Tango Argentino > first signal of closed embrace

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by olamalam, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I've never heard that stated as a cardinal rule before. As far as I'm concerned, it's a preference, (albeit a common one), but not a rule.
    vit and sixela like this.
  2. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    You answered your own question, didn't you?

    Ricardo Vidort didn't analyze tango, he felt it. His tango didn't come from thinking about steps; it came from his heart and soul.

    That concept is almost lost today in the tango world where teachers need to keep their students coming back for more information so they can pay the rent.
    tangomaniac likes this.
  3. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    It's worse than that, Janis. The emphasis is on STEPS, not connection. Men know what THEY want and they think women want the same thing. BUT women aren't interested in steps and figures. I didn't realize this until my teacher, Joe, gave me an out-of-print book Men are from Mars. Women are from Buenos Aires. Visiting Buenos Aires and observing that Argentines only know seven figures and they are CONTENT with only knowing seven was eye opening. NOTE: Colgaldas wasn't one of the seven.
  4. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    Well...the follows who do constant unled boleos and who won't stop ochoing might disagree.
    dchester likes this.
  5. JTh

    JTh Member

    Im a bit surprised if this is true ( and it may be, im not sure). I would have thought what keeps people coming back for more is the satisfaction from the connection and not the steps per se. As such, the satisfaction from the connection is what pays the bills for the dance studio.
    I would have thought that if people continue for the steps purely, they would switch to salsa or something else that is more flashy.
  6. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    And how many are there? They are in the distinct minority of followers.
  7. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Here are data points for my area:

    Studio that teaches open embrace and steps: 50 Tango students. Maybe 1/4 of the students move on to the 2nd level class, but tend to keep taking the 2nd level class for extended times.

    Studio that teaches some open embrace, some close embrace, some steps, and some basics: 10 students. Students tend to keep coming back for years.

    The other four studios that teach close embrace and fundamentals (and criticize the studios that teach steps): 10 students. That's 10 students across all four studios combined! BTW, the studio that is most vocal in its criticism of teaching steps often has no Tango students! Also, the students they do have are usually very experienced and are continuing their lifetime Tango education; these studios rarely attract new people to Tango.

    Interestingly, the studio with 50 Tango students seems to rarely produce Milonga goers. The 10 student studio has maybe 2/3 of its students going to Milongas. The starving studios have 100% of their students going to Milongas, yes, all 10 of them.

    So if your metric is percent of people that come back, yes the close embrace connection clearly wins at near 100%. If you ask if that initially attracts people to Tango, it seems the answer is no.

    This might be just my area, but there does seem to be a big age divide. The Salsa classes tend to be much younger, and the Tango people tend to be older. It's not a strict divide, but maybe something like 25% of the Salsa students are over age 40 and around 25% of the Tango students are under age 30.

    I don't think most students equate learning steps to being flashy, nor do I think they want to be flashy. I think it is things like this:
    • It is comfortable being told which steps to do
    • It is easier if both the lead and follow know what they are supposed to be doing -- the steps still can "work" even if the lead isn't perfect or the following isn't perfect
    • It is easier to know if you are doing it "right" or "wrong" (yes, you might have horrible lead or follow skills, but by Enrique Blanco your feet hit the designated spots on the floor in the right order!)
    • The studio tends to pick music good for the steps -- this is much easier than figuring out good steps to go with the music!
    • For the record, the steps instructors do often say you don't dance at a Milonga with rote steps like in class, and sometimes they'll have the class mix things up a bit.
    • The steps studios are open embrace, close embrace is a tough sell to new students.
    BTW I am struggling with my close embrace education. I can walk and do a handful of moves with DW, and can walk with an instructor who is a really good follower. A different instructor was teaching me some CE stuff at a practica. She said "First, you have to want to get that close to your partner." I have not told her about my Tango Distanceness, but maybe she could just tell somehow. Maybe that's a broader swath of the population than you'd think.
    c955, Mladenac and TomTango like this.
  8. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    It's the connection with the music that we're seeking. We try of make the climax of one sequence coincidate with the climax of the music, and if you know that the musical climax comes in a certain number of tempi, then a move which fits with the available space and has it's climax also at the same number of tempi, will come in handy. Hence the need of vocabulary.
    And salsa, well it sounds like a mere beatbox. There is not much to connect with.
    Mladenac likes this.
  9. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Sorry, newbie, but you got me to defend salsa ;) As for tango, salsa also has a bunch of different styles, rhythms, and speed. I can find a lot of connection in this Bolero-Son, for instance.
  10. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Sooner or later the young crowd will end up in a tango class. There is much more competition among the girls in salsa and the guys have actually to cope with really complicated rhythms.
  11. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    Salsa's attraction is in the arms and hips; tango's is four legs.
  12. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    How was this determined? Did you conduct a global scientific survey?

