Archive for July, 2010

Attitude is everything

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Cool title, no? Attitude is everything. I’ve had this idea for a blog post for about the last 6 weeks, maybe longer. The mind map had most of the elements on it but I couldn’t find the words to get it into writing, to elaborate what I wanted to say.

Last night while reading blogs, watching a couple of videos and thinking about some things that happened at milongas last week, things fell into place. There was another click inside my head and the next step on my tango journey is now clear. And I think I have something to justify that snappy title.

In tango, as in work, love, life, attitude really is everything. I think it was Henry Ford who said something like “There are 2 kinds of people. Those who think they can, and those who think they can’t. Interestingly, both are usually correct.”

As a leader in tango I need 3 things: skill, musicality and attitude. Skill comes with instruction and practice. I need lots of practice. Operating a heightist partner selection policy isn’t helping on the quantity of practice I get. I’ll be relaxing that policy over time. Musicality is essential. Tango is an improvised dance, an interpretation of what the music says to the dancers in the moment. I have always felt musicality is an innate characteristic, it can’t be taught. You’re born with a certain amount and that’s it. It might be possible to develop what you’ve got with practice but only so far. If that weren’t the case then we would all be Mozarts or Fred Astaires [insert your favourite composer/dancer here].

Skill and musicality are important but attitude – actually arrogance – is EVERYTHING. If you’re a timid little mouse then no amount of skill and musicality is going to take you very far in tango. Tango is not only improvised, it is macho. It is a dance for alpha males. This is exemplified by bad dancer porteños. I am not a great tango dancer but I can recognise bad dancing when I see it. Contrary to what some people believe there really are some bad porteño leaders. I’ve watched them at various milongas wrong foot their partner, trip over their steps, miss the music. Not just once or twice, but consistently through an entire tango, tanda, and milonga. But they have infinite amounts of self belief. As far as they’re concerned they are fabulous and they are the next Pablo Veron or Pedro Sanchez [insert your greatest tango dancer here]. If I could find the source of their self-belief and bottle it I’d make a fortune.

Actually I know where it comes from. It is internal. And it is self-fulfulling. How do we change our attitude? Hypnosis maybe, or NLP or some other fancy schmancy technique? Well, if you must. But the best way – by just doing it. Positive reinforcement. What Henry said!

Last Wednesday 4 tangueras complimented my leading; 2 tourists and 2 porteñas. I have decided to stop arguing with them, with my teachers, and the other followers who tell me I’m a lovely dancer. Accept that they are right, believe it. I am a lovely dancer. I have a long way to go yet. But I am a lovely dancer.

First confirmed sighting

Friday, July 16th, 2010

It’s official. Sallycat‘s fabulous Happy Tango guide book has been seen in the wild.

My copy ordered from hasn’t been delivered yet, and even when it is, I won’t actually get my hands on it until at least October. So how do I know it’s fabulous?

Because I was privileged to be one of the beta readers back in December 2009 and I have been living my Buenos Aires dream for the last 3 months based largely on what I learned from the book, and before that from Sallycat’s blog.

If you’re thiCover photo from Sallycat's book Happy Tangonking about coming to Buenos Aires to tango, or if you’ve already booked your tickets, be sure to get a copy of Happy Tango before you leave for the airport. The sooner you get one the better. Already got a Lonely Planet or other guide book? Don’t have room in your case for a second? Chuck the one you’ve already got and bring Happy Tango instead. It really is that good.

Still trying new places

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

For a few nights around the weekend before last I was back in full milonga-exploring mode. Over 4 nights I went to 7 milongas, some with the help of a couple of tanguera friends. Friday’s La Milonga del Gordo at La Nacional, Saturday’s Cachirulo at Plaza Bohemia, Tuesday’s Sentimental y Coqueta at Plaza Bohemia and Milonga 10 at Club Fulgor now have ticks next to them on my list. There are several still to try before 2 tanguera friends from England come out here in August.

The exploration of additional milongas continued more recently with Friday’s Unitango at La Ideal and La Meca at Plaza Bohemia, and Monday’s Shuseta at Plaza Bohemia getting ticked off my list. It’s amazing that I had been here 3 months before going to any of the Plaza Bohemia milongas!

In a change of scene from tango, one day last week I had afternoon tea at Las Violetas, a famous Buenos Aires coffee house. There were supposed to be 4 of us go, but 2 of the girls felt unwell so just 2 of us went and indulged. It’s an impressive building from the 1920s with stained glass windows, marble floors, big columns and chandeliers. Eventually it fell into disuse and was boarded up. A 6 month restoration project in 2001 brought it back to life. I didn’t take any photos of the building because when I arrived my friend was already waiting inside. I’ll go back at some point and take some photos. Meanwhile, you can see what it looks like at their website.

We chose one of their platters –

and did a pretty good job of polishing it off. I think there was one sandwich and a small, sad-looking pastry left when we declared ourselves stuffed.

Back to tango, there’s another milonga for me to try for the first time tonight – Lo de Celia.