Nuevo Tango is Dying – According to Some

It seems there is hope after all for those of us that prefer the classical Tango music and close embrace.

According to Irene on Irene and Man Yung’s Tango Blog, ‘Tango Nuevo’ is in its death throes.  If you do click on the link, be warned.  Irene does not mince her words.  In fact, she could be describing the London Tango scene.  I have seen plenty of middle-aged men with their baggy trousers, and heaven forbid, baseball caps (turned backwards!).  What woman would want to dance close to someone wearing a cap?  Oh, I momentarily forgot, they don’t dance close!

Even TangoCherie’s post on Milonguero Nuevo seems to confirm it! (It’s where Irene got her idea from)  These youngsters are dancing what is known here as fluid embrace.  I still can’t get used to that type of dancing.  Once I’m in the embrace and comfortable, I just want to enjoy it and not worry about separating.  It’s too much to think about and the whole idea in Tango is for the woman not to think too much and just enjoy the music.  However, fluid embrace is better than dancing large as long as people are mindful of the dance floor.

I remember when I started learning, it was with someone who taught large moves.  I didn’t know any better.  I also danced with anyone who asked me and a lot of guys danced with tricky moves.  I was ok with tricky and large back then.  I thought it was a good idea to be versatile.  I can still be versatile, but I choose not to and haven’t really danced large for a few years now.  I want to dance close and elegantly.  I don’t dance Tango much these days, so when I do, I want the experience to be the way that I want it and I dance with people who will give me that experience.  Sometimes one may slip through the net, but contrary to what some people say, a lady doesn’t have to do the move that the man is trying to lead if she isn’t comfortable with it.  I think people forget that the man ‘invites’ the woman to dance and he ‘invites’ her to move.  Certain things can be lead, but others must be invited.  I know so many ways to avoid doing a gancho it will make your head spin!

I am also a woman of a certain age.  I am in no hurry for things, so I don’t need to be charging around the dance floor trying to kick the back of my head, or anyone elses for that matter.  It would look silly.  I would also look silly wearing harem pants and a tank top to a milonga.  I don’t look silly when I wear harem pants for my Belly Dancing class.  There is a big difference between the two.

Irene is right.  The young nuevo dancers will get older and will eventually go back to the basics because of necessity.  Hopefully the current fad for the middle-aged will have passed as they might realise how daft they look and their bodies will eventually scream at them to slow down.

The only downside to that is I might be dead by the time they all work it out!

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17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lynne Kern
    Jul 07, 2010 @ 14:55:00

    This made me chuckle! I too am a woman of a certain age and a relative newcomer to Tango, having started learning about one year ago. I consider myself fairly fit and flexible for my age but have to face the fact that my hamstrings are no longer those of a twenty year old and are unlikely to allow me to kick my bottom should I so desire. I do my best with all this kicks and flicks but the pleasantest dances I have enjoyed are the ones where the lead is close but not suffocating and where the moves are elegant and simple. If a man insists apon expecting me to do a lot of complex things with my legs and feet I just end up off balance, tangled up and feeling totally inadequate!

  2. Alan Jones
    Jul 07, 2010 @ 17:43:13

    So,the chair-kickers may be on the way out,:-).
    We never made good bedfellows,’trads’ and ‘mods’.I saw ‘nuevo’ dancers at Club Malcolm in Buenos Aires,and yes,enjoyed the evening there,with three or four couples dancing well.But,I did notice a lot of free space on the dance floor! Wishing you that perfect ‘traditional’ tango,Senor Jonez(don’t ask!).

  3. Chris, UK
    Jul 07, 2010 @ 17:59:15

    Ah, Nuevo. People complaining about the dire standard of London dancing should be thankful that at least one problem we don’t have is nuevo teachers (apart from Rene and Hiba).

  4. David Bailey
    Jul 08, 2010 @ 09:22:32

    @Arlene: “The young nuevo dancers will get older and will eventually go back to the basics because of necessity”
    – Well, yes, but there’s a couple of problems with that:
    1. It takes time for people to get older. Sometimes a long time. “Hanging around waiting for a decade” doesn’t sound like much of a strategy to me.
    2. Unless you bar young people, there’ll be a constant influx of new, young people coming along to swell the ranks. So the problem will continue, just with different people.

