T Nation

Tango: Why So Serious?



I was curious if any of you here are seriously into tango, and or know anyone who is, and can explain the bizarre obsession it creates here in the United States.

I'll start by saying I'm part Argentine, I now live down the street from my grandma, who is all Argentine, so we've had long talks about the obsessive nature of American Tenguiristas/os or whatever the fuck they call themselves. We both think it's ridicules.

While in Argentina many people tango, it's not an all consuming, snobby activity where the "dance" goes beyond the dance floor. It's a way people dance when they go out... the same way if you find yourself listening to country and know how to two-step you might, or a swing/blues song comes on at the bar, you might dance with your date. But it's not a life consuming obsession like it is here.

My mom is one of the obsessed: her friends, money, boyfriend, time, all revolve around maximizing tango time, and being seen at/with the appropriate tango people at the appropriate tango locations. I think it's crazy. But they are not alone. The internets have allowed them to become part of this greater obsession, and now they all have hundreds of facebook/tango "event" friends all over the country who are just as obsessive.

...but if you think such a large community means that there's room for you, think again. Don't even think about showing up at a milonga if you are "confident" in your tango skills: these are not events at which to learn, or build confidence in the dance. These are events for your tango click to show up the other click, and for those who haven't yet invested in thirty pairs of tango shoes, to respectfully sit to the side and admire these "artists" or dance.

Better learn the rules first too: http://www.close-embrace.com/invitingetiquette.html

look at this shit.

Now what I've recently found more disturbing is that it's not just my Mom's generation taking up the dance and this attitude, but I'm actually regularly running into hotties my age who are just as snobby and obsessive about it.

What gives? Seriously? Any of you dealing with friends/family and this obsession? The local free-rag actually did a story on how un-welcome the tangoistos were to him when he went to check out a local milonga, and since then it's been non-stop letters to the editor, mostly from tango apologists. What is this? Is it simply Americans doing what Americans do, and finding something foreigny and engaging in it to the point of obsession in an attempt to seem "not-white" and eclectic: taking it to the extreme. What am I missing?


where in the US are you?

Im assuming your mom is Latina - which really explains everything. they seem to spend all of their time and money making sure that everyone around them knows that they think they are better than them. Im in new england, its not a problem here that i know of. hotties your age are most likely latina as well, and i advise you not to date them if you can help it. they are crazy.


Dude really. Arent all females crazy from one end of the spectrum to the other.


In my travels and experience this is the only conclusion I have come to, also.


Yeah...I'm curious where in the US of A you are...I'm pretty hep (just ask anyone) and I've never heard of any of this...I'm in DC by the way where lots of trends tend not to happen because most people that live here suck.


And since they are all crazy give me one with the latin ass and bedroom fire. My wife is mexican so I favor the mocha skin.


I experienced the same thing with both salsa and tango. The snobbery and douchebaggery is simply unbelievable!

But you find that just about anywhere you go or any thing you do. I have experienced the same thing in various martial arts that I've done; on some rugby teams that I've played for; at certain sailing regattas I've attended/participated in; at certain rock climbing gyms/clubs that I've belonged to; Chess clubs and investing groups; professional associations; etc...

Just about any activity that requires any kind of skill and/or experience to be proficient it will have a kind of "don't talk to the FNG" attitude. You even see that attitude here on T-Nation to a degree "if you can't bench 300 lbs, don't fucking talk to me" kind of attitude on some of the forums (although I have to say that this attitude is FAR from the level that you are referring to with Tango and most T-mag members go to great lengths to help out newbs)

The reason for all of this nonsense (from what I've studied) is that humans are wired to function in small, tribal societies. That's how we evolved for tens of thousands of years. If you look at it from that context things start to make sense. These "avocations" become our "tribe". This need is seen in many different forms from the radical behavior of sports fans to just about any other group that you can imagine. There is a hierarchy or "pecking order", levels of skill or accomplishment, status, sometimes mating opportunity, competition, distrust of strangers and contempt for other tribes, just about every variable you'd have in a tribal society.

