[Tango-L] No dancing before the music

Tango Society of Central Illinois tango.society at gmail.com
Thu Feb 21 11:21:34 EST 2008

On 2/20/08, doug at swingfusion.com <doug at swingfusion.com> wrote:
>  Instead of just complaining, why not organize an all classic tango
>  night in your local community and see what kind of crowd you draw?  If it is
>  enough to pay the studio rent and provides enough dancers to make the night
>  interesting, your problem is solved.  No appeasement required.  OTOH, if you
>  end up unable to pay the rent or with only 6 or 8 dancers, you may wish to
>  reconsider.  In any event, it sounds like you are complaining when you could
>  be doing.

This is really sad. Should we play the music people with their limited
culture perspective and ethnocentricity want to hear or the music that
is designed for dancing tango (i.e., classic tango music from the 30s,
40s, and 50s). This is a choice milonga organizers and DJs have to
make. Should I do what is popular? Should I do what brings in the most
money? Perhaps playing non-tango music at an 'alternative milonga' (an
oxymoron) will attract more people. The same applies to teaching
tango. An instructor teaching flashy moves may have more students than
one teaching simple social dancing, because it is what people want, or
have been taught to want, but not what validity represents the
cultural origins of tango.

The problem is, tango is more than a commodity to be bought and sold,
although that is what it often becomes. Tango is a product of
Argentine culture. You can market it as something else, but when it
stops resembling the culture than created it, it becomes something
else. You might still call it 'tango', but it may no longer be
Argentine, even if it was derived from something Argentine.

Argentine tango (a redundant phrase, because tango is Argentine) is
unique in that it is a dance from a particular culture that has become
popular throughout much of the world. I do not believe there is any
other social dance that has thousands upon thousands of people from
other countries flocking to the country of its origin to experience
the dance in the culture that generated it. So why ignore the culture
that generated it when we promote tango at home?

We often lose sight of the cultural context of tango. Tango cannot be
devoid of its cultural context because the culture is part of the
dance. To understand tango we need to try to understand the culture of
tango in the place of its origin. For the porten~o the dance and the
music are inseparable - the dance expresses the music. The steps are
irrelevant if they don't connect with the music. In Buenos Aires
milongas, tango is danced only to classic tango music.

So, why play any other kind of music at milongas than the music
porten~os dance tango to, the music that was designed for the dance,
the music that is part of the culture of tango? To do otherwise is to
deviate from the essence of tango.


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