Men's Strategies

A recent thread, called "Men's Strategies [for dancing in Buenos Aires]" on Tango-L got me thinking about the codigos again. Austin isn't Buenos Aires, and my expectations are, for the most part, adjusted accordingly. I'm not making a character judgment based on whether a dancer follows the codigos. (I know that might seem hard to believe after reading some of my posts, but it's true.) And I'm not offended or hurt or angry when a gentleman doesn't walk me off the pista after a tanda.

But here's something to keep in mind from a dancer on Tango-L, regarding this particular aspect of the milonga codes:

"Sometimes the friendships are so familiar and casual that the man does not escort [the follower] back to her chair.. However, I find that if the man really appreciates and enjoys the tanda he had with me, his final and most all-encompassing thank you and sign of respect and appreciation is to escort me all the way back to my seat, not just to the aisle. Typically, they hold your hand the whole way back to the seat or leave their arm around your waist, it is a very flattering way to let you know that you are a Diosa (goddess). Even what appears to be some very rustic men, maybe from the Provincias, extend this incredible courtesy, as though the woman has just performed her heart out for him and has to be assisted back to her seat to recover...very nice... how often do we see this in communities outside of BsAs....not so much...."

Some gentlemen leave me in the middle of the pista after a tanda, which doesn't particularly make me feel one way or another about him (unless it's very, very abrupt.) Like I said, it's not that I think it's rude - it's just not, well, . . . anything. Then there are a few men who walk me back to my seat (our milongas don't really have more than one row of seating), holding my hand and making me feel like I'm valued and cared for. Followers remember that kind of thing.

So really, I'm just asking . . . Which tanguero would you rather be?


Andrew Abrams said...

...and we open doors for the ladies as well.

Terpsichoral said...

This is one of the things I love in Buenos Aires. Many of the leaders hug me and kiss me on the end of the cheek at the end of the tanda. And then, when they walk you back to your seat with their arms around you, beaming at you, they make you feel as though they can hardly bring themselves to break the embrace and tear themselves away. I love it!

happyseaurchin said...

That's a funny one for me. I used to walk my partners back to their chair, and I still, even after so many of them don't seem to acknowledge it and are indeed surprised when they turn round to sit and there I am, with a bow.

I never did this out of formality, it emerged on its own accord, born out of a rather more intense experience I started getting used to, but now no longer practice. I used to accompany a woman back to her chair and ask if I could sit with her. There I would rest with her, and should a conversation ensue, all the better. Indeed, because my approach to tango is a little odd, there is often some related discussion. What I found was that a conversation could go as deep as the tango had.

With some, it was pretty shallow, with others, it went into some depth into their lives. I used to do this at parties, really engage with people, taking advantage that we were strangers with one another and thus free to reveal anything. Add to that an intense and meaningful experience of a tango, and I just thought it a part of the whole thing. It enriched my tango experience, and made the rather cold and formal thing that many milongas, into a much more human and shared experience.

If I ever run a milonga, I'd hope that dancers would pick up this practice. No need for explanations and justifications, simply a reflection of the depth of tango. I am not into formality, but in the central and essential aspect of what tango brings us. Closer, in my opinion, to ourselves, to each other.

Be well!

Tango Therapist said...

Mari... this is a subject I know well from returning so many women to their seats in so many different communities. In Germany, the women would especially look at me strangely if I put out my arm and took them back to their seats. Since that time, I have said, "Let's pretend we are in Buenos Aires for the evening." They laugh and "allow" the fantasy. Shouldn't every milonga be an evening in BsAs? :-)

On the other hand, my practice partner tells me that I only delay a woman in a non-tango-etiquette community from getting another dance. The short cortinas and "feeding frenzy" that goes on in DC makes the "next-dance transaction" go very fast. A gentleman may ruin a tanguera's chances of getting her next dance by taking her to her chair. So in DC I sometime take the tanguera to the edge of the dance floor. If she is enjoying the ride, I take her all the way to her chair.

Terpsichoral said...

Happyseaurchin: though I'd be happy to chat to you at a moment of a lull in the dancing, I'd actually find it a little annoying if you wanted to sit and talk and thus prevented me from having the opportunity to dance with someone I really wanted to dance with. If my favourite orchestra was sounding, say, and dream partner was eyeing me intensely, for example, I can imagine that our conversation would be pretty superficial. I would just be wishing you would go away and leave me in peace to dance! In London, where there are not so many good dancers, there can be many lulls and opportunities for talk. But in some of the BA milongas, like El Beso, where I can dance with wonderful leaders all night long, I really want to do so. On a practical note, I'd suggest, when you escort the woman back to her chair, you do it BA-style, with your arm around her. That feels warm and friendly and that way she won't be "surprised" to find you there!

Anonymous said...

I've never been to Bs As and I can well imagine what you experienced with German women, Tango Therapist. Perhaps they looked strangely because they are just not used to be returned to their seats. However, I'm quite sure that women all over the world, whether used to it or not, would like to get used to it. I don't know any woman who does not like to be flattered - in this case provided that they enjoyed the dance, of course. So why not always pretend we are in Bs As?
I would not like to enter into conversation after dancing, though, as this is not the reason why I go to milongas, happyseaurchin. This might ruin my chance for another dance, but not being returned to my seat.

Anonymous said...

2 things: First, often we agree to dance when the lady isn't at her seat (like end of last tanda), so I don't even know where she is sitting. Second, I'm married and not really comfortable with walking arm in arm or holding hands with another woman. And I think it's a little disrespectful to my spouse.

Marika said...

Anonymous 1: Good points - thank you for your comments.

Anonymous #2: To your two points:

1. Every community is different so I wonder if yours does not clear the floor during cortinas so that people return to their seats? I am very, very rarely invited to dance while still on the dance floor. Sometimes I am asked while at the snack table or something like that, in which case my partner returns me to where he found me (which is usually where my glass are anyway lol).

2. I don't require a man have his arm around me or hold my hand to consider him to be courteously escorting me to my seat. But my husband wouldn't be any more offended by the gesture than he would someone opening a door for me. Again, my community may be very different than yours. We're a pretty huggy, affectionate community.

Now, my husband *would* be annoyed if he saw a gentleman drop me in the middle of the dance floor after a tanda, like a discarded kleenex. He would consider that rude - while escorting someone to their table, hand-holding or no (after all we're not talking about groping here) he would consider to be simply part of the cultural norm.

What is considered disrespectful between you and your wife is your business and obviously you have to follow what's comfortable for the both of you. I think it would be a mistake, however, to assume others view it the same way - or should.

Marika said...

oops - that should read, "where my glasses (as in eyeglasses) are anyway."

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mari Johnson, for pointing out that walking the woman back to her place is actually part of a ritual or "cultural norm". I wouldn't want to be invited by a man who worries about his wife while he is dancing with me (including walking me back to my seat). I've not met with many guys who went so far as to hold my hand when returning me to my seat, but I like it.
Perhaps you and your wife should try something else, Anonymous 2. Tango dancing requires a bit more than you are willing to give, I'm afraid. And this has nothing to do with whether you are a "hugging community".
Anonymous 1