Arlene's London Tango Pages

Tango Teachers, a Dime a Dozen

Having just read Irene and Man Yung’s recent post, my observation of the dance floor at Negracha last weekend, the recent bout of visiting teachers and my own musings in my head these last few years that haven’t yet entered the realm of my blog, I feel compelled to voice an opinion.  Hold onto your seats!

Now I know that I have moved out of London, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t keep up with what is going on at the Milongas.  I get updates about classes and visiting teachers.  It seems that there is a visiting teacher or two or three every week.  They are meant to be masters or well respected teachers from wherever it is they come from.  What I want to know is, who are these people really and what makes them so special?  Who decides that they are masters and who says that they are wonderful?  Most of them are barely out of nappies!  Most of them teach tricks and fancy moves and dance in open hold.  It may be the kind of Tango that is being taught in certain London venues, but it is certainly not MY Tango.  Granted, we get a few visiting teachers that are actually very good, but they are far and few in between.  I have heard from my friends in BA that there are many so called teachers there that prey on tourists just to make money.  Now they are coming over here.  Just because these people come over here from BA to ‘teach’ AT doesn’t mean they are any good because they are Argentine.  We already have very good AT teachers here that are Argentine and some that are not Argentine.  Why do we need these upstart fly-by-nights that are trying to make a quick buck out of us to pay for their holidays?  And why should we pay more to see crap demonstrations when all we want to do is dance at the Milongas?

Going back to the dance floor at Negracha, I nearly didn’t go this last weekend because the antics tend to overtake everything and most leaders end up doing defensive dancing which takes away the enjoyment of the moment.  Fortunately, it wasn’t too crowded and there were some people that I knew I would have a good time with.  However, there was one young man there who is now putting himself out as a teacher having spent some time in Buenos Aires.  I first danced with him some few years ago when he was 19 (he is the same age as my eldest) and I was very impressed that A) he was dancing Argentine Tango at what I considered such a young age for an English boy and B) he was pretty good and I thought he had a lot of potential.  Well, he is a bit older now and has apparently spent a fair amount of time in BA learning to dance and I was expecting wonderful things.  I should remind myself to keep my expectations low as what I saw him doing on the dance floor had me nearly choke on my mineral water!   Firstly, he was practicing moves on the dance floor!  This was a Milonga, not a practica!  When he was actually dancing, I saw that he was dancing large!  Sigh!  He had so much potential.  It wouldn’t have mattered to me too much, but he wasn’t even good at it and he wasn’t even minding the flow of dance and other dancers!  In fact, I thought he was pretty darn awful.  Can someone tell me why just because a person spends time and money ‘learning’ to dance Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires they think they are actually good enough to teach?  I have to say it is either very arrogant or delusional.  There are times when people tell me who they are learning with and I have to bite my tongue, something I am not used to doing.  My tongue is pretty sore and I am not sure I will have much left of it at this rate.

As for the rest of the stuff in my head, well, some of it really doesn’t bear repeating!  I am bemused, bewildered and gobsmacked by what I am coming across these days.  I have been in London for nearly a week and have only been out dancing two nights as frankly I can’t be asked to get myself up and out there.  I have finally reached the ‘been there and done that’ stage of Tango.  I love my music and my dance, but I can’t be asked to deal with what I have been witnessing at the  Milongas.  What the heck happened?  I accept how things are and yet am bemused at how it got to this point.  I am not being bitchy or really complaining.  I am merely observing, which is different.  I am ok with only having two nights of dancing.  It is enough because I enjoyed it and it filled my Tango void until the next trip up to London. I had some lovely dances with old friends and some new faces.  I thought I would want more, but when it actually came down to it, I didn’t.  I am happy to just listen to the music and I don’t need to go to a Milonga for that as I have plenty of music on my laptop.

What happened to my Tango, or is it just me?  Have I gotten too cynical?  Am I alone in my thinking?  Will someone please tell it to me straight or am I the only one that sees it as the Tango equivalent of The Emperor’s New Clothes?