Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Little Machismo Goes A Long Way

               One of the most difficult things leaders have to learn is how to put some machismo into the tango connection. The tiniest amount will do but exuding it without offense is not easy. It is the most important spice in the stew; without it there are no women and without women there is no tango.
                 I do not bring machismo to every tango embrace I enter. It happens naturally and it cannot be faked. There is no substitute for it and it must be made with original ingredients. The hardest part for me was to allow myself to let it show and risk offending my partner. Taking a risk, I learned, is part of the spice’s appeal.
                Machismo is the expression of a person’s inner warrior and it is not solely manufactured by men. It is the fighter inside of us that the follower finds so alluring. 
                I think some ladies have questions inside, subliminal and primal in nature, which they have asked so often since adolescence that they don’t realize they are asking them yet immediately recognize the ‘answer’ once it appears in the form of machismo: Does he hunger for me? What will he do to satisfy his need for me?
               Tango is an attempt at spontaneous movement with a partner but it can be about much more than that; it can be poetry in motion; a physical, spiritual and mental union that occurs because of an unbridled communication between the leader and follower that leaves both participants fulfilled. A question that has been years in the making has found the answer which it sought and, like a child, it can be asked, again and again and again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Tango Doctor: chapter one, page one

           Like the women I’d met dancing the tango, I came to it wounded and in it I found healing and redemption. The road to the cure, however, was a winding, unmarked highway with no speed limits through forbidden territory in the dark of night. That highway had brought me here, parked in the driveway of another man’s home, alone with his wife in my van, a situation that was setting off alarm bells and warning lights in my mind.
Ruth’s hand was halfway to the door handle when the laser light pierced the darkness. A small red dot shone like a poisoned jewel on the married woman's forehead. The spot of light jittered on her skin like a tiny monster invading the shadows of my ride.  
            I should have pushed her out, hit the gas and given up on this foolish quest forever…but I didn’t. Adrenaline coursed through my veins. I couldn’t tell if this was caused by the incredibly thick air of sensuality surrounding us or the thought of a possible confrontation with her spouse.
            So far, no sins had been committed though I sensed that we were on the verge. Innocent as we both were, I’m certain we looked guilty as hell. We suffered from an affection deficit disorder and the remedy, a delicate berry protected by a very thorny bush, was near. But it was not for me to pick; it was for her. She needed to decide if she would reach for it, or for me, or do nothing and continue her life of suffering. I feared she would choose the path of pain; it was a monkey on her back but it was a familiar one that she could bear because she could not yet imagine a life without it.
            Getting mixed up with me would only have added to her burden and I would have rebuffed her even if she did succumb to temptation. Two years into my love affair with tango, I was well acquainted with sexual tension and I knew it was my responsibility to be the one who could say, “No.”
            It was 1 a.m. Her split level house was located in a well-kept subdivision of a small college town. I cut the lights and everything was quiet except for the smooth hum of the engine.  Somehow I knew this was not a real threat and resisted the notion to grab her and throw her to the floor like James Bond would have done in the movies.     
            Instead, I asked, struggling to sound cool, calm and collected, “Ruth, do you know there’s a red light shining onto your forehead?”
            “Yes,” she replied with a weary resignation, “it’s my husband. I can see him in the window. He thinks he’s being funny.” She drew a breath and continued in a wistful, far-off voice, “You’re not really the man driving me to tango…he is.”
            Braving the thorns, she had reached in and picked the tiny but succulent fruit. She needed to put words to her reality instead of living in denial that there was a problem; there was definitely a problem. That’s why she was here with me, that’s why we had just driven sixty miles and back to find a place where tango was danced on a weeknight. The monkey was gone and she breathed a heavy sigh filled with relief and trepidation.

