El Firulete
The Argentine Tango E-zine
June 1997

It's party time!

SUDDENLY THIS TANGO THING HAS SPREAD OUT LIKE a forest fire. In California we are very much aware of the dangers posed by the raging flames that move in quickly to engulf the dreams and possessions of ordinary people. Somehow there is an unwritten set of social behaviors that takes into consideration the menacing consequences of thoughtless conduct. For tango to continue to grow without razing lives and people, people need to understand that their behavior and the behavior of others must produce pleasant surroundings to enjoy the dance, the music and the dancers. In our communities there is a limited number of possibilities, and the choices are scarce, which makes it more difficult to find those enjoyable evenings of tango and nothing else. We must be grateful to the large number of people who choose freely to organize, host, keep places open for the rest of us to go tango dancing.

The Argentine tango is addictive and intoxicating. It takes over people's lives. At its best it brings the exhilaration of the passion and romance intrinsically built into its music, its choreography, its lores and mysteries. At its worse, it is a fertile ground for the trafficking of drugs, promiscuity, violence and abuse. We all, without exception, have agreed to look the other way on the seediest aspects of the tango world and some of its most notorious characters. This can be good because it allows the tango to reach and touch more people, but it can also be bad because more people silently walk away and lose touch with the tango.

In Buenos Aires people dance tango in crowded milongas with plenty of illumination. The lights go down in anticipation of the Tropical, Jazz or Swing tandas, and at that magic hour of the early morning when the Pugliese set is played. I believe that the reason for the bright lights is the very essence of tango dancing: something to see and be seen. The tango experience encompasses the joy of dancing it, and watching others dance it. It is a dance of two but not a lonely dance.

The much touted passion, romance and rapture invoked by many would lead us to believe that people would stay home, light some candles, turn on the stereo and dance until their bodies melt into one steaming, breathtaking, uncontrolled mass of flesh and desire. I don't think so.

We want to go where we can see and be seen. We want to show off. We want to excel. We want to dream about holding Milena, or being held by Miguel, while Binelli leads the staccato attack of Gallo Ciego. We want to dream and nothing else. Because tango is a milonga. Tango is joy. Tango is happiness. Tango is a big party. And the party continues. It gets better. First it was Miami, then Columbus and now Stanford. The great get togethers of tango lovers. The great opportunity to have a ball or two. The great moments to treasure and keep forever in our Unforgettable Experiences memory bank.

This concept is what has brought back the tango in Buenos Aires. There is more substance and less symbolism. The younger generation, freed from the traditionalist fanatics who came close to killing the tango with their strict codes of behavior, have taken the torch and have become the life of the party. They wear jeans, shorts, miniskirts, tennis shoes, dye their hair, and interestingly enough, they jam with the old-timers who have come to realize that youth brings an exciting new revival to this thing we love and protect so much. So, let's join the crowd and become the life and soul of the party. Remember though, that we are still talking about tango. The Argentine tango with its culture, its social mores and its people. Let's also remember that many choose to freely offer places to go tango dancing. Let's be grateful to them and let's help them be successful by keeping in mind that tango is a great party and we are the life and soul of the party.

Alberto Paz
Copyright (c) 1997, Planet Tango. All Rights Reserved
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