My dancing slowed down in 2019 because I felt I wasn’t getting much out of it. It ground to a halt in 2020 and 2021, along with most dancers. But in 2022 and 2023 it hasn’t renewed itself. When Roberto and I get together to make some art or teach, dancing is fabulous and full. […]
“On spec” is an abbreviation of “on speculation”. It’s a business term referring to production in hope of success. Artists are afraid to demand too much, or settle for too little, so we silently collaborate in the “contract of hope”.
But would I accept the right invitations if I felt cautious of everyone? Would I be able to relax my body, to trust and enjoy while also maintaining vigilance?
I always invite my students to share their confusion when teachers are telling them different things. Likewise I now feel a responsibility to explain why teachers are almost always covertly hostile to one another.
Showing off is an accusation leveled at people perceived to be doing either “stage” tango or “nuevo” tango in contexts where only “social” or “traditional” tango is authorized. The vilification rests on a concept entirely external to tango: that showing off is shameful.
“I selected the Alfa because of its distinctive Art-Deco sound openings and also because the first example I came across was keyed in the Peguri system. This would give me the opportunity to show a different keyboard layout than the 142s I had drawn so far.”
As I’m sure you are, I’m spending a lot of time thinking about – well, everything.
My life, decisions I made, mostly the bad ones.
Wine, the difference between Barbera and Ruché.
Tango: was it all a dream?
From 2021 Berlin will no longer be our headquarters. Now is the time to revisit our Berlin productions. Accompanied by superlative collaborators, we used every opportunity to tell new stories and make tango bigger.
Thank you to: Mona Isabelle, Andreas Rochholl, CJ Yetman, Max Thomas, Fritz Schadow, Abisko Lights, Gökhan Aksakalli, Antoine Gallix, Alan Nguyen, Stefan Brenner, Yoko Onodera, Swan, Frauke Nees, Andi Hackenberg, Jaina Hirai, Eva Curtius, Ibon Goitia and Orquesta TRYST.
My relationship to work presumes that completion is the main pleasure in life. My overwork is often a drive to finish something. This finish fetish is utterly arbitrary. Usually there’s no urgency, and most things get better with more time (and sleep). I practiced: stopping when it’s not done yet.
Besides flawless composition, Gorey’s art is the conjunction of an “aesthetic preference for the understated and the unstated” and an “attraction to the highly stylized”. He tended to “leave out most of the connections” so as to offer his witnesses “ambiguity” and “subtlety” which give space “for imaginative participation.”
Most of us are familiar with deskilling in manufacturing. It means designing the production line so that each worker does only one small job over and over, and it’s easy to train anyone to do that one thing. This increases flexibility and power for the company while decreasing the meaning, opportunities for development, and power of workers. Deskilling also applies to retail, where workers are no longer experts on what they are selling, and do not provide personal service to their customers, but just stock shelves and ring cash registers. I observe that the deskilling of manufacturing and retail depend on the deskilling of the customer, who is no longer able to assess quality of products, nor repair them.
The path I chose was at that time the least comfortable, the most unknown, the scariest. The next few hours, in which I implemented my decision, were drenched in fear. What had I done? But I knew that my fear was part of the fractal unfurling across our planet, identical in its most mundane and momentous iterations. The Distance has been an aperture to many changes. Some intentional, some incidental. Some little, some big.
Addictions are harmful in various ways, but never 100% harmful. In other words, most addictions involve some dimension(s) that are normal, reasonable, and healthy – such as having a sense of belonging to a community, creating a sense of identity, and having profound and intense experiences. Behavioral addictions usually involve an experience of personal development, building skills and expertise.The fact that tango has healthful and meaningful aspects, including a rich social life, engagement with cultural heritage, skills-building, and artistic expression does not obviate dangerous addiction.
NeoTango is beautiful, but it only exists because we have been made to feel unwelcome in Tango. I do not accept being excluded and I certainly do not revel in it. Because we have been thrown out, a whole bunch of people like Ron Fenton, DJ Elio, Thanos Kasidis, Tanguerilla, Andreas Lange, Sonja Armisen and so many others have volunteered so much time, energy, and financial risk to create a whole separate scene of neotango so that we feel comfortable to dance. I do not accept exile.
In this Distance from milongas, I dance alone with the ocean. What are you doing and how are you feeling about tango, with the perspective of some Distance? I created a workbook to help us think about this.
The purpose of the codigos is to protect egos from rejection. But what goes missing when that is the only system we have? What indeed is social, and what social dimensions of tango require care? Let us consider what we can do about that when we return.
I’ve worked at home for 20 years. For folks who are new to it and for those unable to work who are and are abruptly faced with the rather uncomfortable opportunity to move forward on your dream projects, here are 15 tools for Discipline, Self-Awareness, Improvisation, and effective Contemplation.
I need to tell you that I am feeling tremendous relief about having a break from tango.
Indeed interruption is part of the history of tango. During the dictatorship, tango became a family and home practice. It’s really not all about milongas. Let us welcome this pause as part of the dance, a needed disruption of rhythm, part of a more complex one.
