Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tango Is A Man’s Guide to Women

               Recently I published my latest book A Beginner’s Guide to Women. The title alone is an audacious statement but it is what it has to be. America is in trouble. Our divorce rate is sky high and, if the headlines of today’s popular magazines are any indication, Americans seem to be unable to maintain satisfying, lasting relationships.
               I revealed my book at a party I recently attended. The reaction to the title was remarkably different for males and females. Women were shocked and said so while the men were expressionless. Upon reading a few snippets, the ladies all had something to say about the contents but the men remained chiseled and unresponsive.
               This event was a great help to me because it challenged me to defend what I had written. The beginning of all marketing campaigns for a writer is learning what to say when asked why someone should buy his/her book? My answer is that men need to stop trying to understand women and to start paying more attention to what they are saying with words as well as through body language.
               I have come to the conclusion that women are incredibly complex. I didn’t learn this in school or from a book, I learned this by dancing tango. 
               I have always been awkward around women. After three years of tango I was finally able to embrace a woman and feel certain she wasn't anxiously waiting for the song to end. Talking to other tangueros, I found that three year period was pretty much the norm. Five years is the accepted length of time for a man to finally be able to lead a tango dance successfully. 
               There's a reason for this. A woman needs to feel free while she’s dancing. She also needs to know that you will support her if she stumbles and that you are communicating effectively through your physical points of contact. Acquiring these skills takes a great deal of time and effort. Learning how to fly a plane takes considerably less time.
               Men tend to think of holding a woman the same way they think of holding a football: hold tightly and don’t let anyone rip it from your hands. Newsflash! WOMEN ARE NOT FOOTBALLS.  
               It is my opinion that men try too hard to understand women. Women are doing everything they can just to try and understand themselves; there’s no way that you, a man, is ever going to do that. Tango teaches us that understanding is not necessary, only that we listen to the music and try to move together in harmony.
               So many times have I witnessed a new tanguero writing down everything that is being said during a tango workshop instead of paying attention to every word the instructor is saying. He does this because life has taught him that success in school and at work comes from taking good notes. However, getting along with a woman is not work, nor is it a test: it is an absolute necessity.
               When I talked to the women at the party about my book. I told them that it instructs men to listen and to pay close attention to body language when dealing with a member of the opposite sex. Their responses spoke volumes though they uttered very few words. As soon as I said this, they immediately nodded their heads in approval and turned around to look for their men. This told me that what I was saying was something they felt was absolutely critical to the success of their relationship and that it had to be addressed immediately.
               Dancing tango has taught me not only to read my partner’s body language but to also be aware of the messages I am inadvertently sending through my own physical demeanor. First and foremost is personal hygiene. How you look and smell speaks volumes to a lady. Second, all facial expressions and audible tones are taken by your partner as either insults or compliments and to a higher degree than if you had actually used words to deliver the same message.
               These are all superficial things that you could easily learn from Ann Landers or Dear Abby. What I reveal in my book are the more complicated facets of a woman’s behavior, such as something called slut-shaming or her linear mental process or how much effort is really needed in order to be romantic.
               In today's high-tech, up-to-the-minute journalism, very little attention is being paid to these topics and I am doing something to rectify the situation. It is a risky stance for me to take but I feel it is a stand worth making. I’m certain I’ve made mistakes but that is okay because I know that life is like a tango where there are no mistakes, only attempts at spontaneous choreography to the rhythms of our society. I feel as if American culture is somehow off-balance and I am making an effort to correct that.

               My book is available on Amazon and on Kindle. If you care about this country you live in and the state of affairs in the relationships between men and women, I asked that you forward this post to a place where it can be read by others. Maybe it is a time for us all to take a stand for how we treat each other, to stop over-analyzing why people do things and to begin working for positive results instead of simply increasing the amount of information we’ve gathered. 

Here is a link to my book:

