Do You Come Here Often?

Original: 22nd July 2009

Revised: 26th January 2011

(More Unlocking the Milonga articles.)


Devon MacLeish: What does a girl have to do to impress you?
Oz: Well, it involves a feather boa and the theme to A Summer Place. I can't discuss it here.
Devon: You're too picky, man. Do you know how many girls you could have? You're lead guitar, Oz. It's currency!
Oz: I'm not picky. You're just impressed by any pretty girl that can walk and talk.
Devon: She doesn't have to talk.

~ Buffy The Vampire Slayer

OK, so you've done the cabaceo thing, you've danced the dance, the music's what? For the next 10-20 seconds do you stand there in awkward silence half-in, half-out of the embrace? Do you make bite-sized small talk? Or do you reach into the back pocket of your mind for a winning one-liner you prepared earlier?

It depends.

If you're in close embrace and she just stays there, then forget about conversation. Take the moment to make sure she's comfortable. Relax your shoulders. Then just breathe - remember this involves your ribcage actually moving.

Insert name here

"Hello, {Insert Name Here}!" ~ The Dis-organiser (Terry Pratchett, Jingo)

If on the other hand she shift out of the embrace here's some things to say while waiting for the next song to start with someone you don't know.

"Hi, I'm [Insert Name Here]"
"Are you from around here?"
"Where else do you dance?" (Tip: if asked this, just answer "Oh around, lots of places, you know. How about you?" )
"Have you ever been to [Insert Venue Name Here]?"
"That was lovely"
"That's a lovely dress / earring / perfume you're wearing"
"Well that music was interesting"

If you know them, try talking :p. However it's bad etiquette to discuss work, family and any thing else potentially depressing. Tango is an escape from the Real World and its responsibilities. Here's how it can go wrong...

Take One: I wish I hadn't known that...

Me: Excuse me, would you like to dance?
Stunningly Beautiful Woman: Yes, I'd like that
Takes hand and leads partner onto the floor, waits for music to start.
Me: I noticed you'd been sitting out for a while. Do you dance here often?
SBW: It's my first time here.
Me: It's only my second time here. I'm still a beginner. Have you been dancing tango long?
SBW: About ten years...

Swallows, panics and stumbles round the floor for the next two and half minutes, treading twice on SBW's stunningly beautiful toes. Music ends.

SBW: Thank-you


On the other hand, perhaps this would have happened...

Take Two: and later we shall dance

Notices stunningly beautiful woman sitting alone. Goes over.

Me: When they play a tango, perhaps we can dance if that's ok
SBW: Thank you, I would like that.
Me: Until then, may I sit here?
SBW: Please do.
Me: I've not seen you here before?
SBW: It's my first time in London.
Me: Where do you regularly dance?
SBW: (shyly) Buenos Aires.
Me: I couldn't help notice that you've sat here alone, all evening.
SBW: (Thinks: you are the only person to notice) I like to watch the room, absorb the pace of the dancers, see who I might like to dance with. I prefer not to dance every tanda.
Me: Ah. Well, I am just a beginner, six months into my tango journey. I think, perhaps, I may not give you a dance worthy of your experience?

She smiles inwardly and determines to give him the dance of his dreams takes his hand and leads him onto the floor. They dance. Stunningly beautiful woman. feels an immediate connection and is taken aback, then relaxes. This is of course tango. The music ends. Pause. The silence is too poignant. It has to be broken.

SBW: You expressed the music very well.
Me: That's kind of you. You dance elegantly with lovely style

The music starts. We dance again. Despite the brief interlude we are still in flow. It is even better than before. The music ends. Pause.

Me: Have we danced enough...or do you wish to continue.
SBW: I can never resist Canaro.

The music starts again. We dance a third time. Again it goes well. The music ends. Pause.

Me: Thank you. That was delightful. I've enjoyed dancing with you. Moving to leave
SBW: (Smiling): Then, shall we continue...

The music starts again. We dance a final time. The music ends. Silently we embrace, then separate. I take her hand and walk her back to her seat.


But what are the painful odds that this could have been the most likely outcome...

Take Three: Bonfire of the Inanities

Me: Hi, would you like to dance?
SBW: Yea, ok
Me: Come on then
SBW: Hang on, let me finish me drink...

We dance. It goes well, very well.

Me: That was alright.
SBW: Yea, wasn't it.
Me: Haven't seen you here before.
SBW: Nah. First time, innit.
Me: How come you weren't dancing?
SBW: Cos, no-one bleedin' well asked me. And I couldn't ask anyone 'cos of the damn codigos. Tried catching a few blokes' eyes, but I just got mascara in me peepers, so I got fed up with that cabaceo lark.
Me: Yea, it's a bit of caper.

Neither notices that the music has started again, until four couples have bumped into them.

Me: Oops, we're a bit in the way here. Shall we dance again?
SBW: Yea, alright.

We dance. Nicely enough, but the spell is broken. The music ends. Pause. Silence.

Me: Another one?
SBW: Yea, alright

We dance. It's ok. The music ends. Pause.

Me: That was nice. Thanks. One more?
SBW: Don't mind if I do, ta.

We dance. It's ok, but there's no magic any more. The music ends. Pause.

Me: That was fun. Fancy another go later?
SBW: Yea, be lovely.


What's the point?

"What's the point of that one? I chose tree. I'm a nature kind of guy." ~ Ben Obomanu

I guess the point of this, and countless other possible scenarios, is that good conversation may enhance the connection, while banal chatter is just that, and no substitute for a good silence which can help both dancers stay in the mood.

For me, my moment of tango magic will stay with me because nothing was said. I had no idea who the stunningly beautiful woman in my arms was. I didn't need to. She raised my dance to a height I had never reached before. I hope she enjoyed it, too. My friends who were watching said she looked like she was.

Mostly, we don't have those magical dances. We have good dances and bad ones. Sometimes we dance well, sometimes we stumble. But it's likely in the everyday dances that we can best explore whether conversation can improve the connection.

P.S. The part of Stunningly Beautiful Woman was reimagined for the page by 'Elizabeth'

 ~ 'Snowtango', 26th January 2011

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