Tango class


Tangotourist in Berlin, Summer 2014

I am sitting in a Berlin tango class, sitting because there are no extra revels. When one came in I excused myself from the man I had been placed with. She accepted my invitation but he then whined that it “wasn’t fair ” for me to get to mark her. You can unpack that one – I’m too tired. Being totally unprepared to fight over a woman, I sat down. The teachers then generously allowed me to stay for free.

Aside from certain retrograde elements, Berlin is very civilized. After 30.minutes of ochos they stop the class for a glass of wine. One teacher collects payments while the other serves from the bar. With 40 students, paying takes a long time; it makes sense to have a secretary/cashier for a tango school.

When class resumes there’s not much more to do. Overall it’s not very taxing, although the students flail with so little instruction.

The teachers’ attitude seems to be “You can come. I will tell you. The rest is up to you.” There were a lot of corrections not made. There was no sense that teachers felt responsible for or proud of the students. And therefore no concern with effectiveness of pedagogy.

I am getting better at using the trains and spelling (if not pronouncing) the street names, but still keep misassessing the walking distances. The blocks are soooo long.  Having a compass helps, but sometimes I still go the wrong way.  It takes me a long time to get anywhere, which means being later and stressed. I think I might have jet lag.

Yesterday I ate an éclair. Today I bought a pair of pants. I’m exhausted.


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.


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