Friday, June 19, 2009

One view point

I have been asked since I came here by several people why I like dancing with the old men.
How to give body to the intangible. The explanations and quantification of dancing with the old portenos vs the new generation. Both have their merits, I enjoy both immensely, and yet my preferences align with the old men.

This is not to say that there are not young men who are filling in the porteno circle, they are capturing the same feeling that the older generation emits, and they are good. But 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. One porteno I danced with told me that his papa brought him to see DiSarli play in the 1940's. He was 8 and he listened to the Maestro and watched his papa dance the whole night. The very next day he demanded his father teach him to dance tango. He has been dancing ever since.

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. Connections with the music, with your partner, with the other dancers with whom you share the dance floor. It is about making the absolute most of the next 10, 12, 15 minutes because that is all you have together. They may invite you to dance again later that night, or another night, but it will be a different moment then, different connections. They are instead focused on the here. The now. The present. The moment.

These men learned tango when the world was at war, and I can not help but think that this sense of "Live for today, for tomorrow may never come" is infused in their dance. It is this infusion that makes dancing with them so very sweet. The athleticism that is asked for when dancing with the younger generation is never requested from the older. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy dancing with the younger crowd, I enjoy the different tango that they offer and share. But it is just that, a different tango, a different dance to me. The tango of the portenos is what has captivated me here most of all, dancing with an era long gone by and yet still very much alive.

9 comments:

NYC Tango Pilgrim said...

I was looking for the Like button like on facebook. Then I realize this is your blog not your status update.

Anyway I like it...very much.

Joli said...

Did you know that Argentina was not part of the war? But they profited by it, by providing the much needed food. (To both sides, so I have been told)

Elizabeth said...

I love what you say Debbi. Tina and some of us were talking about this. However, there are some younger milongueros too. We even have a few here in Seattle, lucky for us.
I think of it as the men who are able to "cast a spell" v.s. everyone else.


like!
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me said...

Thank you for posting these wonderful reflections of your experiences on your trip.

tangocherie said...

Debbi,
I think the "Live today for tomorrow who knows?" attitude makes Argentina, or at least Buenos Aires, the way it is.
I lay the credit/blame on the government, all the corruption and the changes that took place in one lifetime. Do you know that up until the '40s, they drove on the other side of the street, English style? And in the '80s, their money changed from australes to pesos? And it was only since the '80s that they've had democracy.

So for whatever reason, they don't save their money for tomorrow or plan much for the future.

And I'm sure that attitude is reflected in the tango.

Tina said...

There's nothing like it, and nothing like them :-). I have said it before but I'll say it again - I am thrilled for you that you are discovering these things. :-) Keep having a wonderful time and keep writing!! :-)

Anonymous said...

Yes, Debi. You have captured it exactly. Dancing with the old milongueros is the tango. They are the music embodied in form.

Pantina said...

Wonderful.. simply wonderful... You've inspired me to start my vacation fund, learn more Spanish and go next year... Please keep posting and I hope your allergies subside soon.

Denise said...

This is EXACTLY why I like dancing in BsAs so much. Thanks for sharing with us! Bises de Denise.