So about Gender and Tango…

postitleswirl

Fabian Perez tango paintingGender 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 feel competent, but can be intimidating for those who don’t feel up to incarnating the stereotypes.

Women are not required to wear high heels, and many dance better without them. Please experiment with a variety of shoe types and make an authentic choice for your physical and aesthetic pleasure, not for the presumed eyes and judgments of others.

Men are not required to wear suits, but some enjoy playing the gentleman. Of course those who wear suits to work may want a different look at night (perhaps more flamboyant or more boyish?), while those who wear a uniform or casual dress to work may want to dress elegantly. Let tango be a space to expand your personality and expressiveness.

Play gets real

The dark side of gender play is that we may become identified with inegalitarian dimensions of the extreme. For example, women may become identified with the at-times flattering and even thrilling experience of being desired, and adopt a passive role that will not always serve them.

Likewise men who find a welcome new level of self-confidence as a tango leader may take this too far, becoming  arrogant and self-indulgent in judging women.

Of course the extreme dysfunctions of these two roles can synchronize and reinforce each other like a harmonic wave. Arrogance + passivity can be disempowering and alienating. Relating to each other from these extremes can even be  dehumanizing.

Empowered tango

To avoid getting stuck in the negative dimensions an extreme identity,  make friends in the tango scene so that you develop compassionate relationships and authentic enthusiasm for other dancers’ development.

Learning to dance the other role is a powerful way to jolt yourself into another perspective and experience. Exploring a gender role distant from your usual one may provide you with unexpected pleasure as well as information about what’s desirable in a partner playing your usual role.

Women are often excessively intimidated by the prospect of leading. Unexpectedly they often find themselves fascinated by the biomechanics. Leading is a guaranteed path away from the passivity. It also means that you’ll be able to control the musicality, instead of depending on your partner.

To be empowered in the follower role, it’s crucial to stay in contact with your desire. You do not want every or any man. Focus on a few whose dance, cologne, or shoes you like. Give them your attention and your desire. I sit with my stilettos in my lap, looking for at least two objects of desire, one for each shoe. You might want to read my post about desire.

Renaming the roles

The more I experience and enjoy tango the more of a gender essentialist I seem to become. For me it does affirm extreme, nearly fantastic, masculinity and femininity, but as a person I enjoy more and more both of those roles. I am now dancing about 60-70%lead, some weeks are 50/50.  I do not feel that I dance the lead as a woman, but in my maximum masculinity. Depending on my intentions for the next tanda, I hold my body differently, I move differently, I interact with the people around me differently. I make the cabeceo as a man… But my follow is also becoming more and more sensuous, flirtatious, giving, and delicate, and more pleasurable.

I noticed in BsAs some people are talking about a genderless tango, an exchange of roles. I have experienced this too, almost. I still tilt my head like a bull when I take the lead in the middle of a dance.

So I am now reaching to describe what IS that masculinity and what is that femininity? I like the word ‘marcador’ (makes the mark). In English, creator. The role of the follower, best I can describe it so far, is to bring his mark to life, with dynamic, subtle, beautiful motion and power. To give it back to him, a little more beautiful than he imagined.  Simon wrote that he feels that the follower gives LIGHT.

So… The leader makes the MARK in the dark. The follower LIGHTS it so it can be seen. In Castellano, marcador y iluminador.

Update: I finally did rename the roles….

Silences in history. Silences by code. Silences of fear. You already know that Tango’s silences can be sublime and they can be devastating.

What I do in my blog is use myself as a lens – sometimes a microscope, sometimes a telescope. I try to be as honest with myself and you as words concede. Then I try to find a deeper meaning and imagine a pathway for us.

A blog post can be a fragment, a wisp of inspiration, an outline for thinking. A book must complete and reconcile it all. Now I drag the social scientist to the scene to enumerate the facts of the case, the mystery which brought both stardom and tragedy to my life.

I invite you to join my resolution to take a look at the dark silences of Argentine Tango in our lives. It’s time.

Apertures

Newest

All the Blog Posts EVER

Posts by Email

Frustrated?

Themes

SEARCH the Blog

The Berlin Interviews

Guides

More Guides...

2020 TangoForge

6-19.February Wellington NZ
7-9 February Bruges Neo Tango

…DISTANCE…

See you at

Reflect and Train

and

Exercises from Maui

Themes

Important Insights

Books

Power is the courage, confidence, and competence to make things happen. I want to create in a way that’s incomparable and define my own compensation package. You too?

Syntax of Power is a raw, potent, and spare revelation of how I got to where I am and how I take on the struggle every day.

This book is not about tango, it’s about everything else.

It’s about stepping into the darkness of change, learning how to take care of yourself, and making things happen.

Dyv stands for Duro y Vio. We were inspired by a 2007 conference at Harvard University about tango as a transnational culture. Also we wanted to create something that would help people to imagine a queerer tango. We forbid ourselves to use the word ‘passion’ and instead tried to articulate the experience more precisely.

Argentine Tango is more than an elaborate and difficult dance, it is an international culture of intimacy, desire, and dignity. No mere romance or memoir, the intricately woven stories evoke tango’s true mysteries … the elation, the frustration, the compulsion…

We published the book in 2009. Dancers asked “how did you know what I was feeling?”

Silences in history. Silences by code. Silences of fear. You already know that Tango’s silences can be sublime and they can be devastating.

What I do in my blog is use myself as a lens – sometimes a microscope, sometimes a telescope. I try to be as honest with myself and you as words concede. Then I try to find a deeper meaning and imagine a pathway for us.

A blog post can be a fragment, a wisp of inspiration, an outline for thinking. A book must complete and reconcile it all. Now I drag the social scientist to the scene to enumerate the facts of the case, the mystery which brought both stardom and tragedy to my life.

We didn’t start online education in March of 2020. We started in 2014. Learn more about our Digital School