I've been working on this book for a year and this is what I've gotten done so far. I like it but it's going to be a long wait for the rest. If you'd like to read more of me, check out my books available on Amazon and Kindle:

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Cosmic Tango Orchestra

                Some people find it hard to believe that we live in a universe where chaos is the natural order but it is true. The universe is expanding at an ever-increasing rate, something we call entropy, and one day it’s all going to come apart at the seams.
               The world is a confusing place and there are many things we’d like to believe are true that probably aren’t, like people are not inherently good or that men and women can never be just friends. The child in us wants to believe these things but that child also believes in the Easter Bunny.
               This is not a reason for despair. Through restraint of our primal inclinations we discover real pleasure and true love. Men and women are capable of platonic relationships as long as one of them ignores the urge to merge. Unrequited love can be the saddest of stories or the noblest. Admitting to ourselves that we are part of the general cacophony increases the impact of our actions: our sins become that much more evil but our kindnesses shine as bright as stars.    
               Realizing that peace is not the absence of agitation but, rather, the organization of entropy as it proceeds towards its inevitable conclusion, gives us a purpose: we are here to establish rhythm and harmony among the hectic forces playing in the cosmic orchestra.
               Here is the final truth I’d like to impart: you are never going to be a great tango dancer. Tango is not a performance to be graded; it is a state of mind, body and synchronicity to be achieved with your partner.  Dancing tango is beautiful to watch but what is really happening is only revealed to the participants. This is not a spectator sport. It is art for artists and, until you get out on the dance floor, you are never going to know what it is.


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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Tango Think

                Once upon a time I asked a woman how she thought. I told her that I pictured words and sentences in my mind. She replied that she thought in spaces. This sounds strange but it made sense to me; she is an artist and is constantly talking about how light falls on an object or what her perspective should be.
               A big problem for me in learning how to tango was thought management during the dance. I was an absolutely formless piece of clay when I started dancing. Two years of ballroom instruction helped introduce me to the difficulties of being a leader but I was still a long way from performing that role as a tango dancer. I found the tango connection emotionally overwhelming and completely different from the sterile embrace of the ballroom routines.
               Nine years later I notice that my thinking has evolved into something I call tango-think. It used to happen only during the tango embrace but lately it has been creeping into my non-tango life, specifically at work. This week, during what should have been an intensely stressful situation, a guitarist’s rendition of the song Vieni Sul Mar began playing in my head and I felt incredibly peaceful during the entire episode.
               A great frustration of the artist Jackson Pollock was the elimination of the interference between his idea and the canvas. To dance tango leaders and followers must do the same thing: remove the barriers between the melody and the movement. When I am on the dance floor music comes into my ears and is automatically translated into choreography and navigation. It is automatic dancing and I bet Pollock would have benefitted greatly if he’d acquired a vice for tango instead of one of his other addictions.

               Tango-think is a state of mind that resembles meditation except for the fact that you are moving through a crowded room with a partner. Do you see my point? It is like meditation except that it is not. Tango-think is a paradox. I feel compelled to describe tango-think more clearly but I am going to resist that temptation. This is something you must figure out on your own. Make it your frustration. 
              Good luck with this task, young padawan, and tango on.

the Kayak Hombre

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

All Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

               This post is dedicated to all you ladies out there who leave the milonga early. If this is you, then you are probably wondering what goes on when you are gone. Read on and you will know.
               There is a woman out there who is counting on your absence. I see her at most crowded milongas, the Patient Tanguera. She is almost always alone and seemingly unaffected by the amount of time she is spending idle but it is not wasted time. Watching and waiting, she tunes in to the collective emotions of the crowd like an actor standing behind the curtain before it rises.   
               The habits of men are her familiar friends: we like variety and rarely feed on the same flower for the entire night.  She is intuitive about forthcoming cabeceos. Her deportment seems too calm to me, like the eyes of a crocodile protruding the calm surface of the water. I have to wonder if she has an extra sensory gland that is capable of making innate subconscious calculations on who will ask her to dance. Her demeanor is a testament to her predation skills. My mind races for an explanation for she is an enigma; I imagine she is a seduction addict who can ‘smell’ the imbalance in a man’s opiate receptor levels.
               Patience pays off seemingly on cue. The clock strikes eleven and all the Cinderellas rush to get home before their Cadillacs turn into pumpkins and the crows stand beside their eyes. A wave of pheromones blows through the room and suddenly she is sitting in the spotlight.
               For the next hour or so she experiences a series of high-quality tango encounters with mostly skilled leaders. Satiated, she dons her shoes and disappears in the middle of a tanda. She has answered her hunger but it came with a heavy price; there will be hell to pay at work the next day, a day that has probably already begun before she even walks out the door.

