La pareja

There was a discussion on Tango-L not too long ago that ties into the thoughts I have been having lately about music. A few people started talking about the choice of music and particular partners:

Skip from San Diego said:

I am one of those who likes to hear the music before deciding whether to dance and selecting a partner, and have sat out many a tanda of music I would love to dance to, because by the time the music started there was no one appropriate left to dance with. It is very common for a good follower to have a cluster of two or three men around her chatting her up (and thereby hoping to get a dance) the moment she gets off the dance floor.

Jake replied:

Have you considered dancing with someone “inappropriate”? I think this manner of picking (or trying to pick) the right partner AND the right music is a little silly sometimes… especially since it’s the DJ who picks the music /for/ the dancers. Still, I think a good DJ doesn’t disappoint, in the event that you get a partner first (and relax your expectations a little).

Other people contributed to the conversation, but I am most interested in these two remarks. I tend to feel Skip’s pain – I really like to know what music is going to come on before I agree to dance with someone. As you may have noticed, there are certain ways that I like to dance to certain music. When a vals comes on, I know what faces to scan the room for; when it’s a tango, I tend to be more open to new leaders; when it’s a milonga, I know just who I want – and won’t be as open to anyone else. So it’s frustrating to feel like I have to accept or reject an invitation without knowing what music is about to come on.

Is this silly behavior? I feel like it is completely normal – and preferable! – to try to pick the right partner for the right music. I trust my local DJs (who are fabulous) to provide me with an evening of great music, but that doesn’t mean I will enjoy all of the leaders’ styles paired up at random with that music. What do you think?

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9 thoughts on “La pareja

  1. In terms of the music/partner combination, I only really get picky with milonga. If I’m going to dance milonga, I want the right partner for it.The people that I most like dancing with, generally, I would happily dance *anything* with. Even music I don’t much like. These people I will always say yes to.There have been a few people in my tango career that I liked for tango but not milonga, or vals but not tango, etc, but not very many.I will *sometimes* not dance on the grounds that I don’t like the music. I’m not a Pugliese fan, for example, I find it tedious, because it doesn’t move me. Ditto a lot of Di Sarli. But I’d still quite happily dance Pugliese with my favouite leader.On the whole I don’t try very hard to match partner with music. We’re all too busy. I would miss too many opportunities. I regularly find that something I truly love comes on, but the person I really want to dance with is nowhere in sight. My favourite partners I’ll take whenever I can get them. But my very favourite music I often end up sitting out. A Poema with the wrong person is much worse than no Poema at all.Loving your work, btw.

  2. Dear Modern Tanguera,I feel exactly the same way as you. I would like to know what the music is before I head out to the dance floor with someone – many a time in my inexperienced tango youth have I had the horror of being trapped into a tanda of milonga with someone who couldn’t dance milonga for the life of them (and have to endure the entire tanda dancing to a muddy and confused “tango” tempo), or a Pugliese tanda with someone who will try and channel the spirit of Cosmotango – and that means ALL the moves of ALL the forty dancers involved in the festival within a space of fifteen minutes!To add to my frustration, I have a partner (Man Yung) who wants to dance everything because he loves all of it, and has the energy to dance every single tanda. He would definitely not wait to ask someone to dance! He would rush out and get someone to dance with him, and I would be stuck sitting for the tanda of Di Sarli that I had been waiting for all night! GRRRRRRRR!Cheers,Irene

  3. At the beginning I danced everything with everyone. Now, I’m getting picky. why dance some kinds of music if those persons don’t feel it the same way or are sensitive to different interpretations?Hear the music, choose a partner.. 🙂

  4. I’m with Skip. I don’t go to the level of selecting partners by orqhestra like some milongueros in BA, but I do select my partners based on the style of the music. Some partners are more suitable for the rhythmic tangos, and others for the melodic ones like.I do not understand those who invit someone to dance without knowing what music it will be, especially somewhere where the DJ does not follow a fixed pattern of tangos, valses and milongas.And yes, I do end up sitting out some good tandas. Oh! the price we pay for a perfect tango. 😉A picky tanguero

  5. Hi MT, how are you?Well, I’ve already gone on the record to say I am a very, very selective social dancer, and it seems we have a pretty unanimous consensus with Skip here.I concur with anonymous; even though I see it all the time I honestly don’t know how anyone can pre-select a dancer–or a tanda, for that matter–before the music even starts. My general suspicion is that for these people the music is of secondary importance and they just want to get out there, or perhaps the dance is just the means to something else. Or I suppose it’s possible that they just love the dance so much it doesn’t matter what they are doing it to or who with. Or, of course, that they know they will enjoy dancing with a particular person no matter what the dj plays.For me, ideally, tango has to be an honest representation of my state of being at that specific moment in time. It’s not that I’m moulding myself to fit the music, but that the music happens to be expressing something in me, right then. This is what moves me to dance. And when I feel thus inspired, I seek out someone with/through whom I can honestly channel my expression of that inspiration. Not just an empty vessel, a vehicle, but someone who suitably complements my conception of what I want to express, who is receptive to that expression, and whose collaboration will make the expression whole.

  6. Hola Mod…No, I don’t think it’s silly at all. For me, it’s not about dancing every tanda with someone different. Some go to festivals with the goal of dancing with every person there – like it’s a dance-a-thon.I like quality over quantity, and try my best to make it more of a social event (with some good vino tinto) much like it is in BA. It shouldn’t be a tango/dancing frenzy.I dance when the spirit, and the music, moves me.

  7. Wow, thank you everyone for your feedback! It seems like there’s a general consensus: Maybe there are some partners with whom you would dance anything, but for the most part we pick partners who will complement the music and the way that we want to express it/ourselves. Although some of you say it so much more eloquently than that. 😉 I’m so happy to have you reading my blog and sharing your thoughts here!

  8. No, of course it makes sense. I have my special favorite fast milonga partners, my favorite vals partners…everything is enhanced when you are dancing with a partner who is loving his favorite music.But timing is everything. It’s not always possible to wait for the most ideal partners for certain kinds of music or else we might spend the whole night waiting.

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