My first article on this blog was about men‘s criteria for choosing a dance partner. I pointed out, that there seems to be a general tendency to select young, good looking women. But I also found, that there was a group young Milongueros, who go rather for dance experience and dance with women of all ages. The article caused strong negative reactions by some men and very affirmative reactions by women.
Now I made some more observations on the topic „Tango & Age“.
One of the great advantages of Tango is, that it does not depend on being athletic or young. Tango is a social dance and people of all age groups can dance it. That‘s great and in my first Tango years, I used to praise the unifying effect of Tango events: young and old people, dancers of different social backgrounds would dance to the same music, visit the same Milongas, be friends, learn from each other... at least in the more „traditional“ Tango communities or Milongas.
And even better: In Tango „old age“ seems to be connected to wisdom and dance skills. Maybe this is only a relic of an archaic model of society with all generations living together, but I like the idea.
It is nevertheless common knowledge, that young(er) dancers cluster in the big cities with universities and at Milongas that tend to be nuevo-ish. Also Tango Marathons do have a relatively young clientele. It is very understandable, that the „young and beautiful“ band together, sharing the same ideas about music, movement and interaction off the dancefloor. But so far, I only connected this phenomenon to the Nuevo environment.
Now I am surprised to find, that a similar process of differentiation seems to be happening in the „traditional“ setting as well.
A couple of months ago, a young Milonguera told me about her experiences at a Tango festival. She obviously did not like it a lot, because most of the dancers were using open embrace and focussing rather on big movements than on social dancing. Also Cabeceo and Mirada were difficult. She had heard about an off-festival Milonga organised by some visiting dancers and decided to check it out. But when she got there, she was disappointed: These people were obviously not very good dancers and they were so OLD! She said that last word with a tone of utter disgust that really shocked me.
I cannot blame her - she wants to be amongst people of her age. But what became of the unifying effect of Tango and respect of old age in Tango? Does that apply only to old Argentine Maestros and „old Milongueros“ in BA?
Since then, I‘ve been consciously watching the Milonguero/Salón scene and noticed, that „young and cool“ events develop all over Europe. Our „Festivalito con Amigos“ is no exception: the average age of this years event was definitely lower than in the last years. And most of the dancers came by personal invitation. Does that mean, that I also start choosing my Tango friends by age? Nah... I don‘t think so. There were still lots of dancers of all generations, embracing each other on the dancefloor. It's just that there were more people overall and the additional ones where younger. :-)
But there is a general tendency amongst the young people in the „traditional“ environment to cluster. You can clearly watch this phenomenon in Buenos Aires, where „young“ Milongas budded in the last years. There are so many dancers in their early 20‘s... They still meet the other generations at the „Sunderland“ or „Cachirulo“, but do many older dancers visit the new Milongas? And are they welcome? I haven‘t been to BA so often in the last years, that I could judge.
Maybe there‘s no reason to worry: A „rejuvenation“ of the Milongas does not have to be a result of the „not-so-young-ones“ being rejected. It might just be due to the fact, that more young people like to dance in close embrace and that‘s good. And if they form their own clubs, that‘s totally normal as well!
But then again, I think of that young woman and wonder: When will I be „too old“ for the young people? Currently, Detlef and I can be described as middle-aged. We are accepted by people of all generations and are invited to dance or teach at the „cool“ Milonguero events. But what about 15 years from now - provided that we still dance and teach Tango? Will we then be respected as „old Maestros“ or merely be „uncool“? Will I be still able to choose my partners amongst men of all ages or will I dance in a senior residence with people of my age group?
Do not misunderstand me: I‘m not fishing for compliments or self-affirmation. A more radical age discrimination may still work out for me: When all my Tango friends are too old to move, we‘ll simply stand and embrace to the music!
But it would be sad for Tango. Would it not?