    To me, it goes back to basics – people dancing “the fancy stuff” are not (mainly) doing that because they’re intentionally malicious, they’re doing that because they genuinely think this is the way they should dance. Presumably because they’ve seen Tango shows and they’ve been taught lots of sequences.

    So I’d say the solution is “fix the teaching”, not “wait for them to get old and tired”…

    Also, I’m a bit of a heretic here, but I actually quite like nuevo tango, in the right environment and to the right music. It’s a style with its own challenges and rewards. What annoys me is people dancing nuevo style in a salon environment; it’s disruptive and dangerous.

  5. Arlene
    Jul 08, 2010 @ 10:25:23

    @David Bailey,
    I know that it has to do with teaching, but a little bit of hope is something to look forward to. You have to admit that Irene is very funny!
    😉

  6. Chris, UK
    Jul 08, 2010 @ 10:32:10

    > I actually quite like nuevo tango, in the right environment …
    > What annoys me is people dancing nuevo style in a salon
    > environment; it’s disruptive and dangerous.

    Let’s remember that nuevo was invented by class teachers for the purpose of class teaching, so no surprise that it’s only right environment is the classroom.

  7. David Bailey
    Jul 08, 2010 @ 12:35:27

    I’d have some sympathy with a viewpoint that said “Nuevo Tango is not Argentinian Tango”, in that I feel it’s inappropriate to dance nuevo style to traditional AT music. But Nuevo Tango is still Tango, to me, just done to a different musical style.

    As long as Nuevo mixes with Traditional on the dance floor, there’ll be clashes. So my opinion of nuevo is that it needs to grow up. That is, it needs to develop as an independent music / dance form, in the same way that Milonga and Vals are.

    So, at some point, you might see Nuevo tandas played as a regular occurrence within a milonga evening – instead of T-T-V-T-T-M-T-T-V- etc. you might see something like T-T-V-T-T-M-T-T-N-T-T-V-etc.

  8. Cherie
    Jul 08, 2010 @ 15:01:46

    I love beautiful dancing in all its forms. I don’t necessarily want tango nuevo to die, I just would like people to understand the difference between it and traditional tango and not try to do both, and not to do both in the same social space.

    It it’s more attractive to young folks, that’s great. Maybe they will dance milonguero when they appreciate the music and the embrace more when they are older. Or maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll switch to salsa.

    Tango nuevo can be as beautiful as any other type of dance. But I object to the confusion in teaching, marketing, and in the milongas due to not differentiating between the two styles. So often when people sign up for “tango lessons” they haven’t a clue what they’re going to get. Ruben and I always clarify what we teach and how we dance at the beginning of each new student’s lessons.

    Folks are very clear about West Coast and East Coast Swing, why not the 2 tangos? (and 3 if we add stage tango)

  9. Irene and Man Yung
    Jul 08, 2010 @ 15:23:09

    Dear Arlene,

    LOL! We love your description of aging London Nuevoists wearing baggy pants backward baseball caps. It just captures the whole feeling of the thing for us – passe, oblivious and ridiculous!

    It seems that our whole community (except for the pockets of idiocy) is moving away from outward spectacle,”dancing large” and being “versatile”. People want to feel the music and the dance. We’ve observed that the young female newcomers to the scene increasingly want to dance with the gentlemen who transmit the magic of the embrace. They don’t want to flail about executing empty movements, only to get the evil eye from the people they are kicking inadvertently. And when the other gentlemen see this – they abandon Nuevo and embrace tradition themselves.

    Just as chaos can lead to more chaos (one high kicker on the floor setting off a whole horde of high kickers trying to prove they could kick even higher), harmony can lead to more harmony….

    Thanks for mentioning us on your blog (and enjoying our post!)

    Irene and Man Yung

  10. Arlene
    Jul 08, 2010 @ 15:50:15

    @David
    I have to disagree about Nuevo Tango being Tango, I just don’t want to get into an argument about it. Some people will agree and some not. I don’t object to it as a dance form, just to it being labeled Argentine Tango. Also, I can’t bear when people dancing salon have to put up with the antics of those dancing large. It doesn’t work.

    @ Cherie
    I think that maybe there could be more milongas geared specifically to those who want to dance Nuevo. Then the styles wouldn’t clash so much. I used to have fun with this style, but it doesn’t work for me now that I don’t dance as much or for the fact that it interferes with many people on the dance floor dancing traditionally.
    I think that the way people market Tango can be very misleading, but then they might not get the students that they want otherwise. False advertising!

