Wednesday 23 March 2011

Tango Friends

Last weekend, I've been teaching in Amsterdam. As we‘ve been there a couple of times, we know quite some people and places. It feels good to come to a town, where you‘ve already made friends.
But it‘s sad to say good-bye.
You might know what I‘m talking of, even if you are no travelling teacher: The Tango community has grown into a fast-paced, international crowd. People are travelling to Buenos Aires, Berlin and Rome to visit Milongas, Marathons or Festivals, either as teachers or as consumers/students. And isn‘t it great to make so many friends everywhere? Tango allows us to get to know another person quite intimately in a very short time. The embrace, the sweat, the all night dancing, sharing breakfast in the mornings and yes, all the time we spend in classes, trying to explore a new world. Tango is a challenging dance: it demands that we bring in our whole personality, our body, our soul. You give a lot and you receive a lot. No wonder, that Tangueros get addicted to that kind of nomad life!
But are we really making friends? 
Do we not meet in a kind of bubble, where everything evolves about Tango and where huge parts of our life are blanked? Do you know the name of person you just greeted so enthusiastically? Do you know, if your dance-partner has got siblings, a wife, a husband? Do you know her job and do you know her plans for the future? Do you know, if he sleeps well at night or if he‘s suffering from a disease? Most likely not. Because all we talk about is Tango. We meet, we dance, we chat... and we leave again. 
Two weeks ago, I heard of the death of a dancer, that I used to meet regularly a couple of years ago. We spend quite some time together but then I stopped going to the Milongas that she frequented. And I forgot about her. Until I got the message of her passing away. 
Is this an exception? What about yourself? Will your Tango friends remember you, when you stop going to Milongas, because you‘re ill or old or just fed up. Won‘t most of them forget you? When I am going to stop teaching and dancing, people will talk about this for a couple of weeks. Some of them will regret it deeply, I‘m sure. But soon they‘ll forget, because there are so many new people, faces, impressions. It‘s overwhelming.
Sure... you do not forget everyone. There are the ones, that you get to know a little better. Maybe you even talk about non-Tango-stuff, get a glimpse into real-life. And you really like that person. You feel that you‘re making a friend. But very soon, you will have to go back to your hometown or to the next gig. If you‘re lucky, you will meet again in a couple of months or next year. And you will start all over again with the getting-to-know process. People change and you cannot keep up with these changes by checking the news on Facebook.
And what about your non-tango friends at home? How often do you meet them? You‘re most likely taking classes or going to Milongas during the week and on the weekends there‘s the Festivals... I‘ve heard so many Tangueros complain about the fact, that they‘ve lost most of their „other“ friends“. And that the „friendships“ in Tango remain superficial.
Building a friendship takes time and maintaining it as well. Do we still have that time?
I try my best. I meet my non-tango friends as often as possible. I try to stay in touch with people, whom I get to know and like during my travels. I try to get to know them better, whilst I‘m with them. But there‘s never enough time before I have to leave again.
I try. But there‘s too many good-byes!


Litzo said...

I guess just like the rest of life, friends come and go. The social buzz of knowing so many people and these friendships is fun, and like in the non-tango world we make maybe very few life long friends. Not all friendships have to be deep and meaningful and saying goodbye to friends is always sad, but better to have those friendships and say goodbye than to have not experienced them I think.

Mirjam said...

I agree incident of my mother forced me to stay away 5 weeks...and it was astonishing who was interested in my absence. Let's go on trying the best, to deepen dance and friendships.
I'm looking forward to FESTIVALITO!
big hug! Mirjam

NegatroN said...

Welcome to live! ;-)
That is just the way out live is - tango or not. If you get around, you meet people. Sometimes they become friends. Most of the times they remain loose contacts. But there's nothing wrong with that.

Melina Sedo said...

I know, that this is just normal life! But I find it nevertheless sad. I travel so much, meet so many people - and have got so little time to keep up friendships. Will change that again! :-)

Tina said...

What a lovely post, and so appropriate for the moment. I'm currently struggling to balance my tango life with my non-tango personal life, which of course is not so easy as I myself have been on the road. I've been reflecting a lot on this. I'm not sure I have an answer, but I just wanted to peek in and acknowledge that I enjoyed reading and do relate. :-)

msHedgehog said...

Only meeting people through work! Perhaps you need a hobby ;)

Melina Sedo said...

@ Ms. Hedgehog: I DO have hobbies, that I share with my friends: the BookClub (we just met yesterday), my roleplaying... and other stuff as well. Problem is: there's almost no time to execute those hobbies with my friends! Because I'm away working almost all the time. As I said: too many goodbyes!

@ Tina: Thanks, Dear! Hope to meet you in Italy this year. Maybe in Montecatini, in two weeks.... ??

jamesy said...

Melina, do not be sad, enjoy the meetings, the embraces and the moments as they happen, and always look forward. We are only on this Earth for a limited time so everyday counts. I know you have a pretty transient life but celebrate the fact that you can touch and be touched by very many different people and of course, they all cannot become dear friends, but some can and will, you just have to let it happen...

Alessandra said...

