Updated 11/20/01

El Firulete 
The Argentine Tango Magazine 
October 2001


Like Guano on Asphalt

Juan Semilla de Manzano had faced more serious problems before. He held a full time job as a VP in charge of peanut butter packaging at one of the largest conglomerates in the country. He had earned a reputation for analytical decision making based purely on logical and common sense considerations.

He must have thought that his training as a peanut connoisseur would become handy when he decided to become a Tango organizer in his spare time. Like peanuts, Tango teachers had sprouted all over the fruited land frequently knocking on his door in the hope of flavoring their bread with a few classes here and there, while waiting for a generous sponsor with discretionary income to bankroll the production of their next "ultimate" Tango show.

At work, his heart was in the right side of the bottom line. In his chosen pastime, he often found himself buttering with the same flavor and texture the already sticky palate of the dancers in his community. He was confident that he could market any-thing.
He was very resourceful when it came to mixing the most odd ingredients as long as they would contribute to close the sale and make it more profitable.

He thought that the dance business was very serious as he watched the high rated dance competitions broadcast on national television. Professional dancers from all over the world, wearing lavish and elaborated costumes have made a career of spin-ning a theatrical parody onto many dances that have roots on the cultural streets of exotic lands. He was also aware that tango dancers with lots of mileage under their feet, exchanged a smile and subtly nodded their heads in sheer disbelief, when the
"tangou" was shown on prime time.

He had witnessed how a militant urge and an almost evangelical zest to capture and preserve the heritage of the dance of the people of Buenos Aires had contributed to the renaissance and expansion of the Argentine Tango into foreign cultures. People
learning the essence and nuances of this metaphor for life, could hardly be told apart from the natives with the gift of Tango. They share a soulful purpose of inclusion, and a passionate adoration for the exhilarating intimacy and loyal friendship that the Tango brings. Others, who fail to get past the gaucho outfit, the swinging of a whip and the rose held between the teeth, amuse themselves with every possible gimmick aimed to mock, lampoon and make a parody out of what the Tango, its teachers, its performers and its dancers represent. They stand out for their reckless buffoonish attitude, for the abuse and disrespect they impose upon their partners, and by their grandiose and presumptuous delusional assumption that as cockatoos, they can dream about the silhouette of Carlos Gardel.

Juan's decision was whether to sell, "chacarera classes," an Argentine folk dance that, according to the resource-challenged "teacher" knocking at his door, "was lately being played in most milongas in Buenos Aires (and a few selected cities in the US)."
He knew the difference between a milonga, which are the places, anywhere, where milongueros go Tango dancing, and parties where shortage of skill and talent makes Tango dancing boring and repetitive that extra amusement is required. He couldn't
imagine organizing Chain Smoking, Scotch Drinking or Coffee Drinking and Making Whoopee workshops, just because these things go on as well at the milongas in Buenos Aires. Nor he had forgotten the words of a wise man who first helped him step over the threshold of truth and consequences: "chacarera dancing, like high school skits, stand out at a milonga like guano on asphalt."

Alberto Paz
Copyright (c) 2001, Planet Tango. All Rights Reserved

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