There is no comparison

I danced for the first time with Jose Mario about two months ago in El Maipu.  I remember how much I enjoyed a tanda with him.  I was hoping to catch his attention yesterday in Nuevo Chique.  There were only a few dancers left at 22 hs.  I was about to call it a night and change my shoes.  Then Jose Mario caught my eye and invited me for the Pugliese tanda that began with Recuerdos.  I accepted even though I don’t usually dance the Pugliese tanda.

From the second I entered his embrace, I surrendered to the music and closed my eyes.  There were no more than five couples on the floor.  I rarely close my eyes while dancing, but I let it happen naturally.  It was magical.  It was feeling, not steps.  We moved together in harmony like we’ve danced together for years.

I had danced earlier with men from Germany, Australia, and England, including a very young Argentine who has learned for two years.

The German tried to get my attention from the other side of the room, but I ignored him because he is too tall for me.  He approached my table, and I accepted.  It was the Biaggi tanda.  He started like a racehorse out of the gate with long steps.  I said, slow down.  He was dancing for himself, not for me. Later he commented, “the music has energy so you have to put energy into the dance.”  This wasn’t his first visit to Buenos Aires.  I couldn’t feel the lead from his upper body.  I had to concentrate on his steps and try to follow.  A few times I didn’t follow along because there was no lead.  He didn’t notice.  He was dancing for himself.

The Australian and I danced together at the same milonga a day after his arrival.  He invited me for the Rodriguez tanda yesterday.  [I haven’t heard this orquesta in a very long time. Thanks to Daniel Borelli, who I consider the best DJ in Buenos Aires, for including it yesterday.]  He’s here for a month to dance and take classes — two privates and eight group classes each week.  He said he’s here to learn the milonguero style.  I offered free private sessions, but he has a full agenda. It’s no wonder that he’s still thinking tango, not feeling it.

Foreigners are in a hurry; the milongueros take their time.  Foreigners focus on the steps; the milongueros focus on the woman in their embrace.  There is no comparison.  One is exercise, the other is a feeling.  If I need exercise, I go for a walk or practice Pilates.  When a man shares what he feels in the music, I melt.  And I did last night with Jose Mario.

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6 Responses to “There is no comparison”

  1. tangogeoff Says:

    Well said, Janis 😘

  2. John Says:

    Is there an element of foreigners finding “teachers” in Buenos Aires who are willing to dish-up what people think they want, for the money? I remember Tete commenting at a workshop (never one to pull punches) to some locals “if you keep dancing like this, these foreigners will return to teach you to dance Tango”.

  3. jantango Says:

    Yes, there always will be teachers who never set foot inside a milonga who are happy to take money from social dancers without giving them the skills they need at a milonga.

    That’s a wonderful quote from Tete.

  4. Felicity Says:

    That’s a lovely story about Tete.

  5. Janet Rieck Says:

    One very important aspect of dancing tango is to adapt to your partners lead…otherwise you are fighting HIM and it becomes a forced effort to control you. It really is a conversation…give and take. If you dance for yourself (only thinking of what you want to do) you will have a tough time dancing ANYWHERE. It is a mutual effort or participation. I agree with Janis. She knows when someone is dancing for themselves…something I really hate as well. In these cases you are forced to dance in a manner you don’t like..THIS IS NOT TANGO. That is why it is important to observe the floor and the dancers to find someone you can “talk to.” Tango is too special to dance alone.

  6. Patricia Says:

    Like you, Janet and Janis, I like to observe the floor and be selective in the cabeceo. It normally pays off. But, occasionally I get it wrong. The man I thought I could “talk with”, really dances for himself. So, I put up with it for the tanda (unless it’s totally intolerable), and ensure that I don’t look in his direction again.

    However, some women don’t get tango either. Some women complain to me about certain men. Yet they continue to accept those men’s invitations to dance. These ladies prefer a bad dance over no dance at all. That’s their choice, of course. But they are letting the side down. While men are getting to dance with most ladies of their choosing, they are unlikely to realise that what they are doing IS NOT TANGO. These men have no incentive to reflect and perhaps change their ways, for everyone’s benefit.

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