Saturday, February 23, 2008

the Tango that Never Happened

Life's full of tough choices, my friends. Luckily, the toughest choices we have to make as tangueras & tangueros is who to dance with.

In a small community where everyone knows everyone, there isn't much choice. You just have to dance with everyone or else be considered a snob. You may have your favourites of course, but still. In a larger community or a festival, you can get away with a "list". Please allow me to relate how a "list" came about and how to compile one.

I arrive at a festival or say... a tango community where I happen to be visiting for whatever reasons. The first thing I do is put on my tango shoes. This signals to everyone I am ready to dance. Also this is a great way for making conversations with the ladies, which is of the utmost importance, at least in my esteem. The ladies present at tango festivals have vast amounts of knowledge that is not to be ignored. First things first, compliments are called for. We ladies greatly enjoy receiving compliments and I adore giving compliments as well.

"Great shoes! Are those Comme Il Fauts/Neo Tangos/etc?" Hence the importance of putting on your shoes. This allows other ladies to compliment each other on their shoes and create conversation. Besides, checking out someone's shoes is great fun as well as having them check out yours.

After the great shoes conversation we make more conversation with more personal questions. Then comes the biggie.

"So... please do tell, who are the gentlemen here I should/shouldn't dance with?" Each of us have danced with people who are divine and those less than divine, or even downright scary. Girls like to talk. As for the guys, please do not deny. You guys talk too, just in different ways and not always in the powder room together. Each person has their list of should/shouldn't-dance-with-people. I believe it's important when at a festival or unknown place to find someone who does know and get their intake.

For instance, this has saved me from dancing with a certain gentleman who has a tendency of rendering followers into sacks of potatoes. The girls had warned me and I took their warning to heart. Then later I saw a hapless woman with a pinched face being bandied about the floor like she was the newest bag of cous-cous. I felt bad for her and glad for myself and the girls who warned me. Most important is the Do Not list.

Then there is the must dance with list. This list is generally longer than the Do Not list. Most girls are not mean or evil and do not put a gentleman's name on the Do Not list unless she had a thoroughly miserable time. Also, I firmly believe that the tango world is overall a positive and outwardly looking society and we like to focus on the positives. Sometimes the Must Dance With list is long (a rather wonderful thing) and we can't dance with them all in one night/festival/event. Which presents a dilemma.

And then here's the iffy and tough part. Those on the Must Dance With list we try to get their attention, get introductions, etc. After that, we angle for dances. Sometimes those dances never happen. There have been instances when two incredible dancers, being apprised of each other's talents, become like ships passing in the night. A few women have come up to me and told me of gentlemen, who have been introduced, known and chatted with, who never asks them for dances. Even more bizarre is when these gentlemen turn down the lady when asked.

"I don't understand it. I don't think I'm a bad dancer. Yet he never dances with me."

It begs the question, why won't he dance with me? My answer... who knows? Thinking back upon my experiences, there is this one gentleman whom I see and chat with at all the festivals we see each other, which is several times a year. We seem to have the same schedule and like the same festivals. He is gentlemanly and has good manners and is a great dancer. He's one of those die hard tangueros that will dance until the dawn. He dances with all my friends and we have mutual friends in common. But he has yet to ask me to dance. When I catch his eye, he smiles and leads another lady to the floor. He has never been rude in any way, but he has never indicated he would ever be interested in dancing with me. So why won't he dance with me? Am I not good enough? Maybe he just doesn't like my style. Maybe I'm too short/tall/skinny/fat/etc.

Ladies, please don't do this to yourself. Who knows why he won't dance with you/me and in the end, who cares? There's so many other dancers out there, so many possibilities and so much enjoyment to be had. I spared this gentleman perhaps 15 minutes of my mental space, wondering why. Then a another dancer asks me for a tanda and he's out of my thoughts. Who cares why he won't dance with me? All that matters is that I'm dancing, I'm having a wonderful time - that you are having a wonderful time, meeting people, and hailing to the gods of tango.

1 comment:

Mark Andersen said...

As usual, Sappho, your provacative post has my mind turning a million miles a minute. So, here's the dark secret of tango from the male perspective--there are very specific reasons why men won't ask certain women to dance, but it's not the reasons most women would guess at. I'm going to write a Confession on this soon explaining what the reasons are. Thank you for opening up yet another great discussion, Sappho!