TomTom Tango - navigating your way through the fusion jungle: Introduction

16th November 2008

"Ah, you seek meaning? Then listen to the music, not the song." - Kosh, Babylon 5

Martial arts and recommending Tango teachers

About a decade ago a martial artist called Marc MacYoung made an important realisation. At the time a lot of people were arguing about which art / style / teacher was the "best". What he realised was that they were all studying for different reasons.

So, a martial artist who's focusing on winning tournaments will need a different approach to someone who just wants some basic self defence. The ability to punch through a wooden board may not be of much use in a knife fight - especially as the helpful martial artists holding the board won't be there in the alley to assist. And so on.

In other words, there is no "best" - there are simply many different routes to achieving different goals.

Tango is the same (although with not quite as much of the hitting-people thing).

There are many different Tango teachers (dozens in London alone), but when you ask someone if a teacher is "good" they may well be using a different set of criteria to you. It doesn't help that some (many) teachers are also remarkably vague about what it is they're actually focussing on in their classes.

And this is also one of the reasons why it's very difficult to recommend tango teachers to other people - it all depends on what you're looking for.

What this is, and what it's not

So, this "fusion" section will attempt to act as a road-map for you.

It's broken into the following parts:

  • To start, we'll try to help you sort out your destination; why do you want to do tango?
  • Then it shows you the main pitfalls so you can avoid them, as well as some alternate solutions.
  • Next, it'll point you in the direction of teachers that are currently focused on that aspect of tango.
  • Lastly, there's a recommendation of articles on the site that you'll probably find helpful

The basic concept is that you can use this section as a sat-nav system for your Tango journey. Hence the name "TomTom Tango" - in case you were worrying about that.

What it isn't

For the reasons outlined above, this section will not tell you which route one is the "best".

The "social dancing" mantra, as used in Modern Jive, applies here. If you enjoy doing it (and you're not hurting anyone) then carry on. All the approaches are valid.

Again, there is no "best".

So how do I use it then?

If you're just Beginning Tango

  1. Look down the list of routes
  2. Find one(s) that matches your requirements
  3. Read through and follow the directions.

Simple, really.

If you've been doing Tango for a while

That said, it's worth noting that at some point in your tango journey you may want to change your focus.

For example, perhaps you first started because you just wanted to improve your connection, but as time has gone by you now want to learn a fusion. Perhaps you learnt the "pure" tango but now want to use it within Modern Jive. And so on. People change.

For a lot of people this can get very frustrating - what started off as something they enjoyed and a teacher they were enthusiastic about starts becoming clouded by a feeling of disillusionment. At this stage many people get quite bitter about their teacher and wander off in search of someone else.

However, if this does happen to you, most likely all that's happened is that you've changed your focus, but your teacher (understandably) hasn't.

In this case, have a read through all the descriptions until you get a "light bulb" moment of "Ah that's what I want to do now!", then carry on as before on your new route.

One other thing. Although it's sad to realise a teacher doesn't have anything more to teach you, it's much easier to be grateful to them for taking you to this point in your journey, than to be angry because they can't take you to the next point.

The Routes

Here are some route suggestions:

I want to...

 - Christopher O'Shea, 16th November 2008