It is now winter in Buenos Aires…
Venice is really hot in summer… and humid.
“It’s OK”, she smiled back.
The black shadow on her cheek was now even bigger. The summer paints strange patterns on the faces of the tangeros who dance in non-air-conditioned venues.
“Your have a black mark on your forehead as well”, she said with a sparkle like it was a kind of revenge.
OMG! Not only the forehead. My shirt was all mess: wrinkled like I just pulled it out of the washing machine. I had a big wet stamps on my white pants as well.
Despite the fact that we were both wet and messed up – we smiled like crazy.
Imagine the following situation: you are invited to a dinner with 100 and more people. You prepare, dress well, take care everything to look perfectly. You go to the dinner and there someone spills the soup on your shirt… and some toddler paints a black circle on your chick… and the rain starts and you are all wet…
What would you do? What would you feel? Most of the people will probably take taxi and go home right away. Than talk for months to all friends how terrible experience it was.
And yet, in tango people still have a great time despite all wrinkled shirts, and wet marks, and messed up makeup… Despite they are all wet and the venue is warm like hell. What is it? Why? How?
Well, there is no one right answer to this. This post is just my take on it.
1. It is about your dance, its not about you – I don’t like when people dress up too much for milongas. It is like they try to compensate for something.
When people invite you for a dance, your look is usually not the most important part. You see, people dance because they get something from that. It helps them express what they feel and it faces them with their inner self.
Many dancers will easily choose a partner with messed up shirt or poor fashion choice. It is much harder to invite someone who have messed up embrace or poor musicality.
Of course, it is good to dance with someone who is nice looking and well dressed, but the first priority of the tango dancer is always the dance.
This is probably the reason why tango dancers don’t mind enjoying with a messed up hair and makeup, with wet shirts and pants.
2. It is about you, it is not about your dance – Let’s go little deeper. Tango is just a form – it get its content from the dancers personality and emotions. Read more details about it in my article “The dark side of tango”.
This dance we love is unlike any activity I know. It cuts across different social groups, across races and nationalities; it unites people with different age and occupations; it brings together people that would never be together in their ‘normal’ life. But it goes even further: it goes behind the body and material appearance – it exposes the soul. Naked and unguarded.
The level of intimacy in tango is what many are afraid of. In the same time, many of us are passionate about tango just because of it.
When you want to know someone better you ask questions like where do you live, what do you work, what do you like, why do you dance…? For a tango dancer who connects those are really irrelevant questions. You embrace someone, dance a tanda or two… and if there is a true connection, you know more than you could possibly know with hours of asking questions.
This is why tango dancers do not care if they are sometime messed up. I learned that some people can even accept if their partner didn’t had a shower for days or they come to the milonga after visiting a traditional restaurant with garlic based cuisine. My point is that there is something beyond the looks and the smells – something deeper that people find in their tango partners.
Of course, people: take regular shower before milongas and avoid eating garlic! 🙂 This exploration is more pleasing if you do that.
3. We are all the same mess – At the end, one practical reason! It is socially more acceptable to be messed up where everyone else is messed up too. I mean, what if everyone else is in complete mess and you shirt is intact and there is not even single drop of sweat on your face? It probably means that no one wants to dance with you… or you don’t want to dance with anyone. In both case, you don’t belong in the milonga.
Remember the story about Venice? I really had a big black shadow on my forehead. It was from her makeup. When I went to change my (second shirt) I saw my face in the mirror: it is good I don’t have hair so I do not have to care about that as well.
I was happy that evening. I had really memorable dances, despite that outside was 30 degrees and the room was not air-conditioned. You should dance… and when someone tells you something like “It’s too hot to dance!” you can always reply:
“It is now winter in Buenos Aires!”