According to Wikipedia: ‘A taxi dancer, or “taxi” for short (the word has been used since circa 1927), is a professional dance partner in a partner dance. Taxi dancers are typically young women who are hired by male patrons to dance with them on a dance-by-dance basis. The term “taxi dancer” comes from the fact that, as with a taxi-cab driver, the dancer’s pay is proportional to the time she spends with the patron. A “taxi” is not a prostitute, and no sexual favors may be expected off the dance floor.’
I have had some experience of dancing with a taxi dancer when I started learning Ceroc. For about half an hour after the beginner’s class, during the freestyle, there are about 2-4 taxi dancers available (men and women) for the beginners to dance with. It felt great dancing with someone who knew what he was doing and that also brought it down to my level. It was only one dance, but it gave me a bit of confidence since I didn’t know anyone there and I was able to get a good lead which didn’t always happen in the class. These taxi dancers are part of the Ceroc team. I didn’t have to pay for them directly (unless the cost is part of the entry fee). This service is usually available during the Monday to Friday dance sessions.
I have been trawling the internet to get more information on taxi dancers, particularly for Tango, but there isn’t much information out there apart from references to or about taxi dancers – nothing that is really specific.
I did come across a very professional website for taxi dancers in Buenos Aires called Tango TaxiDancers. I read through the whole website. What they had to say makes a lot of sense for hiring a taxi dancer during your stay in Buenos Aires and I found that there was a general consensus among the other blogs and websites that mention taxi dancing for Tango.
Simply put, because most tourists do not understand the codigos and cabeceo, they may end up not dancing during an evening at a Milonga. Since the whole idea for a visiting Tango dancer is to have an authentic Tango experience, it would make some sense to guarantee getting some dances in. If one was smart, one could hire a taxi dancer, sit at different tables, agree to dance and then the onlookers could see how one is doing on the dance floor and perhaps some other dances could be generated. If a couple were going out for the first time, they could hire a man and a woman taxi dancer for the evening. The men would sit with each other – women likewise, and in-between dances, the taxi dancers could explain how things work in a Milonga and what to look out for. I think this sort of thing could work very well if it is your first trip to Buenos Aires and you don’t know anyone there.
My only concern would be the quality of the taxi dancer’s dancing skills. After all, just because they are Argentinean, that doesn’t automatically make them good dancers. Perhaps if one was a complete beginner it might not matter too much if the taxi dancer wasn’t expert, but one should get value for money. I have read some interesting stories online about random taxi dancers approaching tourists for work. I think one would have to be very careful about getting involved with this sort of thing and which is why I think it is very important to get as much information as you can about the people you would be dancing with.
The amount of Milongas in Buenos Aires is huge compared to what we have here in London and since there is the issue of cabeceo that isn’t really used over here, I am not sure how taxi dancing would really be of benefit to the London scene.
There have been references to taxi dancers being provided for various events and Milongas in London over the years and more recently. I bring this topic up for discussion because whenever I have heard this term used in reference to Tango there has always been an amount of derision coming from the sidelines, and perhaps justifiably so.
I am always skeptical about why people advertise taxi dancers for Milongas or a special event. I have been to events where taxi dancers have been advertised and have never seen them. Is it a lure to get as many people into the Milonga with the guarantee of getting a dance? What is the real intention of the organiser advertising the fact that they have taxi dancers available? Who are these taxi dancers and what makes them qualified? Remember, this is London. The really good dancers are already dancing, with each other.
Granted there are people that don’t end up dancing in an evening for many reasons. Sometimes, there just aren’t enough good dancers to go around in an evening. Sometimes there are couples that only dance with each other. I have heard women say that because they are of a certain age, they don’t get asked much. I am of a certain age and know others of a certain age – we dance – maybe not as often as we would like. I would rather have quality over quantity. Well, actually, I would really like to have both, but since I am realistic I will settle for quality.
Let’s face some facts. There aren’t many guarantees in life. With all of the talk about refusing to dance with bad dancers (it is supposed to make them improve), it makes sense to me that if you are not dancing it would be a good idea to take a really good look at yourself to work out what you need to improve in order to get the dances in. Are you networking? Do you pay attention to your appearance and personal hygiene? Are you personable and pleasant? What are your social skills like? Have you been taking classes – or enough of them? Learning to dance Tango well involves a lot of hard work, and not just with the technical aspects of the dance. You really have to put yourself out there.
If you want to dance nearly every dance or more than one in an evening, then take up Ceroc. There is a general rule that no one should be refused a dance regardless of your level. After all, it is only one dance.
Tango has its own complicated rules and I am always learning new ones. Being involved in Tango is not for the faint hearted. Is offering taxi dancing really going to help matters?
So, does taxi dancing really have a place here in London? If so, how should it be used? If not, why?
Over to you.