The Tango Misenscène

Angentine tango at Pier 45, NYC

In tango, there is more ego on the dance floor than there is ability. I have surmised that this stems from the distinct propensity for dancers to approach the activity from a perspective of sociality rather than from a knowledge/ skill direction; a phenomenon that is typical of most form of human congregation in post-modern societies. Culpability of the egoist tendencies then rests with this human penchant for acceptance and admiration, originally an instintoid, but in recent times, nothing short of a burlesque.

If one’s interest is rooted in gaining admiration for one’s efforts and consequently increasing one’s popularity ratings, or simply gaining carnal prowess, then yes, I can clearly see how the tango, or any dance floor can become a petri dish of fecund social growth, and how this can very quickly digress to egoistic pathology.

If, however, the interest is aimed purely at the pleasure and enjoyment of the social interaction or more specifically, in enhancing one’s skill level through practise, then much of the pretence, and its train of social debacle and resulting disappointments and disillusions can be well avoided; or more so, not even attempted.

In every tango community, like every social hub that attracts those of the opposite sex and those who are unsure of their sexual orientation, there are, and will always be the usual resident attendees and players: the contentious braggarts, the solitary renegade, the sly predators, the ubiquitous chameleons (both male and female) who are really whores skilled in their craft, masquerading as professionals of whatever field they select as a clever concealment; and then there are a sparse few tango dancers.

Where do you find those tango dancers? On the peripheries of the vaudeville; standing quietly in the far corners, away from the reaches of the swirling vortex, evenly dispersed along the outer edges of the circumference. How can you spot them? They show up late, they speak very little, they are selective in partners, and they adorn the dance floor with choice and sporadic tandas.

Then just before the end of the night, when all the stage is wrapped up in an orgy of intermingled bodies and misguided intentions, like a thief in the night, just as imperceptible as their entrance, they slip away into the darkness of the night to return home and ponder the essence and evolution of the intricacies and execution of their evening’s encounters, and to extract from it quiet, unsoiled contentment.

My favourite place to dance Argetine tango: Buenso Aires, of course, and every summer in Central park