Talking at the milonga

Silence is Golden

Part 1:

Just a warning. If you bring up business/work/politics I will try to listen, but I will likely forget everything you've said by the time we stop dancing. So if you need a response to something, an answer, or a commitment of some kind - email me. Any business matters at hand dissolve in my brain as soon as the music starts. You've been warned. Email me.

Part 2:

Twice this weekend I was informed that the conversation my partner was having with me on the pista was loud enough to be heard by other dancers. And that's annoying. They're right, it is. I hate listening to the couple behind me prattle on and on when I'm trying to listen to the music - so I know how annoying it is. This weekend there were a couple of times when several dancers were talking so loudly that no one could hear the music. I'm sure before I realized that, I had been contributing to that din. My critics were correct that it is disrespectful to the music and to the other dancers. To dance well, we must listen well, and if we're talking, then we're at most, only half listening. The music deserves more than that - or why dance?

Message received.
Shutting up.


Kirra said...

Talking and dancing is like texting and driving, it just shouldn't be done.

stephanie said...

I wholeheartedly agree but I must confess... I've done it.

Once, with one man, during one milonga. We were enjoying ourselves so much and we started talking, not the whole time but some.... and we were apoligizing to each other: "sorry, usually I don't talk when I dance...."

Sooo sorry....

Anonymous said...

When you are dancing you are dancing. Though singing along to the music is acceptable. If you sing or hum, it means that you are paying attention to the music. I like being sung to, especially if the man is singing with feeling. They have always been Argentine!
If someone tries to have a conversation with me while dancing, I will tell them that we need to focus on the music and chat later. Chatting is what one does in-between dances.

Mari said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! As straightforward as the idea is - that if you're talking, you're not listening, it can be very easy to slip into a conversation accidentally - especially if either or both partners are nervous (or overly prone to chattiness *cough*cough*). Now that I've been "busted" for it, I'll be much more aware.

Now, as Londontango said, singing and humming along to the music = love. Nearly every Argentine man I've danced (granted, that amounts to about 5) with has done it and maybe 5 or 6 non-Argentine local dancers do it. It's by no means a requirement for my enjoyment of the dance - it's just something (okay, yet one more thing) that brings a smile to my face. Literally. Notice my profile picture? He was humming. :-)

Margo Romero said...

First, let me say I'm a new reader to your blog... I very much enjoy reading you along with Twists & Tango... Thanks for your posts, I've learned so much...

Regarding this post, I feel the same way... I believe Tango should be silent communication. However, at my first Milonga here in my new city, I met someone who wanted to talk while we softly tangoed... and it was ok, he just needed to express I guess...

The atmosphere of that Milonga was very laid back, however, as most of the more advanced Tango dancers and the Tango Masters knew we were beginners. In a more "formal" milonga it might be different... I've yet to see...

I'd love to dance with someone that hums though... =)

Anonymous said...

Americans have gotten the idea that one is obligated to chat between dances. Not so. If there is any conversation, it is brief and only about the music (among the milongueros, that is) since one's life is left at the door of a milonga. It has gotten to the point in BsAs that the talking never stops. People get to the floor primarily for conversation. I'm not referring only to foreigners, but Argentines as well. It's annoying to say the least when I am there to listen to the music.

So as not to contribute to the "noise" pollution at a milonga, I have told the men with whom I dance that I don't want to talk. If we say anything between dances, it is brief and whispered so that we aren't contributing to the pollution. We are there to dance.

We can't do two things--talk and listen--at the same time. The navigation problems arise when those dancers try to carry on a conversation instead of listening to the music.

I wrote about "chatter" on my blog as well. Thanks for addressing the issue on yours.

Mari said...

Margo - thank you for reading - I like your blog too. I've noticed that some milongas are more prone to chitchat than others. I'm not sure why. I have noticed that the most experienced dancers tend to talk very little. My problem is the whole "walking and chewing gum" thing - I can't do two things at once, so I have to listen to the music carefully or I just can't dance well. No multitasking for me!

Jantango - I'll have to check out your post. I have noticed that it seems to be getting worse here as well - not just with people on the pista talking loudly, but people at the tables holding very loud conversations. We are prone to talking here far more than BsAs of course, but when dancers can no longer hear the music, that's gotten way out of hand.

Anonymous said...

when you try to be distant
instead of seeking
the connection with
your being,
you talk. does it feel better?

Ferdinand the Bull said...

I hope it's OK to pick up an old, but still relevant thread. I have more questions than answers on talking at a milonga. I used to travel a long way to dance and could only do so every few weeks, so I tried to dance much and talk little. Then I noticed that the regulars talked a lot and I thought more verbal connection might help with the dance connection. Maybe the more ways you connect with people, the more they empathize with you and the less they will objectify or judge you. Also, many ladies say that if they talk with you awhile off the dance floor, they are more willing to accept a dance.

I've always wondered what people talk about before the dance starts. I used to start as soon as the music does, but that can be a problem if no one else is moving and it's good to listen to the music before you start. Standing face to face with a lady neither dancing nor talking seems awkward, so I try to make small talk. I admit that I fall into patterns that are a bit dull. Complement her clothes, hair, etc. Ask about the where, when, and how long of their tango education. People talk about other tango events. Sometimes I ask specifics about their lessons. This information is useful, but limited. Sometimes I talk about the song that's starting if I know the words, or performed it or heard it in a movie.

What do the other people talk about that seems to animate them so?

Tango dancers are more cosmopolitan than most people, and more intelligent. It would be interesting to talk more with them about their experiences with Argentina's democratization, working in the Peace Corps, being a social worker in Houston, the gangs they saw in Guatemala or whatever. Sometimes I really connect with someone this way, but I do so cautiously, knowing that most people, smart as they may be, don't want to have these conversations. Which returns me to the limited, where-did-you-learn to dance questions. I suppose you could gossip, but that works best if you are inside the tango hierarchy, and even then it's not the most fascinating conversation.

Sometimes people who come together for a hobby find little to talk about but the hobby. Maybe that's OK. Maybe in a secular society people gather less based on religious or family affiliations, and more on cultural ones, which probably offers more intellectual and personal freedom.