to fiddle with playlists once I've set them out. This whole "decide on the fly" thing is just not something I agree with - it keeps your critical brain engaged and stops you enjoying the actual milonga.

    Otherwise ... it's OK to be a little snobby. You are there to enjoy yourself after all - not be a taxi dancer...
  10. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    OK, I think I misunderstood your original post.

    Everyone has bad thoughts, but it's your actions that define you, not your thoughts. You're not a snob if you're not doing what snobs do (despite what thoughts may come into your head). The fact that you know there's something wrong with it, gives evidence that you may not be the snob that you suspect you might be.

    There still does seem to be an issue with your enjoyment of tango that's worth exploring, though. If you dance with beginners and are able to give them an enjoyable dance, there's nothing wrong with finding a way to take satisfaction in it, even if she didn't give you the greatest dance. Just make sure you get in some dances with the best people you can find, as well.

  11. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    As a follower I can tell you dchester's advice is very good and reasonable. And I tell you this because your apparent attitude (as dchester said you may have thoughts, but it's the whether you may carry them out that counts) sounds so dangerously like my other half who
    has "a reputation among beginning tangueras that I'm standoffish, hard to please, picky, arrogant, and thus difficult to dance with because they are concerned of whether I approve"

    ...that you may in the end, end up offending more than "just" beginners. Word gets around, and ladies can tell if you do have that attitude and it won't be long before it will be more than beginners whom you include in your critique and the ladies may end up avoiding you as well.

    It all comes back around one day.
  12. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    It's amazing how little I've found any need to know who The Tango Gods are. I'm not sure why some tango people have a compulsion to name-drop either.
  13. Madahlia

    Madahlia Member

    The Tango Gods of BsAs have very little relevance to my life. I'm as likely to be over-influenced by the Big Fish that swim in my small pond as anyone else, though.
  14. v22TTC

    v22TTC New Member

    Milongadicto: I always find it amusing that 'all opinions are equal... but some more equal than others' - even the most 'egalitarian' folks tend to find 'snobbishness' outrageous.... That's hypocrisy (well, paradox more properly...), rather than feeling one thing and doing another: Which is simply life, as a social being (however much you may not want to be, you're stuck with it...).

    It's the tension between what you'd like to do and actually do do - and why - that shapes you as a human being: it can be a hard, hard path, especially if the gap between those two things is great; but it's the only path in town. [As tends to be the case when people say such things, they're actually speaking to themselves, as I am too, in this case, as it happens....]

    I think it unlikely that you'd be shaped by a culture that you hadn't had significant, direct, exposure to: I know nothing of your life but unless you've spent a great deal of time in Buenos Aires (particularly when young), you'll more likely be conforming to a simulation (in the Baudrillard sense) of being a Porteño than the real thing... it smacked of being a cop-out, a little.

    S'ppose the two things that you have to balance are:-

    1 Ethics - since 'just be nice' doesn't seem to be cutting it for you (and there's absolutely no reason why it should!), a more academic study might be more beneficial [Kant's Categorical Imperative probably has most of what you need here];

    2 Hunger for 'authenticity' (always a precious commodity in these Postmodernist times!..). OK, some folks always go 'too far' in their hobbies, 'giving their hobby a bad name' etc - buuut: Tango is also very, very, very much art. Artists are supposed to be hyper-passionate, perfectionistic screw-ups (and, in fact, aren't worth much as artists if they aren't), so you can cut yourself a little slack there - and if you can project the 'artist' persona (rather than 'stuck-up, name-dropping nobhead' persona <razz>), then others may also cut you that slack.

    That will help to narrow the dissonance between feel-think and do, in a not-too socially-disastrous way... but you'd best be really, really good at Tango before you start trying any of that!

    I hope you find your 'answer' (of course there won't actually be one, other than some least-unsatisfactory awkward compromise), appreciate your honesty, and genuinely wish you the best.
  15. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I believe that Javier was Geraldine Rojas partner, wasn't he? So, not just a tango god of BA. More like one of the "names" that people typically link with someone else when they are searching You Tube videos or talking about famous people's style, or famous partnerships.

    Or not so famous I guess if people haven't heard of him

    Disclaimer: I've never met any of these people. I'm not name dropping, just name clarifying.
  16. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    If this statement is true:

    a reputation among beginning tangueras that I'm standoffish, hard to please, picky, arrogant, and thus difficult to dance with because they are concerned of whether I approve - none of which, I admit, is entirely false-), it's never been full blown out as it seems nowadays.

    then he's gone beyond just thoughts, and he is exhibiting behaviors that have encouraged this reputation. Obviously, if the thoughts were staying nicely tucked away in his head, followers wouldn't feel this way.

    I'd say in general, both your thoughts AND your actions define you... you don't get a pass just because you smile at someone you are internally smirking over.