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Tanguera and the Wolf

I saw the wolf last night at the milonga. He shows up every now and then, a man who doesn’t dance tango on the arm of a delightful tanguera. He’s there for her. He’s usually good looking and exudes machismo. He’s been a tall carpenter, a race car driver and a rock climber; whatever his profession, he wears it on his sleeve and it makes him appear very formidable; he’s got that something that women are attracted to; he's a leader of men, capable in a fight and he's got thick, strong thighs that can carry a heavy load.
His hunger was strong, I could tell because I know the feeling. There was something that he craved with a passion but he could not get it unless it was given to him. The object of his desire was sweet like honey but satisfying and sustaining like a tenderloin: a sweet meat.
Whatever it was, he was desperate for it; he was so fraught that he was willing to go to the milonga and sit there while his girlfriend danced with all the other men except him. This was painful but he knew he needed to endure it if he was going to be fed.
I know what you’re thinking: the thing he longed for is sex. Maybe you’re right but not necessarily. I can say with certainty that the thing he longed for was a woman’s to give. It might have been sex but it might also be the simple pleasure of her company when she is in a good mood. It could be food or any of a myriad of treats that only a woman can give to a man. It could be something as simple as a smile or as complex as tantric copulation. Like tango, this is not something he could do by himself. All he knows is that, until she gives it to him, he is incomplete and being unfinished is something that will drive him crazy. It is how men are.
He was on the verge of tears. That’s important to the tangueras who bring these men to the milonga. They feed on this hunger and it is not satisfying unless it is very real. It’s kind of like a compliment: it has to be an honest acknowledgement of an appealing personal trait; if it is real then it is flattering, if it is contrived then it is an insult. His state must be verified in order for it to satisfy her need.
I could see the agony in his eyes as she moved around the room in the arms of all the men who could dance tango. He was in pain but he was also drooling.
These tangueras are always on a journey of discovery. They are perfectionists. I have to wonder what they are thinking. Are they curious? Are they looking for answers to questions in their own lives, trying to heal a wound that can't be healed? Whatever they're thinking, I can say from watching them that they are good at continuing the play until they decide it is the appropriate time for the curtain to fall.
The performance does not end when the crowd is not there. The last scene is acted out in private. No one knows how it really ends except him and her. That’s how it has to be. This is real life. It is like tango where the outcome is never certain and the only thing that can be taken for granted is that the music has to end sooner or later.

           Why women do what they do is difficult for a man to understand but that should not be the goal. For an thorough discussion of this topic, check out my latest book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Guide-Women-perri-iezzoni/dp/1512200212/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431805915&sr=1-4&keywords=a+beginner%27s+guide+to+women 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Putting the Romance into Tango Is Hard Work

               Any man worth a salt can tell you that putting romance into a relationship is hard work. A spaghetti dinner is just another meal until it is accompanied by a red and white checkered table cloth, lit candles and opulent displays of etiquette and chivalry. The presentation of a gift in any romantic endeavor is almost as important as the thought that goes into its selection and acquisition.
               I don’t think all tangueros are aware that this applies to tango as well.
               Romance is man’s work and it is a big part of the illusion in tango. The observer is clueless to the signals being conveyed by the leader to the follower. Learning how to communicate clearly through body language is an arduous task. Acquisition of this skill takes a lot of thought. How this expertise is presented is as important as what went into the educational process.
               Listening is how we gather the necessary information to achieve proficiency. Paying attention to the follower’s balance, mood and performance is imperative. The man leads the movement but he does so with respect to the aforementioned indicators. Stability is realized through practice. A woman’s disposition is influenced by her partner’s hygiene, expression and utterances. The maneuvers attempted should always be within the tanguera’s ability and should never make her appear awkward or unattractive.
               The most difficult part about romance is the fact that we are men: people who started off life as tiny wailing babies peeing all over creation without any control; we then became mischievous little boys who grew into oversized frames in a world full of expectations that we act like men. To our surprise, women are not the little girls we knew as children whom we tortured with insults and physical abuse before subjecting them to the noxious fumes leaching from our bowels. They are something else. Just what that something else is will remain unknown until we acknowledge our ignorance and begin to remedy the situation.
               Tango has a reputation as the world’s most romantic dance. Dancing tango is more of an altered state of consciousness than it is an exercise to the rhythm of the music. It is not so much a dance as it is a goal to be attained. Getting there is hard work and that is how romance makes its way into tango.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Tango Washington DC

