A Tutorial About Argentine Tango Dancing 


Chapter 21: All About Eva

Last updated, 12/29/00

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The biblical story seems to indicate that Eva got to take the rap for turning Paradise into a living hell for the Creator's ultimate creation, Da Man. Looks like the First Guy leisurely enjoyed the pleasantries of an ideal world created just for him and the fruit of his ribs, with only one caveat to be aware of (actually two, stay away from the Forbidden Tree and don't dance to Piazzolla). One day, the First Gal was hanging around the garden followed by a snake who kept telling her, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Eventually Eva succumbed to the temptation and took a bite from the fruit of the Forbidden Tree and sweet talked Da Man into doing the same.

And so the story goes that they got thrown out of Paradise condemned to pay for their sin with the sweat of their foreheads. Da Man now had to work and be a provider. Eva stayed home barefoot and bearing children. This inequality and injustice prevailed throughout the centuries, until the roaring of fed up females sick of being called follows decided to do something about it. It takes two to Tango, you know, was their battle cry. Although we are still living in an imperfect world, when it comes to Tango, the roles of men and women have become less stereotypical, and progress towards equality continues at a steady pace.

For many, the Tango has become a metaphor for higher levels of men/women relationships. Long gone are the days of the early 1900's, when tough men killed each other to gain the favors of mischievous women, who without missing a beat would turn away from the bloody bodies laying outside the bar to focus their attention on those inside eager to be the next ones to go out and fight.
The Roaring Twenties imported from the Parisian halls an air of sophistication and the elegant Buenos Aires cabarets where musicians had to dress up in tails. Class warfare was responsible for so many broken hearts and so many great Tango lyrics. However, the Golden Era of Tango provided the blueprint for the codes and protocols associated with the social appeal of Argentine Tango dancing. During a period that roughly begun in the mid 1930's and lasted into the early 1950's, the relaxation of social constraints allowed men and women to socialize publicly at social clubs, night clubs and just about every other place where Tango dancing took place.

Many marriages resulted from the romances started on the dance floor because for as long as we can remember, the main purpose of going to the milonga was for boys to meet girls and vice versa. To be able to dance Tango well was a given, and the codes of conduct at the milongas were strictly adhered to by those who wanted to succeed. The entire body of activities, social interaction and behavior at the milongas of Buenos Aires fall under what we would like to call the tradition, myths and legends of Argentine Tango dancing. For most Argentinos this is part of their idiosyncrasy and most truly believe what George Dumesnil said on the subject: A country that no longer has legends, as the poet said, is condemned to freeze to death. It is quite possible. But, people without myths would already be dead.

Lead Thyself Not Into Temptation

Countless numbers of women have spent lots of time walking around a chair. That's how you learn your molinetes, they have been tempted to believe. The more they walked around the chairs, the more they kept pulling their partners off balance while they did their molinetes.
More and more women are realizing that men don't have four legs like chairs. They are also learning that there is no such thing as molinete steps. They are beginning to acknowledge that they are dancing with men, not leads. They are beginning to assume responsibility for their balance so they can tell when the men they are dancing with stop, but keep them walking around them. They realize that going around the man makes their hips move their legs in a predictable and repetitive sequence, forward, to the side and back.

Many women have spent lots of time leaning against a wall while practicing their ochos. Knees bent and pressed hard against each other. Ankles locked into each other. Collect, collect, said the voices of temptation.
The more they practiced, the more they fell off their ochos regardless of how hard they leaned against their partners. More and more women are now realizing that men are not walls to lean onto and that there are no steps called ochos.
They are learning that an ocho, is an invisible pattern resembling the number eight drawn on the floor by their feet. It results from a motion created by their partners that asked them to step forward with one leg, pivot on that leg maintaining balance, and step forward again with the other leg back to where they came from.
 Their awareness of the men they are dancing with affords them plenty of time to realize that they are not walking along with them on a straight line. Rather, the men are either stationary or moving in such a way to create the pivoting necessary for the changes of direction after each forward step.
They know that bending and pressing their knees together, locking their ankles against each other and forcing the hip of the trailing leg to make the body turn, make them heavy, throws them off balance and render their legs unable to respond to the natural flow of the dance required to carry their bodies wherever the men are taking them.

Many women have lined up behind another woman, who repeated numerous times a sequence of steps asking them to imitate her and memorize the steps. They have then proceeded to demand that men lead them to recreate the steps. They have been heard calling each step for the tentative leads who went along with the game.
More and more women are now realizing that real and skilled men don't lead. They dance with a woman in their arms.
More and more women are giving up memorizing steps and the unnerving anxiety that results from wanting to be good follows. They are assuming the responsibility for their posture and their balance. They are willing to put into the learning process as much effort as they want to get out in terms of satisfaction.
They know that there is a logical aspect of the learning process that addresses specifically the techniques that allow them to be empowered to be a full fledged partner. They seek those who are qualified to impart that important wealth of knowledge.
After all, Tango dancing has always been done in wondrous ways in the city-country we call Buenos Aires by very simple and humble men and women  who considered learning their roles a very important stage leading to the mutual enjoyment of the dance.

In Tango We Trust

Many Tango communities are graced by the charming presence of women who manage to feel good and look the best in the realm of the embrace, knowing where they are at all times with relation to the men they are dancing with. They are the women who good dancers enjoy dancing with.
They know that they only need to recognize which one of only three fundamental moves will make their bodies reach another space on the dance floor.They connect to their partners, friends, lovers, or total strangers, as these men navigate. They dance elegantly with their bodies fully connected to their partners, letting their legs be free to move forward, back, or to either side providing comfortable support for their bodies.
Albeit, they overwhelmingly and silently outnumber the vocal few who laugh at the traditions of Argentine Tango by claiming that in this country people have a different approach.
The ones who impose themselves on any man to fulfill a quote on their self-centered agendas, trading cheap easy dances for cheap, easy frills for perverts disguised as milongueros.

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