Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Still looking for "The Embrace" - Milongueros and Milongueras

Armed with an effulgent, glittering notion of what "The Embrace" would look and feel like from lessons with local instructors, the internet, or by word o' mouth - many lovely tangueras and tangueros all over the world travel to - where else, Buenos Aires! - to look for it. After all, the Milongas of Buenos Aires are supposed to be as close as you can get to "Tango Heaven" on Earth - and the Milongueros and Milongueras are no less than "Tango Angels".

So why do comments from returning "Turistas" make it seem that a visit to Buenos Aires is just like a descent into "The Octagon"?:

"Take that! Norteamericano!"

“I’m NEVER going dance with any of the old guys again – they held on to me so tightly I couldn’t even breathe!”

“Sure I’ve danced with a Milonguero – he was gripping my right hand so hard he almost broke my wrist!”

“What’s so special about Milongueras? They are heavy as hell and they can't follow anything I lead!”

“Milongueros!?! Some of the worst dances I’ve had were with Milongueros!”

"Die, die! Turista, die!"

Dear Turista: Complain if you must, but contrary to what you may be deceiving yourself to think - the Milongueros and Milongueras of Buenos Aires are really, truly "Tango Angels". They haven't spent 50+ years of their lives dancing tango for nothing - do you really think that their embrace, musicality and all-in-all entrega of Tango are not the very best on this planet? Give me a break.

If tango with the true Milongueros and Milongueras feels like Fight Night at the Ultimate Fighting Championship - sadly, oh so sadly, you only have YOURSELF to blame.

Please consider the following:

Are you even sure you are really dancing with a Milonguero/Milonguera? In your excitement about dancing with "anyone, oh just about anyone, please!" - did you even care to check how your potential partners are dancing before you accepted that "Cabaceo of the Excruciatingly Painful Joint Lock"?

In fact, are you sure that the "Tango" you think you are dancing is the same "Tango" that is habitually danced by the Milongueros/Milongueras? It's fine and dandy to be facilely to be "executing" expert moves with your regular partner or with anyone who has taken the same classes with your local "Tango Guru", attended "Cosmotango", or perhaps have watched the same "Tango Campeonato Mundial" videos on Youtube - but are you sure you are really leading, really following, or (gasp, horror!) just merely doing CHOREOGRAPHY masquerading as IMPROVISATION? Because as common sense may divine, the Milongueros/Milongueras have no idea what the hell that you, your teacher, your community or your internet source have choreographed - and they are neither going to lead nor follow the same, predictable steps that you and the hordes like you have so expertly programmed yourself to do.

Some tips and pointers for Followers:

1. Stop that frenzied wriggling! Your attempts to "exhibit" your hard-earned skills of adornation and "women's technique" are misguided - you impress no-one. Can you really blame the Milonguero for holding onto your possessed, writhing, head-spinning and ectoplasm-spewing Linda Blair form for dear life?

2. Don't let your arms go completely limp in an effort to "play dead". This trick does not necessarily work with bears and other carnivorous predators - and it certainly won't work on the Milonguero who is really trying to do his best to lead you. If you "make like a cadaver", it would just make sense for him to grip your torso harder to make your body go where he wants it to go.

3. Some do the complete opposite of "playing dead" - and counter with shoulder joint popping pushing. Are you trying to really "feel" the lead or are you trying to dislocate your partner's arm? Believe me, you are failing miserably at the former, and even if you succeed in the latter - you are making yourself a candidate for Ultimate Fighting, and not Ultimate Tango.

Man Yung's take on dancing with Milongueras to follow in the next post. But whether for Leaders or Followers, it may be useful to keep the following in mind:

Recognize that it is you, yourself who should be dancing better - stop blaming the Milongueros and Milongueras for your own failure. You may even want to try to learn how to really lead or follow. Try it, it may even turn out to be therapeutic.


Anonymous said...

When are the tourists going to recognize that milongueros are really trained professional wrestlers in suits? That's why they squeeze all the women. They confuse the dance floor with the ring where they went head to head with other men. All those practice fights made them forget how to be gentle with women.

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Janis,

It's good that Man Yung had extensive martial arts training - it brings him closer to "Milonguerohood" than actual dancing. Why travel all the way to Buenos Aires at all to learn tango when the Ultimate Fighting Championship is having an event in your hometown? There's nothing that says "Bien parada" more clearly than a couple of half-naked men rolling around on floor trying to pummel each other!


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