I was speaking to a tanguera about tango in Washington, DC, when she blurted out what a horrible time she had there. I tried to stick up for the Capitol City but it was no use; she was unwavering. As I think back on my last seven trips there I have to say that I can see how the tango scene there may have given her nightmares.
It is not easy finding good tango in the nation’s capital. A little bit of research can go a long way towards ensuring a successful dance experience; a cavalier attitude can be devastating. As insurance, I’m adding my two cents in the hopes that it comes up when you google tango Washington DC.
The next time you come to the town that Jefferson built, don’t take any chances. There is only one milonga in this burg that is always reliable. That is the Chevy Chase Ballroom milonga. It is a little unbalanced gender-wise, with too many leaders, but that may be because there are so many talented tangueras here and so much awful tango elsewhere.
People have been coming here for nearly twenty years. There must be a reason for that. These kind of events don’t happen just by coincidence. Somebody is doing something right. Maybe it’s the DJ because the music is always inspiring; maybe it’s the hostess who is friendly and accommodating of beginner leaders like I was the first time I came here four years ago. Who knows what the reason is that this place has such good tango but now you know where to go when you come.
My worst tango experience ever was in Rockville, MD, just outside the Beltway. It was really bad. It was so bad that I had to stay just to see how bad it could get. After thirty minutes of loud salsa music I couldn’t take it anymore and had to leave. It was an expensive lesson; it cost me $35 to find out how painfully bad a milonga could be. It was not really a milonga but the tango community’s webpagehttps://sites.google.com/site/dctangocalendar/, listed it as such.
There were two performances and a short play, all of which were very poorly executed. Before and after the show there was dancing but the after-show dancing was all salsa. The hostess tried in vain to get the DJ to play some tango as people began fleeing after a half hour of unrelentingly Latin melodies. When he was asked to stop, he barricaded himself in his booth and turned the music up louder shouting, “the rhythm is gonna get you!”
A very macabre scene indeed.
The next time you’re considering some tango in Washington, DC, make sure you plan ahead and remember: Chevy Chase Ballroom, the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month is a guaranteed good time. Also, don’t forget the consequences of poor research or you may find yourself having an unforgettable experience that, unfortunately, won’t be so good and may even traumatize you forever like my friend.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Anger, Intimacy and Tango

A woman asked me about my book Fear of Intimacy and the Tango Cure and if I had truly overcome my fear of intimacy. In my response I found myself explaining that the definition of intimacy is different for men and women. Reaching for a better explanation I thought about a time when I tried to be intimate in a relationship. I tried and tried but nothing worked until I finally I got mad and lashed out at her….voila!
This woman had a desire for me to be intimate. I don’t think she knew what that meant but, what I said in anger immediately satisfied her need for intimacy.
People are so complex. 
I have to wonder if this volatile formula isn’t a part of tango’s success.
Men are argumentative by nature. We deplore being alone. That may seem odd unless you consider that Nature is often a man’s only companion and he is usually busy battling against it, sailing the seas, trying to defy gravity. In doing so, he learns that he must move in harmony with Her or risk destruction.
Imagine for a moment that women and Nature are one and the same. A man sticks with tango because he refuses to let it get the best of him. He will not quit. The man in your embrace is trying to outlast you, the music and Nature. He will either fail or succeed. It is this dynamic that women find addicting.
I suspect that women are Nature because they listen to reason. Overhearing a conversation between two ladies, I am surprised at the lack of animosity between them. This does not happen when men talk. From what I hear, I am certain an argument must ensue but none does. One of the women comes to understand the logic of her companion and that is the end of the discussion.
I am not saying women are perfect; they are far from it. So are men. I am not saying that men should act on their anger, only that it is a natural reaction. What I am trying to do is explain the confusing and maddening subtleties of intimacy and how tango brings this out in the dance in such a way that we feel compelled to continue our quest for perfection.
The way I see it is that men and women are like tops spinning. If left alone, we will wobble and fall down. Together, however, with the music playing and both of us trying to attain synchronicity with the other and the music, we achieve a change of state, like ice melting or water boiling, like photosynthesis or a nuclear chain reaction; together we realize our natural abilities.
The two wobbling tops come together and their rotation increases instead of slowing. All of the man’s anger is there but it is neutralized by the woman in his arms. He is at peace and she is satisfied that she is getting what she needs. Something grows, the music ends and the couple parts. This is tango.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tango Women

            This may be one of the most daring blogposts I’ve ever written......or the stupidest. I want to say who I think these women are that dance tango and I know in my heart that it is a mistake to do so. I fear I will piss off so many women that I will lock myself out of the pastime that has gotten me through such a rough patch in my life.
            I am not afraid. 
            I am very afraid. 
            These are words I say to myself often. The first statement is a lie, the second is the truth and it must be spoken. Such is the curse of a writer.
            Tango women are barren professionals looking for meaning in their lives. That is so not true but I needed to say it.
            There are many tangueras I’ve met who have no children and yes, they are professionals: doctors, lawyers, nurses, etc. Of the ones I’ve gotten to know well, they all answered a question I had in my mind but did not have to ask, “How do you feel about not having children?”
            Their responses to the question varied greatly but regret was a consistent theme in their replies. How they dealt with that pang of conscience was unique to each of them. I have to deduce from their musings that they felt some sort of societal pressure to answer that question to their own satisfaction.
            Here is the complete truth: most of the women who dance tango are mothers. They are moms, grandmothers and even great-grandmothers. Many of these ladies are not even professionals; they are cashiers, electricians, welders, waitresses and dog-groomers. In fact, there is no stereotypical woman who dances tango.
            Tangueras cannot all be lumped into one category but I will take a risk and say this: they are all artists. They have something inside they feel compelled to express through movement and tango accommodates that desire.
            It seems to me that dancing tango brings them joy but also a frustration that what they have said through their dance was not quite right. Tango becomes a quest for a satisfaction that eludes them. Their lives become a constant search for the right dance partner, the perfect music, the appropriate setting or who knows what. I certainly don’t, nor do I think that they know either.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Tango Styles