What you say is a bit 'sad but true ... The friendships, the real ones, should be cultivated with mutual exchange, but unfortunately sometimes you can not reconcile all (commitments, work, home, leisure, family, .. . friends). I feel inside me a little "bubble" where I keep all the people who feel close to me (or friends with whom I exchange a deeper, and sometimes people that I know very little but I have entered the heart through a sort of "instinctive affinity"), so I always carry with me in my thoughts.

Melina Sedo said...

Thanks all so much for your warm comments. I find it indeed great to meet so many people all over the world with whom you share your ideas, your time. And I do know, that not all of these encounters can turn into friendships. But some of them might, given time.
My post maybe sounded more romantic and sadder than I actually a am. I am kinda realistic and often, I cannot abide being with people, as I'm constantly surrounded by them. I also need my friend-free space. When I come home after a gig, I do not even leave my apartment, because I need to be alone.
But sometimes, this just bugs me!
And it should, because it reminds me what Tango and life are all about: making connections.

And now I'm gonna connect to my DVD-player. That's just fine after a days's work. :-)

Good night!

Tina said...

Ciao Melina,
Alas I won't be in Montecatini, but in April I WILL be in Crema at Yo Soy Milonguero, and I think you will be there too! :-D What would we do without these encuentros!

Anca Gheaus said...

I have been thinking about this a lot as well. Tango friendships seem to me similar to other friendships which are instrumental to achieving a shared goal - beauty, or knowledge, or a better world or whatever. In this case, hopefully, beauty :-) When the goal is not shared anymore, or when some are unable to get involved for a while, the friendships go on standby... and it is not all bad, actually. Would we really like to get hundreds of 'are you all right' questions if we failed to show up in milongas for a month or three?

Chris said...

To me the "Tango scene" seems to be very much focused on itself (and its spinoff interests like Argentine culture, tango music and orchestras etc). While this may seem trivial it is still surprising that although you - while dancing with each other - share intimate moments both physically and spiritually don't know a lot about what your counterpart does outside in the "real world". I think there are two reasons for this: first, Tango is very demanding, both in being a technically complex dance as well as in imposing high expectations on musicality, interpretation, attention to your partner and the fellow couples dancing, creating a sense of urgency that leaves not too much room for other communication. Second, IMHO people enjoy this "otherworldly" experience, where accomplishments outside the Milonga don't really count. Like in real world there are only very few people you get to know better, because you share further common interests. And sometimes it is very astonishing what you learn in the real world about people you have known only as Milongueros - both positive and negative. Maybe we should bring more of real life into the enclosed Tango world - but on the other hand it might make openly sharing intimate moments with people you have never seen before much more difficult. A certain anomymity may be required to be able to play to the rules of Tango that the "scene" imposes on itself. It is up to every one of us to demand, foster, accept or not adhere to those rules. In my opinion people that you deem worthy of spending more personal attention than required for a Tanda or two are well chosen to become friends also in the "real world". And as with all friends time invested into friendship, regardless whether you met your friends while dancing Tango or not, will pay off.

Andrew (Tango West, Bristol) said...

It's strange maybe, but I've never viewed Tango as a social outlet (clearly
social though it is). I suspect however, that most people who attend classes and
events see it principally as a social expression (this is not the only reason by any means). I feel that there is a longing in people for something, many things;
but I wonder if Tango will really fill the gap. One enduring feeling for me
is finding the perfect moment in the dance with a complete stranger, and
perhaps never meeting again. Tango is an fantasy world, an illusion; this might be part of it's attraction. To enter the Milonga is saying goodbye to the outside world
and entering this twilight world; this is why I love the ritual and ceremony implicit in the 'Milonga Codes'. The fun-fun party-party tango which many people seem to go
for is strangely unappealing, but perhaps this creates the impression that one has lots of friends, if that's what people want.
However it is an inescapable fact that most Tangos express feelings of longing, loss, pain and nostalgia. If we could speak Spanish (which I don't) this might be clearer. So what are we buying into when we come to Tango? Are we trying to transcend or transform these feelings in the embrace? By sharing, somehow lessen them? If we come to doubt the world that says we are having so much
fun and have a zillion friends, maybe our understanding of Tango will deepen.
Anyway, sorry to sound so pompous and morbid, actually Tango is a lot of fun,
but maybe we only have a small number of real friends throughout our lives no
matter what we do. Andrew (tango West, Bristol)

Tango Therapist said...

In two different cities, I have seen two funerals for dancers who have died. The communities swarmed around the widow in DC and widower in Austin. One of the most moving memorials happened at a dance studio during this time. I have stayed in contact with people who fell away because of busy schedules or injuries. They have never come back. I am highly informed about how to define a friendship from working as a therapist with combat vets and alcoholics -- sometimes their vision is that a true friend is something that they cannot be themselves; so they end up not having any friends. Too me a friend is someone who influences me in a positive way. Period. Socrates can be my friend or a tanguera. It may be forever or just from one thing they said or did that changed my life. Melina, I think that you are being that kind of person for many people. But you need that also for yourself: an influence that transforms or simply nurtures your life. I think you probably have lots of these too.