Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Thank god this isn't Regency-era Great Britain where if you want to dance, 
you have to dance with every single person in the room, even the ones who you feel are completely conceited, arrogant, disdainful and

Since Man Yung seems to dance every tanda with every lady at the milonga, many observers may think he is being indiscriminate and that he isn't making a conscious choice when he choosing a dance partner.

It may look haphazard on the surface, but in fact, Man Yung uses these criteria, in order of priority:

1.  Dance with friends sitting at the same table as us first.  

Therefore, the ladies sitting with us whom we have known for ages (some of them were the first tangueras who ever accepted a dance with Man Yung, back in 2004!) will get at least one tanda, sometimes two or three!

2.  Dance with friends who are not sitting with us.  

Once again, we have known these lovely ladies for a long time and have had conversations much longer than "How are you? Fine thank you!"  Man Yung is more likely to ask single ladies in this group more than those with partners.  Those with partners will usually have more dances because of those partners than the single ladies (and be more tired out from dancing), so Man Yung will choose the single lady first.  In addition, for those ladies with partners, Man Yung is more likely to dance with the ladies with partners who are not jealous, who are not offended and are perhaps a little amused by the fact that Irene won't dance with them, than those with partners who are jealous/are offended and/or think that Irene should return the favour by dancing with them if Man Yung dances with their partner. 

3.  Dance with acquaintances we say hello to.  

Note that for tangueras falling within #2 and #3, it is important that they actually like dancing with Man Yung and are happy to be asked.  Some tangueras we are friendly with don't like dancing with Man Yung - probably because dancing with him with his encyclopedia of 'fancy schmancy moves' can be a pain in the ass.  This is when cabeceo saves the day - if the lady isn't looking in Man Yung's direction, he shouldn't ask her to dance!

4.  Dance with Tangueras we don't know very well who are staring at Man Yung for the purpose of cabeceo.  

Man Yung is short-sighted but the relentless stare will psychically make itself felt.  Since we don't know the tanguera well enough to know whether she wants to dance, the staring helps to signal to Man Yung that the Tanguera wants to dance with him.  With all cabeceo, Irene gives her helping hand (eye) to confirm for Man Yung who is staring at him so that he can go dance and leave her alone to play Match-3 games on her phone.

5.  Dance with Tangueras who have been sitting a long time/the whole night without getting dance.

Man Yung wants everyone to enjoy the milonga and he would make a special effort to dance with the ladies who have not been getting as many dances that night.  Often, these ladies may be beginners or just not popular with the other tangueros because of age and/or looks and/or skill level (the harsh truth). Once again, it helps if the tanguera is trying to cabeceo Man Yung instead of being engrossed in conversation with her neighbours/looking at her phone/gorging herself on the complimentary snacks.

Two critera we believe are very important to many tangueros that are completely unimportant to Man Yung:

A) The skill level of Tanguera.  Quite a few times we have heard tangueros say, "You should go and dance with her!  She is a really good dancer!"

Man Yung's reaction:  "She can be the best dancer in the world with the most fantastic whizzing footwork but that's nothing to do with me!"  Man Yung is not about to go out of his way dancing with someone who dances fabulously (maybe even a visiting instructor), especially if that person doesn't really want to dance with him and would only dance out of politeness. 

Man Yung can have terrific dances with tangueras of all skill levels.  Man Yung is happiest if the tanguera actually wants to dance with him and enjoys dance with him and they have fun and can feel a connection dancing together. 

B) The Tanguera's looks.  Once again, harsh truth:  Young, beautiful tangueras with gorgeous figures are the indisputable favourites of tangueros all the world over, but these kinds of good looks will not gain points with Man Yung. According to Man Yung, "All ladies are beautiful!"  And the most beautiful ladies in tango are the ones who have lived their lives to the fullest, and are full of love and laughter and compassion and light which infuses their dance. LADIES WITH BEAUTIFUL SOULS.


"So, Irene, I know you only have enough energy to dance with me and the rest of the time you are tired and want to play games on your iPhone, but if you had to choose a tanguero to dance with, what would be your criteria?" asked Man Yung.

I paused my game just long enough to respond.  "He has to dance like Fred Astaire and look like Alain Delon!  I'll take George Clooney too, he's not bad."

"Wow, Irene, what a compliment - I must have the looks of Alain Delon and the moves of Fred Astaire for you to dance so much with me!" said Man Yung.

"No way Man Yung - I think it must be the other way round.  You have the dance moves of Clooney and the looks of Astaire, but I love you anyway!"

* I remember there are three kinds of ladies Man Yung doesn't like to dance with.  One is the lady who thinks she is a hot-shot.  Describing one recent one he danced with, Man Yung said, "She literally stood there between Tangos with her hands on her hips and her nose in the air!"  

The second, related type, I think, is a lady who "corrects" Man Yung as he is dancing with her.  "But that hasn't happened for a long, long time!" said Man Yung.  

The third kind of lady talks incessantly while she is dancing with Man Yung.  I think she wants to talk not because their conversation is engrossing, but because she wants to distract Man Yung from the fact that she isn't following very well - and how can you follow well when you are so busy gabbing away, so loudly that everyone on the dance floor can hear you?


Edmund said...

Man Yung's criteria make a whole lot of sense to me. Also great joke with Astaire and Clooney!

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Edmund,

Thanks for getting our jokes! (Actually, Man Yung, I really mean it about Clooney/Astaire!)


Tango Salon Adelaide said...

Here’s my priority list:
1. My partner, of course.
2. My students
3. Dancers with whom I really enjoy dancing.
4. Regulars at our milongas.
5. Interstate or overseas visitors at our milonga.
That comes to quite a lot of women. Since I save my energy to put everything into 7-8 tandas at a milonga, and there aren’t many milongas in my city, my obsessive self forces me to keep a spreadsheet so that I know how long it’s been since I last danced with them all.

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