               Hi there, it’s me again, the Kayak Hombre, sending my unsolicited insights into the sophisticated world of Argentine Tango into cyberspace. This week’s topic: tango styles. There are many ways to dance tango and I’d like to point out the ones I’ve seen employed most often.
               By far the most common method practiced is the Wrong Way. It’s very popular and it is the style first acquired by nearly everybody. There is not much to this particular technique but the practitioner must be certain that this dance can be easily mastered in a few months. I was an ardent disciple of the Wrong Way for quite a few years. In fact, I still revert to this mode when I get lazy. I can tell you from experience that it is a lot of fun as long as your partner is drawing from the same pool of knowledge as you, which is a shallow one.
               I probably would have been content dancing tango the Wrong Way if it didn’t conflict so heavily with what I was learning at the many tango workshops I attended. After two years of lessons and near-constant rejection from devotees to other styles, I decided to move on to the New York style.
               This approach takes a lot of effort and it leads to many new and interesting encounters in the world of tango dancing. New York style focuses heavily on performance-type maneuvers such as gancho/wrap sequences or flying leg lifts. Each month there is a new move en vogue and it is difficult to keep abreast of the changes. It takes at least ten days to master the fundamental movements behind the particular flavor of the week. By the time you think you've got it down, a new one comes along and you're back to the balance bar.
               I think tango instructors from Argentina hate the New York style more than anything on the planet. Something about it brings out their sadistic side. When the Argentines are in such a foul mood it can only be satiated with lessons on the back sacada. It is always the women who suffer for the sins of the many.
               The nice thing about New York style is that it made me aware of the necessity of the tango fundamentals: front/back/side-step, pivot, in-place and pause.  Leaving the Big Apple exposed me to the style of tango that I like the most: Tango Salon. It simply means social tango and it is a combination of the tango fundamentals and a strict adherence to the codigos del tango, or the rules of tango for all you  folks out there in the Five-Seven-Oh.
               I spent the next two years trying to find my balance as I danced my way around the country in search of a paycheck to feed my hungry children who were attending college. Tango Salon can be danced in open-embrace or close-embrace. Ideally the dancers move from open-embrace to close-embrace depending upon their maneuvers. This style of tango requires that each partner pays strict attention to the freedom of the other; almost anything is allowed as long as the dancers’ respective stability is maintained.
               There are many codigos del tango and they are extremely important to this particular style if not all styles of tango dancing. It is a vast subject. If you’d like to know more you can Google the term as this is a topic too lengthy to go into here. My last blogpost, The Politics of Tango, dealt entirely with the rules of the dance as viewed by a man at a milonga.
               Five years into my tango education I encountered the BDSM of tango techniques: Milonguero style. BDSM stands for bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism. I use the term in jest but it is a nearly adequate term for how I feel about this particular discipline.
               Milonguero style is 100% close embrace. That is the bondage aspect. My first encounters with women trained in this technique often felt like I was a participant in a Scottish pole-tossing contest; I would carry the lady around the room with her hanging on my neck until the end of the tanda where I would try and toss her into a chair.
               Milonguero style dancers tend to dominate a certain geographic area. I don’t know if this is by chance or design but there should be warning signs on maps indicating that you’ve entered a Milonguero style-only zone and that it, and only it, is truly authentic tango.
               The sadists are the people who keep bringing back the same instructors year after year and the masochists are the students who keep paying them. I guess these people are into pain: taking it and giving it. If New York style is too acrobatic, then Milonguero style is too rigid.  
               The final style I’d like to talk about is the Argentine Tango style.  This is the best one of them all. It encompasses both open and closed-embrace, the codigos del tango and the fundamentals of tango. It is danced to all kinds of music and enjoyed by widest demographic. This style is open to new techniques, movements and ideas and it is constantly changing the way people dance all around the world.