Background reading for this post is The Dark Side, and Of Milongueros y Milongueras on The Tango Jungle.
Tango pastel by Vera Berv
When dancers contact us about planning their tango time in Buenos Aires, I often ask them about their goals for this particular trip. Is it to improve their tango, work on something special such as milonga con traspie or leading skills, dance as much as possible, or just have fun dancing?
I'm quite often surprised that the person doesn't know or has to think about it for a while. Or sometimes they don't want to say.
For serious tango students, working with a teaching couple such as Ruben and myself is a huge advantage for lots of reasons, but also because it's all professional and a safe environment for learning. There are no dreams of hanky panky or cases of misunderstanding the intimate embrace or hope for a vacation romance on either side, and the tango classes go forward "strickly dancing."
Other types of students, perhaps unbeknownst even to themselves, prefer to take private lessons with one person of the opposite sex (preferably "attractive.") Whether or not the teacher gives good instruction is less important than being in their arms alone in a studio where fantasy can flourish. I know of many teachers who take advantage of the student-teacher relationship for their own reasons: sex, money, nights on the town, a trip. Male and female instructors can be guilty of this hidden agenda. If these extras are also what the student is looking to pay for, then everyone is happy.
Such relationships can occur in any country with any discipline from tennis to physical training to piano to ballet. But the tango is particularly vulnerable because of the embrace. For those of us not used to it, it can knock our socks off. Our fantasies flow freely. We can even imagine we are in love.
Sometimes our students talk to us about men and women they've met in the milongas, and all we ever say is, just have fun but don't make any long-range plans.