    @ Irene
    Yes, we have our fair share of ageing Tango Lotharios trying to recapture something, I don’t know what. Hopefully they will snap out of it soon as it don’t look pretty. What they can be thinking is anybody’s guess.
    Thanks for stopping by. A x

  11. Chris, UK
    Jul 08, 2010 @ 16:24:45

    > But Nuevo Tango is still Tango, to me,
    > just done to a different musical style.

    Nuevo is not about the music – it is about movement for movements sake. It is not “done to a diffferent musical style” but to any music or even I saw recently to silence.

    That’s one reason dancing nuevo is incompatible with dancing tango. In dancing tango, it is the music and the feeling for it shared by all that keeps everone dancing togther harmoniously on the floor.

    Even a floor-full of only nuevo dancers is chaos. Their antics inherently anti-social not because they dance to a different drum, but because they dance to no drum at at all.

    Unless you count the drumof $$$ – in mainland Europe, they are almost all teachers showing off for potential class buyers.

    > As long as Nuevo mixes with Traditional on the dance floor, there’ll be clashes.
    > So, at some point, you might see Nuevo tandas played as a regular occurrence
    > within a milonga evening
    you might see something like T-T-V-T-T-M-T-T-N-T-T-V-etc.

    I have seen it often, but I have not seen any way of keeping dangerous nuevos off the floor during the Tango, Milonga and Vals. Frankly I think many of them don’t even hear the difference. If they did, they wouldn’t be nuevos.

  12. David Bailey
    Jul 09, 2010 @ 08:38:52

    @Arlene:
    “@David
    I have to disagree about Nuevo Tango being Tango …. I don’t object to it as a dance form, just to it being labeled Argentine Tango.”
    – Yes. I think that you could make a good case to say that “Nuevo Tango” should be called “Nuevo tango” – and “Argentine Tango” should be reserved for salon style dancing to traditional music.

    “Also, I can’t bear when people dancing salon have to put up with the antics of those dancing large. It doesn’t work.”
    – Yep, again, mix-and-match doesn’t work, which again argues for NT to be separated more from AT.

    So we’re not arguing, we’re agreeing 🙂

  13. David Bailey
    Jul 09, 2010 @ 08:43:10

    @Chris:
    I think you’re being harsh on nuevo dancers. I agree that nuevo is done badly by many people, but when it’s done well – and I have seen it done well, just not often – it’s breathtaking.

    Dancing nuevo well is probably just as hard as dancing salon well. You need a lot of different skills to dance good nuevo, for example.

    The problem – as I see it – is not with the dance form. The problem – as I see it – is that people are trying to dance nuevo tango in traditional milongas, to traditional music. And that just does not work.

  14. The Accidental Tangoiste
    Jul 09, 2010 @ 15:56:16

    Too bad the news doesn’t seem to have reached where I live, yet–but things always do seem to take longer to filter through to us. 😉

    I think I need to learn some ways to avoid a gancho! Might you share?

  15. Alan Jones
    Jul 23, 2010 @ 17:22:13

    At our local milonga,we organised the room differently,moving the tables inwards slightly,for a change,or a different atmosphere. A well known tango-gymnast arrived late,and argued with the organisers,saying that he couldn’t dance in such a small space.He left without dancing a single tango…This is his problem! Alan.

  16. David Bailey
    Jul 26, 2010 @ 10:13:16

    @Alan:
    I was talking to Barry who runs Tango Cats in Bedford, and he organises the layout at his milongas quite strictly to promote cabaceo – that is, women on one said, men on another, mixed tables at one end. I’ve not been there, but it sounds interesting.

    I was talking about layout to Danny Evans at Carablanca a few weeks ago, and he’s been “shrinking the dance floor” by moving some of the tables closer in; it’s mainly to promote circulation of dancers rather than to stop people nuevo-ing. I’d like to see how that works, I’ll have a gander this Friday.

  17. Chris, UK
    Jul 26, 2010 @ 14:17:37

    Alan, another measure worth trying is charging a variable entrance price, proportional to the amount of space a dancer consumes. Nuevos typically wont pay four times as much to get in, especially since most are teachers/show dancers who think they should be admitted for free anyway. 🙂

    David, Carablanca doesn’t have the nuevo problem. That’s one advantage of running on the same night as another milonga that actively invites the neuvo problem.

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