Hi Rick,

I am reading your article occasionally now for a couple of weeks. And I think it is very good to explain so detailed what the Tango Argentino is about. I really like your little stories and it is funny to read some of you explanations. Since I have seen the nice compliments you got from all over the world I am not going to repeat them all.

I am living in Berlin and here we have the same annoying situation you described from the US. The so-called Tango Nuevo has taken over. There is no place left where you can dance without using some protecting tools out of martial arts or American football. Actually I was thinking to go with one of my dancing partners on one of this “milongas” wearing ice hockey helmets and knee and elbow protectors. But I am not sure if this is good for our reputation. So I choose another way. I'll explain later.

So I have to say thank you for the immense work you have done. But I also have some criticisms.

Actually I was thinking a couple of times to write a comment. But then you actually mentioned most of the things I wanted to add already. But then I came to chapter six. Although you kind of excused to use it as an example. I think it is neither fair nor objective right to put Zotto in one video with the other couples in chapter 6. I still hope you can see what a big difference there is between them. If not I do not know if you should continue this site. This sounds hard but for me it is a real insult to O. Zotto. Since he is not in a milonga but performing I can see nothing wrong in the dancing. Actually he is doing all the things you promote on your technique chapter (Although his leg is slightly bent sometimes as you said to have some more energy). And I am not sure if you could do one of these movements equally. I am not promoting something like he dances in a milonga for social dancing but to use it as a bad example is not right.

One other thing that really confuses me is the way you speak about people who do not dance like the old milongueros in BsAs. That is not because it is arrogant. Actually I have the same opinion. But it is a totally different story to have such an opinion and mention it between close friends or to put it in the internet. I am not sure if you aware what it does to people who have not been in the lucky situation to come in contact to good instructors. As you said by yourself it takes years to understand what the old music is about (Although I liked the music actually before I started with Tango dancing it took nearly seven or eight years before I realized consciously how much is in there). So I guess there are several million of persons who on their way who would have to think they are complete idiots because the are not understanding what it is about.

In the case you write your article only for people who already got what tango is about this is very good one. But you really think somebody who is in an early stage of Tango will continue reading your article? I think no. And this is a pity. Because these people could learn a lot. We have the same situation here in Berlin. There is for my opinion only one teacher who really knows about Tango. He is a very good dancer and a good teacher. He is Argentine and since most people here in Berlin can not even see how good he is he thinks they do not like him and do not want to learn about Tango. Through this he got a very arrogant attitude and let everybody feel he thinks they are idiots. But it is actually this attitude which keeps people away from his school and Salon. This again is a real pity.

For this reason I think you are (like the teacher from Berlin) sometimes a bit complacent. If you want to reach other people you have to give them a door. Maybe it is sometimes hard but there is no alternative. (By the way you have done very well with the video of Naveira and the Milongueros and the explanation). Especially for young people who did not have had the opportunities to spend years with the music it is very hard to figure out what is so special about the tango you promote. And the situation becomes more complicated through the social changes in our societies.

The way of dancing you prefer is very conservative and in a way I like it too. But lots of younger lady dancers does not want to just accompany of all the funny things the leaders are doing (Very good to see in some of the videos you used in the article). They want to be an active part. I think that is one of the reasons why the stage Tango became so popular (Some other reasons you mentioned already. I agree with your observation but I think it is too simple to see only these points).

Tango has always changed (Your description was very good for me) and it will change further. And I think people with a lot of knowledge like you have the chance to lead this change in a socially acceptable way. That is one of most important points for me. I think it is not good to tell people off because of their dancing priorities (There is no point to discuss taste). The only thing one can do is to make clear that social dancing is only working if everybody stops only to think about themselves. Since the individual became the most important think in western living style everybody seems to have the urge to proof how special he/she is. That is an early educational level of freedom most of us are not really able to handle. Because it gives you a lot of responsibility if you want or not. The less strict rule there are the more complicated it gets (Welcome in Berlin).

I think it makes no sense to abandon a lot of (for many people very attractive) techniques from the milonga. They will come if we want or not. (Another point related to this is what you have said about effectiveness of dancing. I really like this idea. And I think it is very important. But the meaning is of course a different one for somebody who is 30 or 60 years old. Five or six years ago I went to milongas and did very exhausting stuff for up to six hours. Since I did sports all my life it felt not unnatural to me. Since then it has changed a lot. I came a lot closer to the style you probably would describe as effective. But for me it began to change when I was listening to the music more carefully and not because I was too exhausted. But I still use some small elements from stage tango when I have the impression it suits the music and I do not bother anybody. Actually I am not even thinking about it. It just happens. So some people like you would consider me probably as one of the nerds that want to catch everybody’s eyes.

