one day at a time

day 89: detail

detail © Verena Fischer 2011

detail © Verena Fischer 2011

Last night I went to tango really late. The subway wasn’t running anymore and I had chosen to take the bike as to not wait for half an hour for the night bus. The streets were empty, the air was crisp and it was a bit chilly if you didn’t cycle fast. I arrived around 1am at Clärchens Ballhaus, sat down, put my tango shoes on and started looking around. The usual chaos on the dance floor had disappeared by this hour and the floor was filled with good dancers. Without too much care I looked up to see whether I could find someone to dance with and … someone I actually didn’t want to dance with had approached and was looking right at me. What to do? For a split second I had the chance to retreat, but my reaction was too slow, he already asked me verbally whether I’d like to dance. I hesitated. Should I go with my instinct and decline? Or should I be polite and dance a few tangos? I decided to be polite since I had danced with this man before and I was a bit curious because I couldn’t quite remember why I didn’t like dancing with him.

My curiosity only got me a bumpy start into the evening. I had to accept three tangos where he repeated two moves that I really disliked over and over. One was a gancho with not enough space and the other was something that hopefully doesn’t have a name and isn’t taught by anyone, because it feels utterly silly. Apparently there was also no change to his dancing since we last danced, at least 4 months ago, because these two moves brought back the memory of another night at Clärchens. Back then I also thought after only one tango with the same leader just at the beginning of the evening that sneaking up to someone who just arrived speaks of desperation. I couldn’t manage to be polite for an entire tanda, because I wasn’t enjoying it at all. I was so wishing for the cortina to play, but when it didn’t come I thanked him after 3 tangos glad that Berlin is not so strict about these rules. Well, lesson learned, next time I will insist on having a drink first.

What strikes me though is that I’m much more patient with beginners than with someone like this. It is obvious that he has danced for years, but that he has been stuck in his dancing for most of this time. In this case it’s not bad basics, it’s bad taste in figures which are on top of things not properly mastered. However, most importantly it has to do with lack of musicality and an embrace that seems like he doesn’t even want to connect. It’s about getting by and therefore not striving anymore. It’s about missing the point. Whatever you do, dancing, photography, art, music, don’t settle with just getting by. At least try to give it your best shot. What’s the point of doing things in such a half-hearted fashion?

This picture was a bit of a struggle by the way. It was an attempt at combining different textures. I’m not sure I’m entirely happy with it, but that’s to be expected when you’re experimenting like this. The texture on the left is the material of my tango shoes. You can see the reflection of the scarf on the right in the top part of the heel. I love these shoes more than ever, now that they actually fit well.


9 responses

  1. jantango

    I recall seeing a milonguera in a milonga in Buenos Aires abandon a partner afterway through a tango. It was her decision for whatever reason. It’s perfectly acceptable. She gave it a try and didn’t have to give any reason. A thank-you got her point across — never again.

    I trust you had more pleasant tandas after that experience. I learned that I’d rather sit enjoying the music than dance with someone who doesn’t dance for me. That may sound arrogant, but that’s why the milongueros dance — to give women pleasure on the dance floor.

    November 9, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    • The “never again” message was precisely what I was trying to avoid. However, maybe that’s just a habit from being used to small tango scenes. Here in Berlin it’s not as if I’m not gonna have anyone to dance with, if I hurt the ego of a guy I don’t even wanna dance with in the first place …

      And yes, you’re right, I had an overall great evening after the initial rough start. There was for example a D’Agostino tanda I thoroughly enjoyed. I also prefer to just sit instead of having a bad tanda! Next time I’ll be less cautious with my no.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:38 am

  2. Wondered how the textures were going to fit in to your story line. Have never seen tango shoes and viewing the image I thought the textures were coming from socks! Dance, dance, dance 🙂

    November 10, 2011 at 2:42 am

  3. I really love details and zooming in on a part of something, because the viewer has freedom to guess the rest of it! like in your photo, well done!

    November 10, 2011 at 12:17 pm

  4. Great textures, indeed – very interesting.
    I’m a TERRIBLE dancer (proverbial two left feet). I much prefer leaning in a corner somewhere and watching people who actually know what they are doing.

    November 10, 2011 at 8:04 pm

  5. I am going to take a courage and ask : where is the shoe ? 🙂

    November 12, 2011 at 9:53 am

  6. I thought the left texture looked like a bit of corduroy fabric and so I’m having trouble visualizing the shoes although I can see the heel. The combination of textures and their curves is interesting though. Pardon my ignorance on tango shoes!

    November 13, 2011 at 8:28 pm

  7. A nervous habit, perhaps? (to pace while talking)

    November 13, 2011 at 8:31 pm

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