tango manners

Why we believe that dancing with better dancers makes us dance better

Why we believe that dancing with better dancers makes us dance better

There exists a belief in tango community that sounds something like this: “If I get to dance with better dancers, my dancing will improve much faster than if I only dance with people of my own level.” Or like this: “Experienced dancers should dance more with beginners. How are these poor souls supposed to learn if they are stuck with other beginners?” A female student leaving a class with the words: “Every new follower should be given a very good leader from the start! If we wait for these men here to become decent dancers, we will be waiting forever!”

Dear Tangueros & Tangueras...

A tango message from Chicho Frumboli translated and shared by Julia Schiptsova.

There is nothing worse in tango than believing that we dance well and have a “level”. A boleo, a sacada, a gancho, a colgada executed more or less in the rhythm, and we already feel that we are “experts”, “critics”, “professionals”... Tango has “this” that for my generation is something new. My generation worked every day to understand, grow, and improve, because the information wasn’t as clear as it is for today’s generations. To investigate, discover, get together with friends to practice what we have studied and learned in a class…. it all seems as if it were from another age...

It’s not easy to keep “motivation” in any part of life. Having a routine, or following a pattern is comfortable for some; for others, routine can be crushing and destructive in terms of both learning and creativity. Some leaders and followers say it’s hard to find a partner to take classes with or to dance with in milongas, someone “who would be at my level” as they describe it, but have they ever questioned if they themselves have that “level”?? I say this because of the competition that exists today.

When learning tango, we have to think of being open and available just as much as in listening to our own bodies and in controlling certain moves that we maybe never thought we could get, in learning about the dynamics, the musicality, the syncopation, the dialog. The technique is the same for men and women, the only difference is that one leads and the other follows. However, I see that often men focus on the movement, without thinking what they express with it, a lot of times those movements have no content and appear more like a monologue that doesn’t include their partner. Hiding behind the movement impairs our ability to commit to the emotions or to another human being in that moment. And women want to be led that boleo that they have perfected and also to be able to connect…. But what if the Wi-Fi isn’t working well? What if this time the Bluetooth is failing us? What do we do??? Abandon it all???

After working for Tango for over 20 years, investigating and creating ever since discovering it, I can tell that my technique is based on “giving and receiving”, listening and responding, on having a dialogue… those who are familiar with it know that it’s what it is. There are not many generous people in tango. What does the “LEVEL” mean? Maybe it’s something that allows us to be a part? To belong to a select group of people who woke up one day and decided that they can convert into critics and look down at others from a different height?? Or is it someone who is aware that there is always something to learn and is available to share? “Outfits” don’t make one a tanguero, a “high boleo” doesn’t make one a tanguera.

What does make us tangueros is the sentiments that we dance and listen to, it’s not only the connection, but also the sentiments for the music, for the shared movement, for the enjoyment of a tanda, with whomever, without thinking of their LEVEL. Learning is a divine state, a beautiful process of exploring. Let’s do it for the tango as the tango has been doing a lot for us. Let’s study it, understand it, take care of it, instead of destroying it with our human banalities.

Let’s caress, embrace, let’s dance with love. The more we give… the more we will receive… The trends, the critics, the experts - none of it exists in Tango. Let’s not contaminate it. I’m waiting for you to enjoy, to have a good time and to share with both, MEN and WOMEN, those who would like to keep growing, who feel that Tango keeps “motivating” them, those who would like to be a part and belong to its world, without the limits. Abrazo!
— Mariano “Chicho” Frumboli
Chicho Frumboli & Juana Sepulveda

Chicho Frumboli & Juana Sepulveda

Los Códigos del Tango (the tango rules of etiquette)

"I left the first milonga I attended after—maybe, at my most conservative guess—an entire seven minutes. In those seven bewildered and embarrassed minutes, I quit tango, hated all humanity (well, that’s nothing new), and had an existential crisis."

In a milonga, it's rude to get up and ask someone to dance, “thank you” does not mean “thank you,” and unusually prolonged eye-contact is entirely legitimate.