But I could imagine that a lot of rejection towards some techniques from stage tango has also to do with the physical abilities of the people. The average age in Milongas in Berlin is between 40 and 50. I am not sure but I think that is a big difference to BsAs. So lots of people in Bs As milongas would not be able to do lots of movements since they are 20 or 30 years older and lots of them are overweight. You might say now "That’s not necessary. Because they can express everything they want". Probably you are right. But for being honest I want to dance mainly with good dancers in my age. And lots of them love it if there are unpredictable and sometimes complicated things to follow because they want to be challenged in another way a 60 or 70 years old lady probably would like.

I am still not sure but probably the only way is to make clear that you are only doing such techniques if you are able to handle them (control, navigation etc. You explained everything). And here it comes WITHOUT BOTHERING ANYBODY ELSE Including your dancing partner. Another thing you have to consider is that people have changed a lot since the old Milongueros you have mentioned learned to dance. I do not want to insult anybody. I love the videos you are posted and the very subtle way people move, lead and follow. But the social structure and the role models in society have changed. It is very natural that young people often are very ambitious and sometimes they are going far over the point. For me it’s easy to understand (Although I do not like modern dance with Tango elements) that lots of younger women are very attracted to a dancing style where the have a much more active part and where they can do spectacular things. In addition it is not easy for a lady to get good dancers. That’s why lot of them probably unconsciously doing embellishment and leg throwing also for making themselves interesting to other dancers (Lots of leaders like to dance with this kind of ladies not because it is nice to dance with them but so they again are going to be interesting for other ladies (You remember the first and the fourth reason why you have started dancing. I really liked it).

Although the superficial eye-catching stuff is very annoying (I really had to practice not to look when they would do another silly jump or six square meter volcada) the only thing that really bothers me is that the "Tango Nuevo" dancers need for time of the space every other couple need to dance and that most of them are not able to dance in dancing direction. But for being far the worst (most inconsiderate) dancers in Berlin are actually dancers who try to stay with the milonguero style. They are just very bad dancers who can not control the direction they would fall in.

So what is the solution? I do not know. Do we have to separate in different milongas? Sounds good. But it is not working (At least outside of Bs As). Since someone who runs a milonga has to earn money to keep the place they have to please as many people as possible. So they would start to play strange and mostly bad modern music and people changing their dancing.
So the only thing I can do if do not want to stay at home is to dance as nice as possible to show it can be different. Not that I am a good dancer. But I try to dance very nicely very close to the music. And most dancers I have danced with liked it. (One other thing I do occasionally is not to give space when they would run into me because they urgently have to finish this fantastic movement they have learned in on of the twenty workshops they have done during the last two weeks. But I only do it if I can turn my partner out of the way. So sometimes they realize that there was actually no space to do that. But actually I hate to do it because I want to have a nice and relaxed atmosphere for everybody in the milonga.)

Somebody with such profound knowledge and good contact to the source like you could do much more. But I think if you really want to change something and to reach the people who are doing probably something which you would not consider as any part of Tango the first step would be to prove that you understand the situation they are in (You mentioned something like that. But if it is followed by some very bad definitions about what they do it is not working). Sometimes I have the impression that since you are so much into Tango you are probably not always aware about your (first of all mental) stage you have been in before you met the very important people in your Tango live. First of all your obviously wonderful wife.

Actually I wanted to send a very short comment. But I could not stop. I really like your work and there have been some very valuable information for me. I am just thinking all the time how could one change this silly situation in the milongas in Berlin. And I think your site could be one of the keys. I already sent it to all the tango people I know. So I did not wanted to tell you how you have to do things. I am sure you know. It is just suggestions.

Thank you again for your free accessible work. I have to excuse my English. I hope you could understand what I wrote.

Ps. One technical question:
On page 14 in chapter six, you perform nice stepping. After your feet contact the ground exactly with the compás there is this sliding effect. Is your partner suppose to do the same effect when you dance together?     ;-)

Wish you the best and nice regards to Alej although I do not know her (I really like her comments)

- Frank Seifarth (Berlin)  October , 2008