Am I Missing Something?

Dear Tango Tia: I’m thinking of quitting tango because most of the time all I get out of it is a bruised ego and humiliation. Every other kind of dance I do is about having fun. Tango seems to be about being serious. I don’t get it. Am I missing something?

Dear Missing: You are right…tango dancers can be very serious. However, just because we’re not smiling doesn’t mean we’re not having fun. There are lots of smiles and laughter during cortinas, but when the music starts, it’s time to concentrate. If your ego is getting shattered, perhaps private lessons to crank up your skills and confidence would be in order. Maybe attend a few milongas just to observe respected leaders and memorize some of their basic moves. Fun comes in many forms; for tango it’s often in a mind-body-partner-connection kind of way. Seriously.


  1. Dude who tried to dance says

    Thanks for your response. I might try it again some day if I feel I find a class that might suit my personality. I don’t have a lot of hope, but I might post here again if that day comes. Until then I’ll just try to understand that some activities just aren’t for everyone, and the local tango scene just doesn’t seem to be a good match for me.

  2. Dude who tried to dance says

    I think the problem with Tango for me is that everyone finds different things fun. For some people the intense pursuit of the perfect dance technique is their idea of fun, and some people just don’t have fun that way. For those of us who aren’t interested in taking it overly seriously, it’s hard to enjoy it. I joined just so I could learn to dance casually with my girlfriend and gain confidence. I never had the intention of becoming the best dancer in town or treating it on a serious or professional level. But every tango instructor insists that I do things like switch partners all the time because it will make me a “better dancer”. Maybe I don’t want to be a better dancer. Maybe I just want to do what I find fun and comfortable at my own pace, not what the Argentine ideal says I should do. I guess the conformity bothers me a bit. I find changing partners is incredibly stressful and not enjoyable unless the partner is someone I am already comfortable with – like a close friend. I would do it if I could dance with who I choose, but I can’t take the stress of always having to hold onto a different person at the whim of the instructor or the community. I don’t like being frowned upon because I don’t wish to change partners. I wish each of us could pursue in dance what we ourselves enjoy and move at our own pace, but I find Tango is a little too strict in its interpretation of what is fun and how we should be. I’m all for the idea of modernizing Tango, making it less serious and less stressful, letting girls lead, letting people dance with one person or with many people as much as they choose, afterall we aren’t in turn of the centruy Argentina. But I don’t think anyone in the Tango community where I am agrees with me. I could enjoy it if I could do it on my own terms but when I went to classes I always felt like a square peg being hammered into a round hole.

    • Tango Tia says

      Dear Dude,
      Excellent points. Hopefully you can find an instructor who understands your position and will give you the option of changing partners rather than requiring it. It’s worth asking those who you think might be open to the idea. Teachers should allow for differences of intent and to accept that all are valid. Tango is a living dance and that means change. In Argentine culture, tradition, codes, etc. will likely remain in place as long as there are enough dancers who prefer those conditions. Purists will continue to pursue tango as it was in the Golden Age. Modernists will likely revise/update, as you mentioned. Others will prefer a combination. Each of us should be accepted for who we are and what our goals are. I hope you find a teacher (or more) who gives you the opportunity to pursue tango in the manner you have chosen. I’d be interested in hearing your progress.

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