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.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pet Peeve

I already did a series on the embrace:  Holds and Embraces
and Learn by Looking where the woman's left arm is discussed.
The above photo is a recent one of the ever-increasing trend for the woman to grip the man's back like there's no tomorrow, with fingers spread and her shoulder raised. I think it looks hideous--either like she's trying to touch his ass or control him. I see it more and more in the milongas, especially by foreigners and young dancers. When our students ask about it, I say it's just a fad, while hoping it's nothing more than an affected passing fancy.

The milongueros don't like it, and it looks ugly. Why do more and more women adopt this death grip?

The other night I saw a tall woman dancing with a shorter man, and I swear she could have picked his back pocket had she wanted to. Kind of a reverse take on the canyengue posture, which legend has it was used to prevent the woman from lifting the man's wallet.

Canyengue-style embrace
I know styles change in everything. When I began dancing tango in 1997, it was the custom for the woman to look to her right instead of straight ahead as now.

When Ruben dances with someone who tries to "grab his ass" (just kidding), he doesn't let her; he flexes his right shoulder until her arm rises. A woman's left arm should be soft and feminine as it rests without weight or pressure on the man's shoulders.

When teaching the embrace to beginners, I tell them to embrace each other as if they were in love. To me and to most traditional dancers, this is the tango embrace. It doesn't matter if you know the person or not, if you like them or not--it is the position to dance tango.

John y Tania

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Tango Lover's Guide to Buenos Aires

Buy on Amazon
Tango tourism is a relatively new phenomenon in Buenos Aires. When I first came in 1997, it was a rarity. We 35 or so Americans were looked on as exotic, and many milongas and milongueros didn't know what to do with us. Luckily we had an expert guide (Daniel Trenner), and for many of us on the tour, it was a life-changing experience.

Since then foreigners from the four corners of the earth have flocked to Buenos Aires to experience the "real" tango in its birth place. Every serious tanguero eventually makes the pilgrimage.

But the milongas are a hidden world. You have to know where they are, which night of the week, what time. There are no neon signs outside saying, "Tango Here Tonight!" That's part of the charm.

But sometimes foreign tangueros get lost. They don't know where, when, what milongas to attend, even if they have a list of them, even if they have all of the free tango magazines in hand.

Because it's important to know what style is danced, the age group, the ambiance, I'm surprised that more tango guides for foreign dancers have not been written. No matter what anyone claims, we all need help to figure out how to spend our time and our pesos when we visit Buenos Aires.

Migdalia Romero has written the Tango Lover's Guide to Buenos Aires: Insights and Recommendations to help the tango tourist make the most of their vacation. One thing I especially like about her book is the Table of Contents, but more importantly the Index, so helpful in finding the information you need that is buried in the middle of the book.

To help keep the information current, she publishes monthly an online guide to changes and special tango events.

Also included is information on tango shows, cultural centers, shopping, restaurants.

Another resource to add to Sally Blake's Happy Tango.