Tango Fusion: One step at a time

28th November 2008

(Part of the Tango Fusion collection of articles.)

"Walk the thousand mile road, step by step" - Miyamoto Musashi


If you want to get to England from Scotland, "head south" will pretty much work. Say you want to go to Negracha though. You'll still probably just "head south" for a while and then as you get nearer to England, make a course adjustment to hit London and then do the more subtle navigating to actually get to your destination. If you want the Nuevo tango floor, going downstairs is probably the last thing you'll actually do.

There's a similar thing with these maps. Depending on where you are on your journey the type of directions and how specific they are changes. There's very little point when you're in Scotland thinking "go downstairs". It'll most likely take you to your neighbours!

Filtering people

For example, consider just the filtering element of the cabeceo as a way for the follower to chose whether she wants to dance with this man to this music.

Most beginners in the UK are blissfully unaware of it. Well what's the actual use of filtering dances if you're a beginner follower? Yes there's a few weird / annoying guys out there, but by and large when you're learning you want dances. Then when you get to intermediate you'll probably hear about it and maybe experiment a bit.

It's like in Modern Jive, when you begin you want all the dances you can get. When you reach the intermediate level, you still want dances, but you start to develop a feel for the type of dances that you want - fast, slow, bluesy, lots of moves, good connection, smooth, bouncy etc - and the types of music you prefer to dance to. So, now there will be people / songs you'll avoid, not because they're "bad" (you may well have enjoyed dancing with them a year ago), but simply because now they just don't suit where you are

(By the way, if you look at the way most MJers actually "filter" who they're dancing with, and to which tunes, it's remarkably similar in practice to the cabeceo).

This is where people tend to start choosing freestyles / milongas based on the music and the people most likely to be there. By the time you reach "advanced" (or whatever people want to call it) you'll probably be fairly specialised in what kind of dancing will bring you enjoyment. Now you want a filtering mechanism!

Filtering places

You're also going to be a lot more fussy about where you dance, the type of music and the people who are there, the MJ equivalent of Weekenders or Specialist Freestyles. Again, despite the MJ cries of "Hotshot!" it's simply that you've moved to a different place. Your directions are now "head downstairs" rather than "head south". But you're both still heading to the same place.

What can also happen is that the person is traveling to a different place, but they've gotten lost because they didn't have this road map; how much you want to filter them probably depends on where you both are on the journey. So using the analogy we started with, two people heading from Scotland, one to Wales one to England could both "travel south" for a while, but there will reach a point where one of you is heading in the wrong direction.

Enjoy the Journey

"Few things are as painful as the truth realized too late."

The further along you travel, the fewer people there are, and the harder it will be to dance with people who've gone in different directions or are simply not as far along the journey as you.

The wonderful thing about tango and MJ is that you can have wonderful "Little Miss Happy Feet" dances pretty much from Day One.

Enjoy them.

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 - Christopher O'Shea, 28th November 2008