Wallflowers and Femme Fatales

But what if I don't want to be Femme Fatale or a Wallflower? What if I just want to dance?

" . . . all women who approach the milonga scene must learn, sooner or later, that every time they enter a milonga, they will do so as a wallflower. A woman's wallflower position will be tested every single night at the milonga, no matter how good a dancer she is. The events of the night, some of which are easier to predict than others, will bring her, more or less successfully, out of this position and closer to its opposite, the one of the dancing femme fatale. Dancing makes the difference. The wallflower becomes the femme fatale by dancing a sufficient quantity and quality of dances. But at the beginning of the night, unless she arrives with her set dancing partner, every woman wallflowers - and to a certain extent, do do men. Nobody enjoys it, and some are better at it than others."

"In order to move out of the wallflower positon, you must become an object of desire, more precisely, of tango dancing desire. An object of a doubly interwoven desire that includes the promise of becoming a potential vehicle for attaining the passionate tango state - that ephemeral sense of being bodily connected against all odds - as well as of generating desire on the part of those who watch the possibly sublime tango take place. For these are the femme fatale's witnesses and her future dance partners. In their arms, tango after tango, the milonguera - or aspiring milonguera - will move from wallflower to goddess of the milonga."(1)


Chapter 7, pg 109: From Wallflowers to Femme Fatales - Marta E. Savigliano
The passion of music and dance: body, gender and sexuality - By William Washabaugh

7 comments:

Tango Theologian said...

Mari, my comment was so long that I decided that I would dedicate an article on this subject. But as a tickler, let me ask this question... are men really so much different than women in that men chase after the packaging and the woman after the contents, when it comes to dancing? You inspire me with your articles.

tangogeoff said...

"But what if I don't want to be Femme Fatale or a Wallflower? What if I just want to dance?"

Exactly. We teach every student to lead and follow, and that it's ok to do either anytime. Many of the best leaders in town are now women, and men and women are now queuing to follow them.

msHedgehog said...

Or it could be that those two paragraphs are bullshit. I was certainly neither tonight, I had a very nice evening dancing.

Mari said...

Yeah, I'm leaning that way too, msHedgohog lol. Though one of fellow followers said she'd rather go with "femme flower". I agree - nothing in tango should be fatal, after all.

Tangogeoff - you're right and I must confess that one of my favorite leaders recently is (*gasp*) a woman.

Tango Theologian - I can hardly wait to read the article. :)

The Unknown Tango Theologian said...

Mari, you inspire me to write. On Tango Beat, I will catalogue some of the creatures in the Milonga Jungle who I tend to avoid: The Black Widow, Kitty-on-a-Leash, Dress-Down Doris, Miss Daisy, Gretel Grudge, Techno-Frau and others. Who am I that woman won't even look at me: "Mr.Brash-tard" or maybe one of Teddy's "Rough-Riders"? I'll never know, at least from Satellite-Dish Woman. That will be tomorrow. Tonight its in bed early (sleep is good). :-)

londontango said...

I think maybe the person that wrote that may not have been getting many dances in.
If I don't dance these days, it's my choice. There is always someone to dance with, even if they are not good, but I don't do that anymore.
Although I have danced with good women leads, I still prefer to dance with men. I do not have issues of dancing close with a woman, but a man brings a completely different energy to the dance that I prefer.

Mari said...

Tango Theologian - I'm dying to read about "Kitty on a leash" lol I'll have to think awhile on a clever moniker for you. ;)

Londontango - There is a slightly bitter edge to those two paragraphs. I'm getting pickier about my dances lately. Sometimes it's just a matter of self-preservation. Some partners literally hurt to dance with.

I've also danced with several female teachers and dancers (so many classes with not enough men!) Very few I've encountered lead with a strong connection. There are of course body alignment logistics involved. And the circumstances certainly affect that too. No one likes to forced to lead and if someone doesn't want to - you can feel it. There are a couple of women locally that have very strong, connected leading styles no matter who they're leading. Since I'm a complete disaster when I try to lead, I admire that quality.