Sunday, October 22, 2006

Tango is Tango

It's not unusual to take for granted the special attributes bestowed upon us by the Creator. A good tango dancer listens to the music. A great tango dancer understands it. Many who consider tango a pastime or just another dance, might as well be declared legally deaf because they show a total disregard for the beautiful sounds that the instruments and voices of tango convey. As it happens with real deaf people, there is no real listening and their dancing experience is full of rhetorical arguments about the roles each member of the couple plays. That is why it breaks my heart when someone very dear tries very hard to get the gist of many tango lyrics while at the same time many of us who have been born with the natural gift of understanding Manzi, Carriego and many others, show low tolerance and outright contempt for those who try to grasp the essence of the tango in a gringo way. I regret ever being wrong about my perception of the tango world. To hear the first bars of Guys, the line of dancing is forming, (Muchachos comienza la ronda) sung in a husky Marilyn Monroe-like voice is something that touches me very deep and makes me understand why tango waited so long to find me.

Yes, the music of a tango invites the formation of the line of dance. Who, after listening to the outburst of a song so brillant, does not get up to dance to entangle his or her emotions to that song that becomes a soul within your soul? The music of tango invites us to enter the dance hall. For you see, that's how la ronda begins. So, don't miss a single beat of a tango that is captivating, rebel and sweet. And while in the middle of turns and gallant flirtations, let's imagine that we're back living in a joyful past. In a happy time of gray cocked hats, of loquacious amorous compliments and of street lamps of the arrabal. Don't miss a single beat. If you listen to the tango you'll see how nice it is to dance.

What is tango dancing, many ask? Is it a struggle for supremacy on the dance floor between men and women who are coy to act their roles and prefer to be interchangeably 'leaders' or 'followers'?

A tango lyric says that tango is a union of notes and words modulated on every street corner and dominated by a live emotion that is shared. It is a song inspired by the reminiscences that put us to sleep every night. It is a sound sweeter and ever so seductive. Or is it the husky voice of a loving gringa that keeps suggesting a dance, Muchachos comienza la ronda...? Wrapped in an illusion, I heard the voice last night, full of emotions for things about my past. There it was the house where I was born, the window bars, the vine arbor, the old corner carrousel and the rosebush. With this dare of emotion it is easy to reach one's heart. Perhaps, that is what tango is, an emotion. Its accent is the song of a sentimental voice, its rhythm is the beat that lives within a city. Tango does not have any pretensions, it does not want to be indecent. It's so humble and so simple in its beats, that there is no need to write a bad example in each phrase.

Tango is tango, tango and nothing else - (Jose M. Suñe)

Alberto Paz
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