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?

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Costumes

As there is no Tango in Eastbourne, I now have the time to finally learn Belly Dancing (see post in my other blog).  So far I have been to two classes, which have been more like a workout at the gym.  I will be organising a private lesson to get a better grip on technique.  I admit that after two classes I am totally hooked!

I wore tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt to my first lesson as the teacher said to wear something comfortable.  Everyone else wore leggings, harem pants, or a skirt with a cropped or wrap top and a jingly hip scarf.  So I ordered my hip scarf and teamed it up with a nicer pair of track suit bottoms and a brighter t-shirt for my second class.  Everyone else was dressed as before or more so.  One lady had an interesting tribal looking skirt with feathers in it.  I felt so overwhelmingly underdressed – like being the only person with clothes on at a nudist’s beach.

So, today I went to my local dancewear shop to purchase some comfortable clothes for belly dancing and to really get me into the mood.  I now have a pair of wide legged dance pants with a roll-down waist and a crop top with a frilly sleeve (both in black) and a red tank top.  My belly is set to be exposed along with the rest of them!  My hip scarf is purple, so I will have to buy another one in red to go with the red top.  🙂  There was a lovely purple chiffon skirt with sequins that would look lovely over a pair of leggings and would go with my scarf, but that will have to be another day!  Thank goodness I don’t have to buy shoes!  The upside to all of this spending is that I can use the pants for Tango as well as Salsa and Ceroc!

While trying on clothes, the saleslady and I had a conversation about the different garments we wear for each dance and the amount of money we spend on them.  A lot of my dance clothes came from various charity shops and I can happily say that I didn’t have to spend too much money to look good.

For Tango, I like to dress up.  Most of my Tango clothes are work clothes or going out clothes that can be doubled up as dance clothes.  These dual purpose skirts/dresses are elegant and yet allow my legs to move freely.  If I need a new dress or skirt, I always ask myself if I can Tango in them.  If I can’t then I don’t buy it.  I don’t have a lot of closet space, so my clothes need to be versatile.  When I wear my Tango clothes I feel very glam and elegant.

For Salsa and Ceroc, I like to dress down a bit.  By that, I mean I might wear jeans or a skirt with a funky, yet lightweight top.  Salsa is more energetic than Tango and I tend to glow.  It is easier to bring along a few spare tops when one is feeling the heat.  Because of the moisture issue, most of the tops I wear are very inexpensive so I don’t feel so bad if they get ruined and I have to dispose of them.  When I wear my Salsa/Ceroc clothes, I feel a bit wild and carefree.

When we don our dancing clothes we become transformed.  It is as if a switch is turned on in our brains and puts us in dance mode.  Like Clark Kent morphing into Superman we become the Superheroes of the dance world.  Even though we know that it really isn’t the clothes that make us good dancers (like go-faster stripes on a car doesn’t really make it go faster, really), if we look good we feel good, and that can give us that extra bit of confidence to relax and enjoy ourselves.

I know that buying new belly dancing gear will not make me a better dancer, but at least I will fit in with the rest of the group and that will really help me get into the spirit of things.  The fact that they are more comfortable than what I had worn previously will make a huge difference and might help me bring out my inner goddess!

So, what do you like to wear when dancing and how does it make you feel?

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