Hit it and quit it -- The promiscuity factor

Does the approach to social dance reveal the manner in which someone approaches mating, and is the milonga itself a metaphor for the dating pool?

When people dread the position of not dancing, is it that they are not feeling validated for their worth? The same kind of dread that some people have of growing old alone and not having anything to show for their lives when they die? And in the metaphor, is the dance the DNA we want to share, the bit of ourselves we want to pass on to exist beyond us thereby immortalizing ourselves in some small way? Do the seconds on the clock ticking towards the end of the milonga represent the days of our lives, and does every dance represent the loves -- or at least, the couplings -- we will have? Consequently, does a milonga devoid of dancing represent a life devoid of companionship, and the dances we did not share signify the increased likelihood that all that is ourselves ends with us?

For those who are selective about their dances or who seemingly feel less compulsion to dance than others, does that indicate that they are at a contented place in the balance of companionship and non-companionship? Are they more secure in their solitude? Or secure in their perception that they can get the dances they want when they want them; that they are only interested in sharing their dance/DNA where it will have the most benefit? Or does their restraint say something about their lack of libido/virility? For those on the extreme end who rarely choose to dance at all, are they, or at least are they seen as, "tango frigid" or "tango impotent," and does that perception seemingly point to their manner outside of tango as well?

Then there is the other side of the equation. There are those leaders, we'll call them "tango satyrs," who seem determined to dance with every woman in the room. And of course, there are the followers, whom we'll call "tango nymphomaniacs," who want the same thing from every guy -- although, here it is important to make a distinction: the tango nymphomaniacs are those who genuinely have that hunger for dance partners as opposed to the followers who "do their duty," so to speak, from a sense of obligation to be social and to maintain their appearance as viable dance partners.

For the tango satyrs and nymphomaniacs, do they even care or notice what they are giving up of themselves, or is it all about taking for them? Is it a chip on the shoulder that they have something to prove? Or is it about being at a buffet and constantly filling their plate so they haven't missed anything? Is the dance such an inconsequential thing that they have no issues with hopping from one partner to another in rapid succession, either discarding the previous dances as over and done or cataloging them as notches in a belt or items in a to-do list that they can cross off? Or is it possible that every dance really is something special, and if so how is that possible, that the volume itself doesn't dilute the well of experience (can the person who has bedded over a hundred different people feel as strongly for each partner as the person who has bedded only ten)? Or is it something they simply can't help of themselves, something obsessive-compulsive that drives them to constantly seek the euphoria of the fresh dance?

On another level, for those looking for casual hookups, is it a good indicator that the tango satyrs and nymphomaniacs will be both easier to hookup with and more reliably un-clingy in the aftermath? For those looking for a more committed relationship, do the more selective dancers seem to indicate better qualities of fidelity?

I'm not arguing for one thing or another, that one approach is better or worse or that tango satyriasis/nymphomania is necessarily a bad thing. Because honestly, when it comes down to it, what is tango for most people but promiscuity, in a sense? I am hard pressed to think of anyone anywhere who dances only with one person. As with everything, it's a matter of degree, no? Let's face it: monogamy is not human nature. It is in the best interest of our biological imperative to fool around with a lot of partners, hopefully partners with qualities that will benefit us in the long run. I'm just wondering if these are some of the possible multitude of ways in which the manner that one approaches tango reveals more about their character than they necessarily intend or perhaps would even want.


An unteachable lesson

A lot of people seem to approach a milonga as if it is imperative to get as much dancing as possible, or that they should brave a dance on a perilously crowded or dangerous floor because even a compromised dance is better than none at all.

My outlook, on the other hand, is that I would rather drive an hour to a milonga and wait through the end until the energy on the floor was right for me, and leave without ever having danced if that time never comes, than to force myself onto the floor just because I made the trip and paid the cover, or need to get my tango "fix". Will I feel it was a waste? In some ways, certainly. But there is always the foreknowledge that it could have been much worse if I had gone against my better judgment.

Certainly, the call to dance can be strong, and it can be difficult to resist. The dj plays an orchestra that I love, and a favorite dance partner is available. But if the dance conditions aren't within a certain workable parameter, ultimately it becomes a questionable endeavor. When I dance with someone, I always want to give them my best dance. Of course, that doesn't happen very often -- quite rarely in fact. Though that's the ideal, I would be satisfied at least with a good representation of my expression and feel. Where I come away with the sense that my partner has an accurate idea of how I heard and interpreted the music and the moment. So even if the music is great and the partner is willing, if the floor conditions aren't right then I can't really express myself anyway, so to what end would I be dancing? In fact, in that situation the frustration can be even more profound because the schism between what is felt and what can be actualized can be so much greater.

