Fundamentalism

 


By 2014, the global hegemonic viewpoint about tango calls itself “social dancing”. Its ethics are: [purported] traditionalism, inclusivity (across levels, within friendship cliques), popularization (de-emphasis on accomplishment and hard work).

  • music:  Traditional tango music (composed and recorded before 1950) is “better” than other music for tango dancing, because of its musical complexity and richness. Fast and rhythmic music is preferred because it’s easier to achieve some semblance of musicality while dancing with untrained Revels who are not able to take slow steps for dramatic music. (See “Expectations“.)
  • leading:   A good mark constructs a physical frame and uses a simple vocabulary to enable even an inexperienced woman to have a nice time on the dance floor with him.
  • who to dance with:   Men should dance with the beginners, and might as well choose the ones showing the maximum amount of sexy legs. It’s ok for Revels to reverse-cabeceo because the Marks’ priority is social, not artistic.
  • pleasure:   Marks’ maximum pleasure comes from experiencing the smooth flow of all the dancers around the room, being desired, enjoying a nice embrace, and appreciating the music. Revels’ pleasure comes from being tenderly dominated, with musicality.
  • safety:   To assure the safety of other dancers, large steps should be avoided and the Revel’s leg should not use the airspace.
  • pride:   Marks’ pride comes from propriety to the ronda, mastery, smoothness, and elegance, so he only does things that he is sure he can do in these ways. Revels’ pride comes from obedience.

 

These posts document my evolving awareness of fundamentalist tango. I first observed its emergence in the form of the El Yeite milonga in Buenos Aires in 2010/2011 (I attended some of the first episodes of this milonga in its first location on Sarmiento, and later as it became seriously patrimonial on Av. Córdoba. In New Zealand this attitude of dancing was called “milonguero”, under the influence of Susannah Miller’s aggressive marketing campaign (c. 2005- see Merritt). In Sydney it was called “salon style”. In Berlin it is called “social dancing”. I was surprised to find this attitude in the hip youthful European “marathon scene” which also lays claim to “high level” – without seeking virtuosity, at least not in the form of aggressive improvisation and personal expression which was the norm c.2008 in Buenos Aires. At first I called it ‘neo-Victorianism’, then ‘smug tango’, and now I call it ‘Fundamentalism’.