Monday, May 7, 2012

A new beginning

I wonder if there's a point of posting at all, since nobody reads this. Even I had forgotten about the existence of this blog. But I still think it's worth posting a reflection from my meeting with tango legend Miguel Angel Zotto. I've never seen any professional dancer so laid back, so relaxed, so tolerant, so humble, yet so confident, so mature, yet so youthful as Zotto. Most professional dancers are snobs, but the master of masters is pretty much the opposite of a snob. This was quite a surprise given the legendary status he has. If he is not a snob, then I have absolutely no ground on which to be a snob. I guess this was pretty obvious to everyone from the very start but me. I don't know if I can change the title of the blog, but even if I can't, the tone of the posts (rare as they are) will certainly change. We had an interesting conversation about the codigos. Having seen him in person, I have realized that he encompasses all styles of Tango Argentino. He is a stage dancer, yet at the same time he is an old fashioned milonguero. To many, this is an oxymoron, but he converges at these two seemingly irreconcilable styles beautifully. His old fashioned self has great respect for the codigos of the milonga. Yet he stresses how the codigos should be upheld because of their usefulness, rather than arbitrarily only because it is tradition. Codigos exist for practicality; it should be adapted according to the times and circumstances - else the purpose is defeated. I hope people learn not only his steps, but his wisdom from his age and experience. Gracias, Miguel!


  1. I suspect that people who reject the codes as archaic, sexist or simply quaint, probably don't understand them or know how to use them.

    A good example is the cabeceo. At first the cabeceo may seem challenging. It requires self-confidence. But once mastered, it is respectful and empowering for all concerned. It allows men and women to choose their partners for a tanda. No need to offend people by turning them down, or dancing with someone just to be "nice", or putting up with a person's poor personal hygiene, etc.

    My observation has been that the codes raise the standard of dance and behaviour at a milonga. Those who reject the codes may not realise it but their easy option slowly but surely leads to chaos on the dancefloor.

    1. On the subject of tango snobs, you may enjoy this entry from my own blog. And perhaps we can share the link love?

    2. thanks for the interesting read. However, my snobbishness was never about only dancing with competent followers. I was a snob for those with no respect, love, or an understanding for tango, or those who completely misunderstood it. I have always been happy to dance with anyone, young or old, skinny or fat, ugly or pretty, beginner or professional, as long as they showed the right attitude. Not to imply that it is a privilege to dance with me, but it's hard for me to want to dance with people who are in the scene for anything else that is not love for tango music and culture. ie people who are under the impression that tango is about doing as many steps as possible and doing many pretty adornos and dancing better than others in a competition. But anyway, all this is no longer, for I have vowed to take the perhaps selfish path of loving tango and not spending energy on even caring about people who do not. In a way, perhaps this is even more snobbish, but at least it is concealed from the surface and avoids uncomfortable situations in a milonga. I can't see anyone describing my tolerance as arrogance

  2. Hi there!

    Happy New Year 2013!

    If you continue writing about Tango, your post would be posted on So it would be worth the effort! Just let us know (
    Best, Anthony, Crew

  3. (Sorry for the Anon- don't have those listed accounts)... The snob idea... sad it's such a prevalent concept in tango, sordid as its course may have been (I don't know how much ballet was done in brothels, e.g.)- but you're right. In a stellar display of ignorance not well obfuscated by all that posing, those skimpy dresses, those tacky $100 used car salesman's shirts, people say "tango snob" to indicate one who prefers to dance within skill level. Do we call Rod Laver a tennis snob? OK, Derek Jeter a baseball ditto? Wake up, Poserdom- it's got f-all to do with snobbery. What IS the snobbery is blindingly apparent: the table cliques who won't deign to dance with those from other tables; the various sharks/golddiggers who aren't there to feel nice about dancing but play the salle for a middle-age meat market (my faves are the women who are obviously cruising- more of that historical thing, I guess- one of whom has a line about no man since her husband yet works the floor until she finds some new dance partner- then disappears from the milongas for awhile on a trip- then repeats the drill- and has a pillow count at home that might indicate other than that 10 year line...). The honest-seeming folks though- are great. Just as you- go to dance for the sake of the dance. They do it in swing, where you are encouraged to rotate (and it goes back to dance card days as well), somewhat in ballroom... maybe... but tango is pretty raw for snobs. It's great to see a real couple work the floor, more than for just their mutual affinity, but really, it's funny to watch the classism/elitism. Even the old dudes who present this stuff. One guy lives off his heiress wife, and has to touch every new piece of tail who walks in (even when just speaking with her... touch...touch...touch); another one has lived with mommy all his life (now like 60 y.o.), and chases any new meat into the ballroom with his tongue hanging out; someone has to put down the actual pros he deals with because he's so insecure and such a victim of NPD- but feels like a real lady killer for it, I guess. The younger dancers actually do seem more open minded- maybe that's less jaded. Not stuck in the rut of personal meaninglessness with their screwed up family lives, divorces, w.h.y., they can just go have fun. Again, snob is typically defined as "a person with an exaggerated respect for high social position or wealth who seeks to associate with social superiors and dislikes people or activities regarded as lower-class..." What that has to do with others' artistic understanding- some people have likely performed or recorded more music than most of you, but really don't need the classist thing as to "this piece done by so-and-so is the best and you ain't s..."; likewise the ballet pros (not that Russian poser with a milonga- whose own country people say "She ees nobodee outside") who aren't into the cliques, yet aren't viewed as "one of us" by them either. Proficiency isn't snobbery, love of the music isn't (there is a quite famous bandoneonist in town who is such a purist for Piazzolla that he can't stand to listen to others- besides himself- play his work, but he has every right to be selective. After playing with Dudamel, he can afford to be). Snobbery is the self-aggrandizement of those not really there (a Mr. Bowie, as some of his contemporaries, weren't snobs- they were just great and could accept others as who they are, garage band to stadium). As such, they really belong in their own ether- maybe some musty big grey room with lots of mirrors. That sort of elitism doesn't get anyone ahead as much as make them look stupid. Like the always-at-mom's-house milonga presenter whom the sugar-mommy-wife milonga presenter calls a "momma's boy". Catty little nobody gossips can be snobs; true enthusiasts don't waste their time; they're too busy being realistic.