Anyway, my point being, there is one lesson that I think is of importance but cannot be taught, and that is how to know when not to dance. Of course, this is a very subjective thing; everybody has their own perception on what conditions are acceptable to them and what in the dance brings them satisfaction. Naturally, when dancing socially there is always some degree of compromise (at least there should be -- if this sounds alien to you I'd say it is more likely that you are a hazard to others on the floor). The prime dancing time, then, is a matter of gauging the zone of probable compromise on the floor at a given moment.

So how do I assess the conditions for myself? Well, barring partner compatibility considerations:

  • If I watch the floor and can't discern a clear flow, that's a bad sign. I'm sure we've all experienced the milonga that more resembles a pot of boiling water than something with a current. Perhaps acceptable for salsa or club dancing, but pointless for tango.
  • I will not dance when doing so places my partner beyond a certain degree of risk. If it seems that the majority of the dance will be spent on the defensive, trying to keep my partner out of harms way, that is too much of a compromise on my expression for me or my partner to enjoy. Similarly, if the floor is overly crowded and the traffic causes undue congestion I prefer to wait it out. Just as in driving a car, I can't stand the stop and go thing.
  • If I'm not feeling the music or don't care for the orchestra, I will wait for the next tanda. Or, if the djing is particularly not to my liking, I may not dance at all. (side note: I don't relate to those who invite dances during cortinas, before they even know what will be played next. I'm guessing the music doesn't matter so much to them and they love dancing for dancing's sake. In a way, I suppose that makes me more limited of a dancer than they as I can only dance honestly when I am compelled, and not everything compels me.)
  • If for unknown reasons I have been dancing in a way I feel is unsatisfactory, I will take some time away from the floor to relax and recalibrate, rather than dive right back in with the intention of fixing whatever isn't working. If the problem persists, I call it a night, knowing that it happens and therefore not getting down about it.
  • I generally dislike dancing milonga, and to a lesser degree vals, as my first dance, as it sets me up with an energy that can be hard to come down from.

I have become quite good at heeding my intuition and refraining from dances when I don't feel the conditions are suitable. Naturally, I have encountered people who were dubious about my reservations, wondering if I was making up some excuse not to dance with them. But what I have found is that as more people get to know me and my outlook, the more I develop a kind of reputation for being fastidious and they come to realize it's okay for them not to take it personally. And as a kind of bonus, some people have told me they consider it something of a treat to dance with me because they know I'm so damn picky. So, while I may not dance nearly as much as many in the community, I have found that being true to myself in being discerning has served me well. Quality for quantity -- I consider it a fair trade off.


Quejas de Blogdoneon, or, Writing/Tango = Dancing/Architecture?

Since this blog is not nor has ever been about chronicling the days and nights of tango life in detail, it is prone to these periods of inactivity. I always feel obligated to have a particular topic or thread of thought before I begin to write, yet I don't want to force something into existence just for the sake of updates.

That being said, sometimes I wonder just what it is that brings me to write in this public forum. For my own personal use I keep a private journal with thoughts and observances, notes on things to work on and such. These are things that specifically address my own issues with the dance, primarily technical issues, and as such are of little use to anyone but myself. The utility of this blog, as what has seemed to happen without conscious intention on my part, has been to raise questions without clear cut answers and gather responses from others. Although oftentimes I don't really see what I am presenting to the world that adds to it in any genuinely practical way. Or perhaps, to put it another way, there is a preponderance of tango blogs out there and the issues that pop up always seem to be the same ones--authenticity, floorcraft, new vs. old, finding ones place in the community, etc. So what am I asking--indeed, what can I ask of practical and common relevance--that hasn't been asked before or will be asked again? And has anything really been resolved? Or is it just about finding comfort bitching to the world from our lofty idealistic viewpoints of what should be, and that is all we bloggers can hope to take from our scribbles?

Also, in writing about tango--at least, in writing about the dancing of tango--I'm wondering if it's a misguided attempt at correlation and a practice that directly contradicts what I referenced in my last post regarding the overanalysis of tango. What am I doing here but analyzing the dance and the culture, often with considerations that may be far removed from anything truly relevant about tango or with no basis in anything that actually exists outside of my imagination? And do I share these considerations which may be deliberately peculiar as an effort to inject something different in the tango blogosphere? As a means to distinguish this blog from all the others? And to what end?

As has been the case especially of late, this entry is a meandering one. My apologies.