Pain games

An Argentine “friend” is due to visit. Eight years ago, he was a great inspiration to me.

Three years ago we met, and I thought we were well-matched on the dance floor.

Apparently he was well-matched with my guest-room.

Last year he saw fit to rave about the dancing of one of my friends, who has also been my student.

This year, he gives extravagant compliments to another such friend.

And when I suggest some milongas we might go to during his visit, answers cryptically “I’m coming to Berlin to dance with good dancers.”

This comment and its possible implications for his assessment of me (as he doesn’t clearly include me in that group), twist and burn inside me.

Is it my ochos? Is it my smile? My friends are skinnier and younger and more charming than me. Is it my dancing or my personality? Is it because I am a peer, and there is a threat there, which my friends do not pose?

Since this month is devoted to one of my new maxims: “Silence is Self-Violence”, I decide to ask him, straight up, if I am on his list of “good dancers”.

Now I am the kind of tanguera who never, under any circumstances or in any way, asks or pressures a man to dance with me. I am the kind of person who takes my own confidence in the dancing I do and what I create with my partner and doesn’t ask for confirmation.

Daring, this one or anyway first time, just rips open a box of pain. All the times I didn’t know. All the quiet self-assaults made in this forest of doubt.

Most of the torment can be organized around the following two questions:

“Why doesn’t he dance with me?”

“Why does he dance with me?”

This is the first time I’ve asked anyone to answer a question like this because tango is a culture of silence. Like drug dealers we have a visible conversation (that’s the dance) while making a handoff. We are making back-room deals for professional connections, sex, and a place to sleep, while we dance. This is ugly. No one wants to talk about it.

No one wants to admit the desperation that is electroplated to the pride and glamour of this life.

I try to tell myself that what I make is art, or pedagogy. But I fear that what we make at tango, is lies.

I want you to know that you are not alone…

… neither in your dreams for tango nor in your frustrations.

My deepest desire is the same as all my students and friends … those who have yet to start dancing and those who dance a lot.

It’s partnership.

One thing I’ve learned on this quest, we need to:

Stop Waiting for Partners, and start Building them.

I’ve written a 10-step Action Plan.

Are you ready to find the Partners you want?




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Important Insights


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.

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