Selecting a few posts to reprint in Until Forever, I re-read my first blog post ever. It was a bit startling to realize that most of the things that concern me about tango today are things I realized from the very beginning. It’s a little embarrassing to realize that I continued despite knowing what I […]
Some readers have responded to recent posts with alarm. They perceive a darkness. That’s because I decided to take a serious look at tango. While I was calibrating my dusty social science equipment, people kept dropping by to to me about their pain. I am the one who is alarmed. I found a lot of […]
Heroin is a beautiful experience too. So is red wine.
That doesn’t make them not addictive. That doesn’t make the addiction not destructive.
This is a cycle we are all accustomed to. We tango dancers pride ourselves on managing our jealousy with strength, with retribution, with ritual games, with “codes” of etiquette.
We believe this strength and savvy calculus buys us something valuable and precious.
She imputes joy to my movement which is in fact the urgent beating of wings to fly aimlessly in a storm that never ends.
As a tango dancer, I have not been graced with the right body or the right beauty. Of course, I want to be the tango princess, with the skinny legs and the delicate shoes (except that I don’t want that boring hair!). But I’m driven to create images that express my ethics, costumes which say something. This comes at the cost of traditional beauty.
If tango were a video game…Level 1: Roses … You are invited to the Grand Ball, full of unknown delights. You are having such fun and you are grateful!
Please see second post on this topic. Tango dancers often brag about being a “Tango addict”. I was. I’ve broken my tango addiction. What is tango addiction? In my experience there are three forms of addiction. The first is when someone knows they have a harmful addiction, and they try to hide it from others, or deny […]
You’re too tired to contemplate putting on your shoes. You’re worn out by life. You want to cry, or scream, or get drunk. And it was a crazy day. There’s no time for dinner now. But the milonga beckons. Maybe you’ll feel better there? You remind yourself that last night did not make you feel […]
There are these tango women, the successes (“professionals”). They look intelligent and they look like they’ve given up a lot for this bit of glory. To call one of these gods their own. Tango feeds our hunger for recognition and love. And because it feeds so richly, it promises a font of fulfillment and satisfaction. […]
Wow, I thought I was free of this. In Dresden I wrote in my notebook that I was over the addiction. In fact it seemed long-gone. But I get one little taste last night and my nose is on the table. It’s a curse to be excited. You’re doomed. The whole day is waiting for […]
Why is it so hard to tell a new story about tango – or even a real story? It’s just not all about drama with your lover. Tango is about race, class, and gender. So many stories to tell, but none of them start with one man and one woman. There are always the women not chosen. And the ghosts. Another disappointing stage show which can’t beyond melodrama, threesomes, and chairs.
After tasting the joys of tango, it’s hard to go back to whatever it was you did for fun before. Other people’s lives and pleasures seem paltry. Tango is the love that surpasses everything you used that word for before. It understands you. It wants your depths. It hears your whispers. But tango is […]
Gender play Tango is a a space where most dancers do gender more extremely than in the rest of life. This can be fun, it can be healing, and it can be distorting. There are several dimensions to gender extremity in tango. The first has to do with costume, and is pleasurable for those who […]
“It’s an interesting phrase…” my student said. “–The one the Argentine teachers use: ‘It’s not wrong, but…’ Why do they say that?” There are obvious answers, and deeper ones. On the obvious level are several possibilities, such as:  The student might be using a different, perfectly legitimate, sequence to get the same result. Affirming that […]
A rebellion is a daring and dangerous effort to disrupt the current state of affairs in loyalty to a deeper truth. I’m not saying I’ve got the only bead on truth, or depth. What I do, how I teach, and what I write is an expression of my commitment to the best and richest tango […]
You are investing time, power, and heart into this dance. It may sound obvious, but it’s crucial to remind yourself that you’re doing all this for your own pleasure. Tango is a space of self-expression, elation, and emotional intensity that are very personal. It’s also an authoritarian, righteous, rules-centered, judgmental world. Perhaps too easily, we […]
Before being a tanguera, I was an economist. I was interested in community-based economics, crafts and craftspeople. I’ve become one of the people I used to study. I work with my hands, my body, my creativity, my spirit. I integrate mind and body into my craft. It’s a beautiful and meaningful life. I do what I […]
It’s the performance that counts. You drag your self into another reality, propped up with costumes and glue. You may not believe it, but you will convince those who aren’t paying close attention anyway.
Girlfriend, I know. Dancing tango as a revel is the experience you’ve been looking for all your life. When it’s good it’s the best thing you’ve ever tasted. You can’t get enough. Not all marks do it for you, but you don’t mind the suspenseful wait for the eyes of one of those marks, the ones who make […]
I have forbidden myself from using the word “authenticity”. I don’t give “that’s the way it’s done” as an explanation, and I don’t let myself say “how it is in Buenos Aires”. Don’t get me wrong, I love Buenos Aires and dancing there. But I recognize that these explanations don’t serve my goals as a teacher and dancer – to empower my students and make tango culturally relevant.
Pablo Aslan is a tango musician and musicologist who is very historically informed and clear thinking. He is working on his own music, with his NY band Avantango. He is unfortunately not maintaining the history sections of his website, but I was able to find his excellent work using the way-back machine. Here it is: […]