So to answer your question: It's how we are wired. Funny, huh?


Yeah, but there's maybe only a 10:8 ratio of women to men.

Men are becoming weird about it in the same way too.

Is my mom Latina? Who the fuck knows. I don't really know what that means anymore.

We're from Argentina (her side of the family), but Argentine isn't an ethnicity, and before my family crossed the Atlantic they were Spanish, Italian and Swedish... we're not meztiso, so some of your Latin-American friends from further North don't consider us "real" Latin Americans... who knows, that's a different conversation. She'd say she's Latina.


You are in DC now? Maybe we really can organize that MMF with LadiesLove...

I know nothing of these people you speak of but you made me remember that I am sort of interested in learning how to do a couple of different dances. To the GooGleS!!!


My experience with this is mostly from the Southwest (where I'm from), California, and (less) the mid-Atlantic.


Chinese food wasn't competitive until it got to the States, either.

Just sayin.


I agree with most of that. But, like I said, Tango is big in Buenos Aires, but unless you're a REAL professional who actually make their living off of dance, no one is obsessed with it the way people here are obsessed. Here, you're either not into it at all, or it's a major part of your life: the scene doesn't take kindly to casual tango-ers.

While I can see the caparison to material arts, and those who look down on those who aren't as good/gifted or who don't take it as seriously as they do, there is an entire industry around material arts that caters to those who show up planning on half-assing it, and training a handful of times a month. And material arts isn't even a primarily social activity: dancing is (unless you're on lots of Ecstasy and bouncing to shitty music).


So wait you're upset because a girl is enthusiastic about something... and enthusiastic about something that is both physical and sensual at the same time? There are many things to be upset about, I'd take a girl that dedicates a lot of her time to tango over a girl that dedicates a lot of her time to alcohol and television any day of the week.

Hell I'd love to meet a dancer preferably Tango, Flamenco, or Ballet. Gorgeous!

Don't we all spend what many consider a ridiculous amount of money and time doing weights?


Don't worry, to tell you the truth if you are Spanish and Italian you are the real Latins, the ones that came from the Roman Empire, not these Hispanics.


Rothbard's Law, people specialize in things they are worst at, because they can see the large improvements even if they are not the best. Most likely of course. Ego as well.

It is probably because it seems most people, through their lives, do not have the drive to become great at one thing at a time, so when they do that is all the think about. Which is fine, but I spent a semester learning how to two-step and have become good at it, I am not planning any competitions any time soon but I have the confidence to do so and wouldn't mind going in looking like a fool at a competition either. And I might go out every weekend to a honky tonk to go dancing, but it is not all I think about. I learned salsa when I was little, same thing I can do it and am confident in my ability.

There are plenty of things, piano, football, tennis, hunting, fishing, building a camp fire, poker, shot put, discus, golf, photography, singing, &c. that I have confidence in my ability to do properly, but I am not entertaining the idea of competing in them. It is just fun, and figured it would make well rounded, even though I would rather be the best in my career field than well rounded any day.

I also have been met with the snobbery with people who ask me if I do this regularly, and I tell them I do not have the time or will to make whatever the activity part of my life. I think it comes from jealousy when it comes down to it. Because I can still do it without making myself look like a fool, but I do not need to make it my life and have better things to do.


No, I spend a ridiculous amount of money and time making more money, the other stuff is stuff to fill my leisure time.


WTF is Hispanic anyways? I'm from Colombia with mostly Spanish roots. When I meet people for the first time my country of origin comes up often in conversations. I have a slight accent when speaking English. I tell them I'm from Colombia and they go "I thought you were white" , I don't know what being Colombian has to do with being white/black/mestizo.


It doesn't. I was making a joke, and Hispanic are people from Hispania or now with the meaning all fucked up Spanish people somehow, but Hispanic is the darker Spanish for me.




Look: you nailed it with the americans trying to find something non white and obsessing about it.

But there are crazies in every culture. I'm proud of my american culture. The good parts not the bad.