Fatigue trumping good intentions.

I sit here writing this entry as a kind of penance for missing what I was planning to do at this moment, which was to attend Felipe and Rosa's monthly Tangueria in Oakland. It's a great venue with two of the best dancers in our community and I honestly think it has potential to be one of the top milongas in the Bay Area if it ever finds its legs. As such, I really want to support it... but I find that Friday nights are difficult. The last day of the work week, and I am invariably just wiped out, mentally and physically. And, I suppose, because I'm accustomed to going out on Saturday nights, Friday nights seem like a good time to recharge in preparation.

The last time I went to the Tangueria was many months ago, though each time since I had the intention of going but ended up refraining at the last minute. And up to that last minute I was at the point of preparation--contemplating what to wear, getting ready to freshen up--when I wrestled with the decision and ultimately came to the conclusion that if I did go it was because I was forcing myself to go on principle even though I wasn't really feeling up to it, which is probably not a very good reason.

Because it's been a while since I've gone I don't know how it's faring. Back then it was still very new and hadn't quite yet found a core audience, so it was inconsistent. One month would be very lightly attended while the next would be packed. But all who I spoke with had very positive things to say. I think tonight might be a little tough, though, because there are two very popular visiting teachers in town who are at two different venues. This was another factor in me especially wanting to go, because while I welcome guests to our community and wish them success, I feel ambivalent about the impact they sometimes have on the locals.

Obviously, my will was overridden tonight by sheer exhaustion. It's been a relatively busy tango week for me--from last Saturday I've only gone one day without tango, and the past three nights were focused on tango work with my partner (one of those nights at a workshop with one of the visiting teachers). I'm sure that from a professional's point of view that seems like nothing, but I'm not a professional, and my day job is physically taxing and at night I'm still managing to regularly hit the weights at the gym, sometimes directly from practice. Being a guy whose natural constitution isn't particularly robust, it takes a lot out of me.

Ah well. I really hope tonight went well at the milonga, which by all rights it should have. Especially since they had guests Ney and Jennifer to teach the class, two of my favorite teachers and dancers anywhere. As for me, I'm about ready to hit the bed. Only 1 AM--as a tanguero I should be ashamed of myself.


Frances R said...

I went to the Tangueria a few weeks ago. The venue is very nice indeed.
In attendance that night were two well defined groups (and few odd people who did not belong to either, including me).
The members of the groups did not dance with anyone who did not belong to their group.
So, I danced with 2 people in 2 hours.
One might fairly argue that the reason was my poor dancing skills, but some members of one group regularly dance with me in other milongas. That night they hardly said "hello". So, I had virtually no one to talk to, either.
By midnight the groups members apparently all danced with each other enough. One group left, the other resumed to sit together, eat, and chat. So, there was no dancing to watch, either. That's when I left, too.
The music was great, though, and the dances I had that night were all good.
I wonder why I do not feel like going back there anymore...

Malevito said...

Hi Frances R, how are you?

It's unfortunate that you had such an experience, but I think that everybody who has been in tango for some amount of time has gone through exactly the same thing. The high school/cliquey thing is pretty prevalent. I don't know if there's really a short cut around it. The only thing you can really do is to find an "in" somehow, but at least, from my perspective, finding an in isn't hard. If you just make yourself a familiar face and project an openness then people really are quite welcoming. But if you give up early and never go back to a particular place or to any place with an established crowd then it will be very hard to make yourself known. Because, in my experience, tango dancers tend to be very cautious with unfamiliar people (which I think is perfectly understandable).

I don't mean to advocate that you give this milonga another chance if you really didn't enjoy it. But I can remember a time when I felt like such an outsider at places with which I have since become indelibly linked. And if you give it a chance, it only takes one "insider" to get to know you, and usually they'll be eager to pass you on to other people.

As far as those people who you knew who didn't dance or talk with you, I can't say what was going on with them. It still happens to me all the time, and it can be hard not to take personally but again, I think it just goes with the territory and I just try to let it slide.

Also, if you really feel that a big reason why you didn't get dances is because of your dancing skills--well, I won't sugar-coat it. If your current ability is especially poor then it will certainly affect your dance ratio. BUT for whatever reason, I kind of doubt your level is to that degree. Not knowing you or your dance, I would advise that the best approach when dancing socially, as a leader or a follower, is to KEEP IT SIMPLE, at least initially. As a leader, of course, that means not to go right into volcadas, ganchos, etc. But as a follower, that means keep it clean--don't fill your dance with embellishments or drama, and in general don't do ANYTHING that you don't feel being led. Every leader worth their salt will appreciate a simple but sincere follow, I promise you that.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences!