The exaggerated boasting of some returning travelers and the generous eagerness of foreign visitors have created in the otherwise private environment where thousands of Argentines cultivate the social art of tango dancing in Buenos Aires, the perception that the world out there can’t have enough of Argentine tango dancers. The sudden explosion of the Argentine tango around the world has shaken the fundamental essence of the personal interrelation of a man and a woman engaged in a sensual embrace enjoying the beat and the melody of one of the thousands of tangos written so they could be appreciated on the dance floor. The success of Forever Tango and Tango x 2, two critically acclaimed stage shows, has captured the imagination of many people and inspired others to consider tango dancing. Unfortunately, these shows and the ones tourists catch in Buenos Aires, do not have disclaimers that say, “warning, the performers on stage are professionals and they have trained for years to execute the breathtaking choreography you are watching. Please do not attempt to imitate, emulate or try these stunts at home.”
Occasionally unscrupulous performers may hustle students by showing off at a local milonga, however, show dancers in Buenos Aires show up at the milongas to dance with that unmistakable look and feel of the well known and the not so well known Argentinos who dance every beat and every silence of the music with understated simplicity. While traveling abroad these professionals occupy their free time taking ballet or modern dance classes, they go to the gym to stay in shape, they attend yoga classes, they shop and above all, they rehearse every day to be ready to deliver every night a top notch performance. Many who have enjoyed and loved these performances, appreciate the work ethics and the social manners of the talented show dancers. They also value the increased awareness for the tango these shows create. Yet, in some American cities some aggressive women and some insensitive men lie to themselves by professing a passion for the dance and a religious admiration for that unmistakable look and feel of the Argentinos who dance on the floor. Then they fall for the latest fad, they “ooh-and-aah” at the latest contraption that hits the dance floor and they enact their denial by becoming amateur performers on the social floor.
This can be very intimidating for those who feel the attraction for the dance at the social level, and annoying for those who are working hard on learning the techniques and methods to circulate on the dance floor; to develop a good and comfortable posture; to feel the floor under their feet; to attempt to master the art of improvisation; above all to care and mind the person they are holding in their arms. These are the people who are missed the most when they decide to stay home. These are the people who form the core of the most enjoyable milongas and the ones who deserve the best music, the best teachers, and the best dance floors. The one who appreciate the best information and earn our deepest gratitude for keeping the tradition alive and letting the tango change their lives without pretending to change the tango.
When they go, it’ll be time to turn the lights off. Then across America we will have more “legends” and “world’s most popular” hustlers encouraging an uptight and repressed society to become tango hot dogs. Please, pass the mustard…