Friday, 23 December 2011

Tango stories 2

Enriqueta Kleinman tells me she went to a milonga in London. It'll remain nameless because she's not sure which night it was, but she says it was in a kind of side street or alley.

'You know, I've travelled regularly in the US and Europe, and I know cabeceo isn't practiced that much outside Buenos Aires, so I know what to expect. But a guy came up to me and just pointed to me and the floor! I couldn't believe it. Like I was his cow to be pushed around! He couldn't even say please!'

This is bad, this is very bad. It's uncivil and uncivilised. It's plain rude, it's really bad manners. It's shameful. It's definitely not cool. If you say 'please' you are in a sense begging, and accepting that you can be refused, although it's still hardly fair as you know that by being polite you are making it harder for a partner to refuse you. Perhaps it wouldn't matter too much if the dance was jive, without a lot of body contact, but tango is different.

Cabeceo is simple enough. A girl looks at you, or you catch her eye. You nod. If she nods back you go over and invite her onto the floor. If she doesn't nod back you look elsewhere. What's difficult about that? But ladies have to be part of it. If you spend all evening chatting with your friends, you might find yourself complaining next morning that you didn't get any dances. If you want to dance, it helps if you keep your eyes on and around the dance floor. Fact is, there are frequently more women than men, so I guess that refusing dances might might feel wrong, but if a guy finds he's regularly refused he's going to try and improve, or get out, so it's win-win.

I didn't think of asking Enriqueta how she responded to the boorish Englishman. (English? Surely not! Must have been a visitor...) But I know her slightly, and I know her English is good, so it's quite possible that a shamefaced would-be dancer sneaked out of a milonga that night. I hope so.

8 comments:

Chris said...

London, multiple nights, side street/alley. Ah, that one...

"This is bad, this is very bad. It's uncivil and uncivilised. It's plain rude, it's really bad manners. It's shameful."

Agreed. It's sad to hear of Enrique's experience, but I think she could have guessed immediately from the music and the dancing that this was not a place she was going to enjoy. On my first and last visit, it took me about five minutes to reach that conclusion and leave.

I do hope Enrique gave some feedback to the Argentine dance teacher who runs the event. And that she tried also one of London's traditional milongas, such as Pavadita.

Happy Xmas, All.

Tangocommuter said...

'Enriqueta', please! Female of the name 'Enrique'.

She was taken wherever it was by her students. As she dances and teaches only 'milonguero' I'd be rather surprised they would have recommended the milonga run by an Argentine you are thinking of. & I doubt if that one has a monopoly on bad manners. The description of place could fit another Friday-night milonga, and probably a few other London milongas too.

& next time she's in London I'll certainly invite her to Pavadita!

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Tangocommuter,

Man Yung is suggesting that Enriqueta could have pointed at the guy, pointed to herself, and then...given him the finger!

I of course explained that Enriqueta (and most Milongueras) are ladies and they shouldn't go around gesturing like that. I on the other hand, am not either milonguera or lady, so I can flip anyone the bird anytime!

Interesting story, and I can also totally identify with the situation involving the men who say "please pretty please" just to put even more pressure on reluctant ladies to dance with them. I quote one gentleman who couldn't take no for an answer: "Could you please, please, please, please dance with me?" Oh please!

Irene (and Man Yung)

Tango en el Cielo said...

"it's quite possible that a shamefaced would-be dancer sneaked out of a milonga that night. I hope so." I hope so too, but I doubt it. Men like that tend to be thick-skinned. He probably went straight to the next woman and the next along the row until he struck lucky.

Tangocommuter said...

Monica Paz told a story of a guy in Europe doing just that, and said how shocking it was. & it is shocking: he didn't want to dance with an individual, just any woman. There's a sense of intimacy about tandas, person meeting person, in Argentina. Elsewhere it's more likely to be a display of skill. Of course, you can't get by without skill, but skill without feeling doesn't mean that much.

Maybe we should consider the 'Man Yung response'! Perhaps Irene could give workshops here!

jantango said...

I wonder what all the men in BsAs would say about Enriqueta who does the inviting at their tables.

Anonymous said...

Simple!!... Don't dance in London ..dance outside at any one of the following where the Cabaceo is used as a matter of course ...Eton..Bramshaw..Chilworth (Southampton) Bristol..Bournemouth..Oxford..Reading and many more most nights of the week...

Chris said...

Anon wrote: "Simple!!... Don't dance in London ..dance outside at any one of the following where the Cabaceo is used as a matter of course"

The use of cabaceo is notably ineffective at deterring guys who choose not to use cabaceo. Unsurprisingly. Of your recommended milongas, all I know bear this out.

What is effective is girls saying No to guys they don't want - as the typical Argentine tango girl has learnt to do in life. The only reason the UK has guys demanding dances is that girls encourage them by saying Yes - as the typical British tango girl has been taught to do in dance classes.

Eriqueta, in your UK classes, try teaching the opposite to beginners... and you'll find why it is virtually impossible.