    I'd also say that if he already has this reputation among followers (and I agree with Bastet, that the reputation will spread beyond just beginners who might be insecure.) then his actions are affecting him (and those around him) negatively just as his thoughts might.

    If you agree to dance with someone, that person should not have to spend the entire dance worrying about whether they "measure up". See thread on "what followers want", but I feel this is important for both leaders and followers.

    If you dance with someone, put your energy into THEIR good time, not into judging whether they are giving YOU one or whether they measure up to your standards.
  17. v22TTC

    v22TTC New Member

    Yeah, I should also clarify: my post was more about your off-dancefloor persona: I always take it is read that a dance itself is a contract with cast-iron rules, and pristine and sacrosanct - existing on a separate plane, with no baggage allowed (I forget that other people don't view it as I do...).

    Snobbishness (to your partner) on the dancefloor constitutes a broken promise/oath; and yeah, there're all kinds of despicable hells reserved for that kind of transgression [well, I hope so anyway...].
  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I can relate to much of what you write, because in many ways I have the same thoughts.
    The more we learn about something, the more discerning we become.

    (Something of a tangent here as an example. The Lion King was in town about a month ago. I'm going to Africa for a second time, and, although I've seen the film, a production in Orlando, etc, I went to see this production. Although someone in my office gave high praise, my reaction was more subduded. Someone called me on it, and it's simple. I've seem many live musicals, etc. over the years. This production of The Lion King was one of many. If you have never been to something like this, it's much more impressive.)

    The more we dance with others, the more we know what pleases us, and what doesn't. Why should you expect yourself to not act on /react to your own knowledge and preferences?

    On the other hand people sometimes take "Argentine Tango" SOOOO seriously. As someone who was learning a new dance, and what turned out to be basic skills that would/could serve me well in other dances, I took it seriously.

    Snob - 1. One who is convinced of and flaunts one's social superiority. 2. One who despises one's inferiors and whose condecension arises from social or intellectual pretension.

    If you know for a fact that people are dancing without regard to the music, is there any pretension invovlved?

    What seems to upset people, though is when you verbalize your thoughts / observations.
    I've learned to pretty much keep my mouth shut, and try to not look at couples that are out of time with the music (my eyes bleed if I do!).

    How do you feel about milonga?
    Do you dance "canyenge" ever?
    For me, those are the fun things about AT.
    Maybe if you set aside some time for just having fun with your dancing?
    Then maybe you will begin to accept that not everyone will be as serious or knowledgeable about AT as you are. And you'll be OK with it.
  19. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member


    But no matter how good someone is, there is still someone else (possibly many someone elses) much better. Even if there are people at your local milonga who are can easily be criticized, would you want really great dancers showing up at your milonga and internally (or externally) smirking over how much you're doing badly?

    I don't have much patience with people who blatantly ignore the LOD or do other things that create havoc, danger or injury. But there's a big difference between being critical of practices that actually affect everyone and being critical of people's dance ability.

    I truly believe that everyone is doing their best. Sitting on the sides critiquing others or insisting on only dancing with people at or above one's own level is pretty selfish. None of us got where we are by ourselves. People who were above us danced with us and were generous, encouraging partners who allowed us to have fun and feel good about our development.

    A respected and well liked teacher attended a milonga here after the workshops, and I am told (I didn't go) that he danced with EVERY follower present at some point in the evening. Now THAT'S generous!

    Does someone need to spend the whole evening dancing with beginners? No. Does everyone have a responsibility to "pay it forward" as they improve? Absolutely.
  20. Madahlia

    Madahlia Member

    Apparently not; I hope he doesn't lose sleep over the uncountable millions who haven't heard of him! I'm pleased to announce that I have heard of Geraldine Rojas but might well fail to recognise her if I passed her in Tesco's. Perhaps my tango progress might be faster if I'd spent many hours minutely studying her style on YouTube videos.

    Absolutely. I don't see the point in acquiring skill, judgement, sensitivity, discernment or experience if they are then supposed to count for nothing and not make any difference to you.

    If I dance with someone who has considerably less skill then myself I can't fail to notice it and it will affect my enjoyment of the actual dance. Most of us delight in a skilled partner, and see it as an ultimate pleasure of the whole activity of dancing, don't we?

    However, the thing that makes a less-skilled dancer into a snob is how harshly we judge the less-skilled person, and whether a positive attitude is shown to other elements of the experience, which might include simple fun, sociability, helping others, etc.

    So at my own pathetic little level (a medium-sized fish in a goldfish bowl, say) I would have to say I share some of the same feelings as Milongadicto (who may be as a leviathan in a mighty ocean for all I know); however, I have to be aware that as I view others, so others view me. I fail to see the point in working to get the ability to discern between varying qualities and then not exercising it. But it still doesn't excuse us from also exercising human virtues of humility and kindness.

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