Friday, September 17, 2010

Life expectancy of a tango dancer

Man Yung was thinking of all the tango maestros one fine fall morning when suddenly he gave himself a little scare. He rushed into the living room to share with me his freak out.

"Irene, do you realize that almost all the great dancers died young?" he said, his hair on end and his eyes popping out of his face - kind of like a Hallowe'en cat, come to think of it. "You can just list them: Fino Rivera. Portalea. Pupi. Pepito. Lampazo. Rudolfo Cieri. Juan Bruno. Ricardo Vidort. Pedro Vujovich. Gavito. Now Tete too! I know there are all these medical/scientific/psychological studies that say that dancing, especially tango dancing, is beneficial to health. But look at the list of those who died at their prime or before their prime! Does this mean that being too great at Tango is actually dangerous for your health?"

I had the answer to that one.

"Man Yung, it wasn't the tango that killed them. In fact, I'm sure that if anything, the tango kept them going and going. Tango keeps the dancer youthful, mentally alert, physically active, and passionate for life. If the great dancers of yesteryear didn't have their life-sustaining tango, they would have pushed up the daisies a long time ago."

"So what killed them? Surely it can't be a coincidence."

"It was the smoke."

Even if there was some great dancing going on... you wouldn't be able to see it for the smoke

Indeed, it was all that smoke. Before the smoking ban in the milongas and the restaurants a few years ago, you could literally cut the smoky air in the milongas of Buenos Aires with a butter knife. The people from Toronto who went to Buenos Aires before the ban - some ended up avoiding the milongas altogether after the first few days. They found themselves too busy coughing and hacking up their lungs in their apartments and hotel rooms to even venture out. One even swore that the experience of stepping into the milonga and sucking up all that second hand smoke had the effect of shaving a couple of years off his life.

Imagine spending decades of your life, trasnochando-ing away in a toxic environment like that.

There's no better time than now to dance Tango - and to visit the beautiful, smoke-free milongas of Buenos Aires. Dance without the health hazard! Live longer and happier!

And for those Toronto Tangueros and other extranjeros whose tango is still wallowing in the slough of bumper-car tango and/or tango-ridiculo - you can now visit and dance in Buenos Aires (and we highly recommend it - run, not walk to your travel agent now) and still live to a hundred, or more! What a lucky break it is that you have the opportunity to live long and still dance tango...

... Because that's probably how long it will take you to finally start dancing a tango that actually makes sense. Don't despair - just give it some (and in some case, decades, centuries, even millenia) time - everyone eventually becomes a milonguero!

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Alberto Dassieu

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