--Carefully select your dancepartner

Ask the people in the street what image they have of Tangodancing, and they'll come up with words as 'passion, erotism, beauty, increadible legwork sharp as knives'. Their image mostly comes from shows they have seen in theatre or on television.

When those people visit a milonga, they may not exactly find those images, but if they're grabbed by what they see there, it is often the image of the dancers having a misterious understanding with eachother, lead and follow without fixed patterns, improvisation, closeness, intimacy, romance. If they're not grabbed, it is because they think it looks boring and they do not discover that special contact between dancers, and definatly observed no sensuality. wow, do those things happen too?

Ask experienced tangodancers why they themselves dance tango and they will tell you about 'passion, interaction, improvisation, sensuality, becoming one body with four legs, 2 persons becoming one with the music, the music being the third party to dance with'. That's a slightly different approach. And if you'd ask them about the erotic side of tango, they'll better you with: "no, not sex, but sensuality". Even they may reproduce the wellknown phrase: "Tango is a sad thought one can dance on", no matter how much fun they're having doing it.

Isn't this just an overload of political correctness? Do the dancers in a milonga really improvise so much? Isn't that cross-step mostly done in a rush, double tempo, and could that then be done with sensuality? How dancers approach eachother, is that like going to embrace that person, or is that just the way one's suppososed to get hold of eachothers 'manouvring handles'?

No fixed patterns? Wasn't that the 'sandwich-step', that's done the same way worldwide? Step to the left, step to the left with backward ocho for the lady, backwards ocho for the lady, feet touch, sandwich(!) 3 feet together, guy stepping backwards, ocho forwards for the lady, both closing and finish with step 6, 7, 8..., done!
Well, that certainly isn't anything close to improvisation. Mostly, the sequences of steps once learned in that order, are being repeated over and over. Gancho's are done as kicks as if the lady tells the guy, "You better be carefull with me or I'll just as easy kick your balls".

When people dance this kind of spectacular moves they seem to have forgotten their own claims of tango being sensual, intimate and improvised. If tangueros dance at the milonga rhythm, how many of their steps are improvised and fitting the music? Very little or none. Often it's no more than accelerated tangopatterns. Of course there're really good dancers as well, who do not dance bad, boring, out of the music or without sensuality. Let's get them off the hook for now and let's say, most of the above described behaviour happens in the beginners levels, like beginners I to very advanced beginners, level 'ultimo XX'. If that's the case, then who teaches those people in that way? Why would they first learn how to do it wrong, as if good dancing is only reachable after years of practising too difficult steps?

Because that's what's done a lot on the dancefloors: people are practising. Practising exactly those things that aren't essential for the dancing of tango. Steps, the whole serie of 8 basic steps in a row and those steps over and over again. The intermediate levels don't do so much better. They can do 'ganchos, sandwiches, giros' and they're becoming masters in filling the time with all the sequences learned. Of course the advanced dancers make the same mistakes. Their advancement is measured in the repertory of sequences, jumps, fast turns, sacadas and not in their skill of being sensual, sensitive or being 'one with their partner and the music'.

Do not dance with just anybody. You must have a special feeling with this person. Because if not, you'll only go on the dance floor to practise your steps and that's exactly the thing that keeps you from dancing Tango. Don't let people you don't feel a wish to communicate and share intimacy with, take you on the dancefloor. Tango is not about being nice. Tango is about 'passion, interaction, improvisation, sensuality, becoming one body with four legs, 2 persons becoming one with the music, the music being the third party to dance with', remember?

This is why you must carefully select your dancepartner. Observe, observe, and after that, see if that other person also observes you. And then see if your eyes meet for an understanding: "I want to tango with you...". If you're not clear about this, you may be only socialising and practising steps.

Rob Nuijten (the editor)