    To be clear, I don't think there's anything wrong with what you're saying about your preferences for the dance, but in my limited experience of dancing in various places, I've seen no evidence that all (or even most) followers want the same thing.
  13. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    Non-dancers, in my experience, barely have tango on their radar, and those that do have only seen it through
    • Dancing with the Stars
    • Movies like True Lies and Scent of a Woman
    Argentine tango as a social dance just doesn't have any representation in popular American culture. Contrast this with other dances: you mention salsa, and most non-dancers think "party latin rhythms," which isn't too far off. You mention lindy hop and they think "big energy and swinging your partner," which again isn't too far off.

    So for one, nobody is aware that the reason tango has so many life-long addicts is because it's a close, connected dance where you improvise to music. And even if they're told that, they've never experienced what that's like or desire it in any way. If anything, describing how tango truly makes me feel can turn some non-dancers away, scare them.

    90% of new people who come to class here want to do moves that make them look cool. If they're younger add in that they usually want to do it to modern music. Teachers who are concerned with bringing more people into tango have to face that fact. The hope is that they stick with moves/alternative music long enough to have a "tango experience" and start to realize why people like to dance musical dances in close embrace to golden era music.

    So students either
    • drop out when they get bored
    • drop out when they get turned off by touchy-feely close embrace or golden era music
    • stay with tango but pursue the nuevo/fusion path
    • start to realize why tango music and embraced connection is so cool and start to focus on technique and musicality
    You have a case of most people becoming long-term tango dancers by accident: they get into the dance for one reason, and stay for another.

    It's a classic conflict: do you give people what they want (but not teach to your passion), or present tango how you truly believe it is (at the expense of more students). I think teachers need to give people what they want in order to expose as many people to tango as possible, with the goal of eventually giving them their true idea of tango once they have their attention.

    Of course, if there are enough students in a scene that thirst for close golden tango, teachers can teach what they wish and not worry about it. But I only see that in big cities. These thoughts are mostly for small scenes.
    c955, Mladenac, vit and 2 others like this.
  14. JTh

    JTh Member

    yes, i say you are right with the points above...
    id also mention that the average age of tango is older than the average age of salsa, and a lot of younger ones are using it meet people, so they drop out if they dont like what they see..or switch over. Id wager a guess that the size is also less in tango.
    Id also say that it takes a lot more time ( practice etc) to attain a level of competency to attend a milonga in tango rather than say salsa where you can hit salsa parties and pass muster in a shorter timeframe. These are other reasons why people leave tango after taking 1-2 lessons.
  15. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    I wonder if another component could be Tango's difficulty and continuing challenge to master. Are there other dances where so many people will do a lesson a week, a practica or two a week, and a Milonga a week for a decade or two? Tango seems to have many workshops (per capita) compared to other dances. When I tell other dancers I do Tango they often say "Tango is hard." Maybe it is like chess or piano that way?
  16. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Yes, and No. Besides tango I´m also a little bit in salsa, swing, and bal-folk.

    Salsa, in the beginning complicated, but physically demanding when you get older.
    Swing, in the beginning easy, but physically demanding when you get older.
    Tango, in the beginning easy, physically not demanding, and still technically challenging for older people.
    Folk, easy in the beginning, but not that challenging later on.

    My observation is, that people from ballroom, salsa, or swing, will sooner or later convert to tango. Why, I find (f.i.) salsa more sophisticated and challenging than tango, because there are by far more different dances, rhythms, and figures, body coordination, compared to tango. But after some years salseros/as simply reach a physical border. In tango, these guys then can continue on a lower level.
    Tango Distance likes this.
  17. Oliver

    Oliver Member

    By "physically demanding" do you mean more aerobic or vigorous? I mean, I sweat more when I dance swing or salsa, but I would say I find tango "physically demanding" in the sense that it requires more core stabilizing muscles, balance, control than swing or salsa.
    Mladenac likes this.
  18. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    I would say swing and salsa are always physically demanding, and with tango you can choose how physically demanding it is with the way you dance.
  19. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    Is the word "stamina" synonymous with "physically demanding?"
    If you have good technique, why should any dance be "physically demanding?"
  20. Oliver

    Oliver Member

    That's why I'm trying to get to the definition of "physically demanding"--because there seems to be some personal defining of the words at play.

    My general understanding of the words:

    Physical: related to the body and material world.
    Demanding: calling for intensive effort, skill, or attention; taxing

    So, depending on which nuance of the definition your focusing on*, tango has aspects that are more physically demanding, and vice versa.

    *not to mention which variety of swing or salsa you're dancing and how fast or slow of a song you're dancing to!
    opendoor likes this.

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