You’re never too old for a bad Tango experience

A disappointing afternoon but some valuable lessons and reminders  . . .

Jennifer went out shopping for the afternoon with her daughter (and got some lovely things, by the way).  So I found a Tea Dance that was not too far away and decided to venture forth.  Arrived about 45 minutes after the published start time and there were about six people there, but there was a balance of Ladies & Men.

This is a venue that announces ‘Cabaceo preferred’.  So I sat down patiently to observe and plan my strategy before launching into an afternoon of delightful dancing with, well, at least plenty of floor space.

Tried to Cabaceo one lady who quickly looked away.  Went for a cup of tea.  Had a nice chat with a man (another visitor like me) I’d met years ago at a Milonga, who said ‘what you have to do in this place, is wait until everyone has had all the tandas they want with the people they know, and then you may be in with a chance – but only after they’ve seen you dance’  (Note the Catch 22 here!)

There was a lady sitting about 3 seats away, looking determinedly straight ahead.  I made sure she was aware of me in her peripheral vision, but she did not budge – no luck there.

Finally I managed to get a nice tanda of dances (Fresedo, I think it was), with a lovely lady who is a recent beginner but going to be a very nice dancer.  It was her first ever Milonga in this country.   I could see our dances being observed by at least one of the seated ladies who herself  had already danced a couple of tandas.

Meanwhile, the DJ was having a great afternoon, dancing with all his  regular favourite partners.  (Except of course the visiting recent beginner lady I danced with.)

Next Tanda was Milonga, so I avoided that.

Had another cup of tea.

Some Valses started up and I noticed that the lady who had previously observed us was smiling and perched expectantly on the edge of her chair.  I recognised that sign.  I caught her eye and she . . . looked away.

Tried two more cabaceos with the remaining two ladies but in fairness my efforts were rather half hearted.

By now the numbers had swollen to at least twelve and still, ironically in balance, but only one couple.  I had been there the best part of two hours and I decided to call it a day.

On the way out the lady on the door asked, somewhat sarcastically, ‘Oh, giving up already?  I could have retorted ‘well, there wasn’t much to give up!’  But I just smiled and left.

So, what did I learn, and what would I pass on to others?

1.  Remember how hard it is to break into the tango scene.  Be supportive of people who try.  I know I don’t look the part but I would have hoped my dancing would have helped a bit.  If you’re a recent beginner (unless you’re young and good looking) it’s going to be hard, especially at traditional venues.

2.  This venue’s ultra-traditional, rather serious and not too welcoming reputation had preceded it.  I should have taken note and avoided it.  I won’t repeat this mistake.

3.  I underestimated the challenge.  I wasn’t tough or determined enough.  Or maybe I’m just not that hungry any more.

4.  Be generous with your dances.  (health and energy permitting).  Welcome new people.  I’m afraid too many people experience what I felt and it was valuable (rather than good) to be reminded of it.

5.  Don’t go dancing without Jennifer 😉
Don’t go anywhere new by yourself unless you are really up for it (see 3 above).

6.  Ladies, don’t turn up to an unfamiliar venue in a car full of your female friends and sit together.  You’ll spend the whole time chatting and probably not much else.


© Tango Nomads, 2017