The hostile period

I held this post for months after writing it, hoping I could alchemize it into a gift, but that hasn’t happened. One thing I know is that Tango Changes. Artists have periods: The blue period. The abstract period. I’m having a hostile period. This text is dated on the writing, 25.May 2015. (It’s October now. A lot has happened that I haven’t been able to write about because I’m still in this post.)

 

I have some new private lesson students, baby beginners.

“Why tango?” I ask, as usual.

“Well, it’s not really tango–” they said “it’s you.”

Wow. What a compliment.

But it’s a bad moment.

I’ve just hit the decade milestone. And I think tango might be dead (for me).

I’m drinking more than I’m dancing. It’s getting expensive.

A few weeks ago I lurched into a commitment with Berlin when a sudden tenancy disaster closed the possibility of returning to my sweet Sydney flat.  So here I am living in the second tango capitol, and I’m not dancing.

I’m annoyed with myself. “It took a lot of courage and work and support to get here. Now enjoy it! Take some yerba mate, put on a cute skirt, and go smile. There are always dancers you haven’t tried yet.”

In a couple of hours I find myself sitting next to one of Berlin’s more interesting dancers. Aware that he often seeks my eyes, I know that all I have to do is turn my head to secure the dance with him. And I cannot get it up to even do that. Additionally, there’s one stranger in the room who slightly intrigues me, but after making two sets of preliminary eye contact, I don’t bother to look again.

Nobody inspires me and everybody holds me too tight.

I can no longer rely on milongas to bring me a modicum of joy. At the end of last year, I had adjusted to a frugal experience of choosing one or two partners each night. Now I go out and I can’t even turn my head. One glass of wine turns into three and I become hostile. I entertain myself with a stopwatch, timing the frequency of “The Evil Sequence“. Tango has around 25 movements, most of which have so many variations they are hard to count. Add a few stops on the continuum of dynamic range and we get close to 1000 movements which ought to give us the diversity of expression of Piano Music. And people are dancing three or four sequences, three hours a night, four nights a week, and holding me like I’m going to run away – or collapse?

I think the biggest turnoff is the lack of trust. Even the best dancers I dance with refuse to trust me. I am talking about a very physical trust. Let me move my own body, put it where it need to be so that I can support myself (and you!), and so that I can create a quality of movement within your mark.

If this were a serious project, I would be able to say “You need to move your arm so I can do my job here. Thank you. Ok let’s go rock the house.” But I am dealing with people who are infected by some kind of Argentine ego-virus (how is that transmitted?) protected by the “codes”  (No matter how bad it is, or how easily it could be fixed, we are not going to talk about it!) So it is *not possible* to have a normal adult conversation about logistics or pleasure.

I am tired of the silence, ego unfounded on virtuousity, the hunger, and all those high heels.

I want a huge challenge and to do it with serious people.

Stop memorizing sequences* and start improvising from the elements of Tango

*or being annoyed with yourself for not being able to remember them.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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