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July 16, 2009

Adventures of Sorin & Debbie in Bs As

For regular readers of tango blogs this is probably not news. But if you haven't been following Sorin's and his girlfriend Debbi's blogs lately, check them out.

They are both in Bs As this summer and are doing some excellent reporting of the milonga scene, tango class scene, and the shoe scene (see Debbie).

One strange and very interesting thing is that they have each gravitated towards different tango subcultures. Debbie has decided to go to the traditional milongas where she loves dancing with the old milongueros. Sorin has decided to go to the youth practicas (e.g., Practica X, Villa Malcolm).

"You say open, I say close; you say alternative, I say trad; tomato, tomato, etc." But they aren't calling the whole thing off. They are taking classes together at DNI, which they find useful for whatever style of dancing they are doing.

Debbi writes about why she prefers dancing with the old men:

The old men are great. Not because of what they do or don't do, per se, but more because of who they are. They are tango. Not only do they know every note of every layer of every song, and seamlessly move from layer to layer when dancing, but most of them (perhaps all) saw the maestros when they were young.
This is why their tango is so amazing. You are not just dancing with a man. You are dancing with history, with culture and with decades of understanding. These men know that tango is more than learning how to wrap your partner's leg around you every which way until Tuesday, they know that it is about connections.

Sorin writes about trying to break into the non-traditional milongas and practicas:

The hardest part in some of the BsAs milongas where the people I’d like to dance with go, (the non-traditional milongas) is the “private party” feeling of the event, when one feels it’s not part of the party. [ ... ] People here in BsAs tend come with a group and sit together, all closed up. What I mean is they face each other, chat when they don’t dance and you can’t make eye contact with them to save your life.
[ ... ]
I’m sure someone will ask, or at least wonder, why don’t go to the traditional ones? Maybe the traditional milongas are great in season, but at the ones I have gone to, there were very few people I was interested in dancing with. So, my advice to anyone coming here in the winter is, learn Spanish and make friends. Get thick skinned. As fast as you can.

These blogs are excellent reading to get a feeling for how two people can look at the same milonga, and the same dance, quite differently. Plus Sorin has talked about the impact of the Swine Flu concerns on milonga attendance.

Great tango writing, both of you!! Keep it up!

:: UPDATE ::

Oh, I forgot to mention this extremely interesting observation from Sorin.

Sorin says "If I would have state the biggest difference I felt between women who are trained to dance in BsAs vs some other places, is the way they move their hips when dancing. Portenas and foreigners living here they all roll their hips as they walk, which makes for a much more flavorful dance and removes a lot of the stiffness people trained other places have."

My friend Beatriz calls this hip movement "the swing." I agree that somehow the hip movement is more mobile in the women dancers of Buenos Aires. I think it comes from teachers stressing axis, and cautioning women not to break their hips as in salsa, and hypercorrection brings about a lack of hip movement. But, who knows where the swing and the non-swing come from. Many body movements are learned unconsciously just from being around people, like a regional accent in a language.

Posted by joegrohens at July 16, 2009 01:05 PM


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