After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Proof of Tango Addiction, If Proof Were Necessary

A Passion for Tango Turns Bedroom to Closet, New York Times, Feb. 29, 2004

This is old news, and when I sent it to a friend in L.A., she wrote back, Oh yeah, that article was on the bulletin board at Comme Il Faut when we went together a couple of years ago. Somehow I was busier looking at the shoes than the clippings, and I missed it until now. I've seen this lady dancing in the milongas here in Buenos Aires, and she always is wearing a different fantastic outfit, and she looks great.

But, to quote myself in a previous post :

Without seeing you dance, experienced tangueros can tell by looking at you what level your dancing is at. The First Stage is the eager and naïve beginner, who wears what he happens to find in his closet. Then comes the Second Stage, the full-blown, Look at me, I am a tango dancer! who buys lots of special shoes and clothes--men black shirts, women beads, sequins and fringe, short skirts with high slits--attempting to dance every dance at every milonga. The Third Stage experienced dancer dresses conservatively with elegance and dances only when he or she chooses to, letting the dancing speak and not the clothing.

Here is someone who got carried away more by the wardrobe possibilities than perhaps the dance. And she got stuck in the Second Stage to the extreme of turning her apartment into a closet. Perhaps by now she has scaled down and has reached the Third Stage.

But if not, that's ok too. I remember when I was bellydancing, I hated the whole hour it would take me to put on my fall and make myself up before a performance. What I loved was the dance, and I resented time spent on "the look," even though in bellydancing "the look" is 50%. But many of my bellydancing friends loved that half of it, loved to spend time on making themselves look good and changing their appearance. Actually, it was pretty amazing that an all-American girl could disappear into the bathroom and an hour later come out as a harem odalisque. Some of them told me that the beautifying ritual was the main reason they loved bellydancing.

And I think that sometimes that's true in tango as well. People can fall in love with being tango dancers, with buying sexy tango shoes, and enough slit skirts to fill a new closet. (With men it can manifest itself in two-toned shoes and white scarves.) A dance doesn't exist in a vacuum, especially bellydance and tango, which arose from profound cultures. You can fall in love with the culture as well.

There are many ways to be a tango addict.


caroline said...

Absolutely. the focus should be on tango, not on how many shoes one has or worse, assuming that scarves with fringes tied around the hips is standard costume. Everytime I sse a woman overdosing on fringe, I just want to rip them off her clothes and ask her what the hell is she thinking?

Some of the best dancers I've seen dress modestly but with elegance. No absurd collection of skirts with slits up to here, fishnet stockings and the flashiest shoes with the highest thinnest heels.

Like you, actually. I think how you dress is just perfect for milongas. Very ladylike.

Cherie said...

Why thankyou, Caroline.

But I AM guilty of the flashy stiletos! (Only because they help me to dance better!!)

Actually, the truth is that since I've been dancing with Ruben, and because he dances with his whole body, I've changed my style somewhat.

I also have a rolling rack on my porch full of Betsey Johnsons that I'm selling--because now I prefer skirts that move!

I have to say though that I've never been guilty of wearing fringe, sequins or beads. But high slits definitely when I was in Stage 2, but they are long gone.
Oh wait, there might be still a couple left for sale on my rolling rack!

miss tango in her eyes said...

I love fishnets!
They are the most practical of the hose. You don´t need to worry about runs they rarely snag and best of all no worries about needing to shave your legs if you are feeling lazy!

Cherie said...

Miss Tango, you are right about fishnets, or as a tanguero friend from L.A. calls them, "man nets."

But I learned a trick to wearing them: your legs look even more fantastic if you wear fishnets over nude panty hose! And it's not more uncomfortable either.

Thao Nguyen said...

I'm reading your blog right now and I love it! Especially your story on tango addiction - poignant, beautiful, passionate, honest and funny. And the story of the beautiful milonguero reminds me of a dancer I know here. I've been doing salsa and have just started tango. But I'm well on my way to addiction, and loving every minute of it. I remember when I first started salsa I seemed to get my salsa fixes a lot more easily than now when i've been dancing for a while. That seems to be the stage that I'm at with tango. I think that's one of the beauty of being a beginner, blissful ignorance.