Categories
Humor

A tango for you

(The original appeared in the CharlestonMercury Newsletter).

Even the heat of a Lowcountry summer seems a bit brisk compared to the sultry Argentine tango. Image in public domain. (Ed)


Having been asked by the Mercury to write a little bit about my experiences in the mysterious world of the tango, I thought it appropriate to address the most common questions I receive. Such questions are perfectly legitimate and I’m always happy to answer them.

The decorous expectations of the “salmon sheets” restrict me from writing some of my more colorful thoughts … but there is a good-humored difference between what I think and what I say. So here goes the Q&A … if you have additional questions, please feel free to contact me through the Mercury.

Q: “Wow! Eleven years! You must be an expert?”

A: “No, but I’m average,” is what I say.

What I’m thinking: “You play golf? Wow, 11 years! You must be as good as Tiger Woods!”

Q: “Oh, I’d love to do that, but I can’t dance.”

A: “We have weekly lessons. Tango is a walking dance — if you can walk, you can tango.”

What I’m thinking: “Yep, I was born with the “Gene Kelly gene” and one day, when I was four years old, I pulled away from my mother, snatched a hot blonde out of a convertible and recreated the dance number from Singin in the Rain on King Street in front of the old Kerrison’s Department store. Dude, you’re looking at a short, obese middle-aged guy who was always picked last for any sport from first grade through ninth grade gym. That’s why you take lessons. And practice”

Q: “Is it hard?”

A: “If you can walk, you can tango!”

What I’m thinking: “While you’re taught some steps, Argentine tango is a completely improvised social dance using all non-verbal communication in which the leader must maintain their own axis and balance, know at all times what foot the follower is on, communicate direction, distance and speed with energetic communication and musicality all the while dancing to the ability and heart of the follower. The follower is reading these subtle and energetic forms of communication so as to move, almost in any direction, at any time, without anticipation or expectation, backwards, in high heels almost always on one foot. Yep — it’s a breeze.”

Q: “Do you have to have a partner?”

A: “No, some couples do come regularly and some dance mostly with each other, but most people dance with everybody.”

What I’m thinking: A delicate analogy works better here than anything else but, alas, my filter has kicked in again. A good tango friend summed it up this way. “If you’re in a relationship and only one of you dances tango, that’s a problem. If you’re in a relationship and you both dance tango, that’s also a problem.”

Q: “How did you hear about it?”

A: True story. I attended a meetup event in a group that I had been attending for quite a while. A new woman walked in and sat down, so later I walked over to make her feel welcome. As we were going through the usual “what do you do/where are you from/what brings you here, blah, blah, blahs, I became obsessed with the four packs of breath mints next to her purse.

“Ok, I can’t help it,” I say, “What’s the deal with the breath mints!?!? Is there something we need to know about your breath? Or were you expecting a problem with our breath?”

She burst out laughing. “No,” she said, “I dance Argentine tango and when you’re that close to people, breath mints are a must. Maybe not four packs.”

My head turned to the side like a German shepherd who hears a high-pitched sound no one else can hear but he doesn’t recognize.

“What the hell is Argentine tango?”

There’s a free class every Tuesday at MUSC and the rest is history. And I always carry breath mints.

[That free class is now five dollars and still is every Tuesday … except during global pandemics because tango, if you think about the whole cheek-to-cheek thing, is mildly out of accord with social distancing rules. Anyway, you can find us as the Charleston Argentine Tango Society (C.A.T.S) on Facebook. Before attending, I recommend you visit YouTube and search “Argentine tango” and at least take a peek down Alice’s Rabbit Hole. ]

Last Q: “Why do you do it?”

A: “We all crave connection. When you get on the dance floor with a perfect stranger, chest to chest, cheek to cheek, heart to heart and the music starts and your breathing synchronizes and you move in perfect harmony, with the music, with the beat, in what tango calls ‘two bodies, four legs, one heart’ and you lose all sense of time and space till, at the end, the music stops and you stay in the embrace a moment or two longer … that’s why.”

Lawrence Laddaga is partner at Laddaga and Garrett, a leading local provider of legal services for the health care industry. And his breath is minty, minty fresh. (Ed)


Categories
Argentine Tango Dance Humor

Men: How to know when your Dancing is Not up to Par and Needs Therapy

I arrived at my private Argentine Tango Lesson on Friday and said, “I need Tango therapy”. “What’s wrong?”, she asked. “I seem to dance fine at classes, but then I go to milongas [social dances] and my dancing just falls apart.” I’m not sure if it’s performance impotence or premature ambulation”. She laughed, then looked at me with that look that was a cross between regret that the ACLU provided the State an excuse to close all the mental health hospitals in the state and the look that says “I want to beat you with a tire iron”, which reminds me wistfully of my mother, who died in 1988, but all she said was “I’m not going there”. Then she said, “What do you think it is?”, to which I replied, “I don’t know, that’s why I’m here”. I love when you go to a doctor or other professional and they ask, “what do you think it is?” uhhh, if I had figured it out, would I be here? Anyway, she asked me how I knew my dancing was falling apart, then of course, she pretty immediately figured it out, and fixed it, which is why she is the goddess of tango and Zumba and all things dancing.

However, the rest of the day, I did reflect on her question, “how did you know your dancing was falling apart?” question, and it occurred to me that if SHE didn’t know how I knew, then maybe other guys needed some help figuring out when THEIR dancing needed some help. So, while I’m not expert, here’s just a partial list of clues you might focus on that’s suggestion your dancing at social dances needs some work. While this is taken from Argentine Tango, I’m pretty sure this applies to the Shag, Ballroom Dancing, Contra Dancing, maybe even free style, rock and roll dancing, as when it comes to dancing, I think women are pretty universal in this regard.

1. When most of the women you dance with, look at you at the end of the dance, like your neighbor does, when someone’s dog craps on her yard, this is a sign your dancing is falling apart.

2. When she gets back to the table, and takes out a voo doo doll that remarkably looks like you and starts sticking knitting needles through the groin area, this is a sign your dancing is falling apart.

3. When you’re dancing with someone you’ve danced with many times before, and both of you know things aren’t going well, and she blames the floor, the lighting, the humidity, and the recent outbreak of solar flares, this is a sign your dancing is falling apart.

4. When you go to a table where a lady you have previous asked to dance is sitting to ask someone else to dance, and the entire rest of the table gets overactive bladder and leaps to the bathroom likes the starting gun for the Boston Marathon has just gone off, this is a sign your dancing is falling apart.

5. At the end of the tanda, she looks at you and says “thank you”, but has that same expression on her face you saw those few days when Nelson Mandela died, this is a sign your dancing is falling apart.

6. At the end of the dance, when she has that look in her eyes, like your loved one does, as if you just gave her a vacuum cleaner for Valentines day, instead of the lingerie, diamond necklace, and massage she was hoping for, then this is a sign your dancing is falling apart.

Hope it helps.