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Monday, June 15, 2015


               Rejection is tough to handle, even for me, a man who has been dancing tango for nine years. Men are big babies and I’m no exception. I’d like to offer my thoughts on this as it is a topic of constant concern to both men and women.  
               Once upon a time I shared several enjoyable tandas with a delightful woman. I noticed she’d been sitting for too long when milonga-style music began to play. I invited her to the floor but was rebuffed. She said she never danced milonga-style for some reason that I can’t remember; it doesn’t matter because all I heard was, “no.”
               I haven’t danced with her since.
               On another occasion she approached me to let me know that her refusal was only to milonga-style dances, not vals or tango. I told her politely that I understood but that was a lie. I did not understand and for some reason I lost my desire to dance with her. I’m not sure why this is. When I think about asking her to dance, I feel as if there is a big cliff that I have to climb in order to make the offer and I walk away from it.
               I get rejected a lot and I’ve developed a mechanism for dealing with it. I’m fairly certain I am not the only man doing this. What I do helps suppress the emotional volcano that erupts when we are snubbed by prospective partners. All our lives we learn how to handle slights from our own gender but it is somehow different when the opposite sex delivers the blow. It doesn’t matter if the refusal is a discreet cabeceo or an outright verbal response, a tanguero has to take it like a man, remain calm and be congenial.
               When this happens, I simply tell myself that there is no chemistry there and that I must avoid making the same mistake again. I tried and, for whatever reason, she declined. I recall past encounters when I pushed an offer for absolute clarification and remember that the outcome was never good. Usually the woman reconsidered and subjected herself to a tanda with me but it felt like I was dancing with a corpse.
               After nearly a decade of rejections, I’ve come to accept that 'no' may mean 'no' forever even though she may not be of the same mind. When I see a woman who has turned me down, the thought that pops into my head is “don’t ask her to dance” instead of “maybe she's ready to dance with me now.” In my mind, she is shrouded in a cloud of fog I call anti-desire.
               The process involved in making a dance invitation begins with an incredible phenomenon. It is a tiny spark of desire that originates in a dimension with which we are not familiar so I can’t say what it is. This tiny ember is quite powerful, much like the gravitational force that keeps us close to planet Earth, or the nuclear force that binds protons to neutrons or the reproductive ability of DNA. It may be ethereal in nature, existing somewhere on the macroscopic level out there in the cosmos or at the molecular level as a quantum object. Maybe it’s a spiritual thing. Whatever it is, I can say with certainty that it is remarkable and wondrous. It is like a flower, delicate and powerful in its ability to attract, an integral part of creation. 
               Rejection is a power almost as subtle and equally supreme. It is a chemical with cosmic/quantum properties that inhibits the ignition factor responsible for the formation of a desire to dance with someone.

               A constant topic of conversations with tangueras is about who won’t dance with them and why that is so. Men are such a mystery to women but we are also a mystery to ourselves. Rejection is a necessary component of the tango experience. We have to know what it feels like to be cold to appreciate the heat. So it is with being refused, each time we are rebuffed increases the amount of pleasure we receive when we are finally accepted into the embrace of another dancer.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tim Hunt Needs a Tango Lesson

               I just got through reading about Tim Hunt’s ridiculous statement before the World Conference of ScienceJournalists in South Korea. Nine years into my tango education and I can see much more clearly why the opposite sex has taken such a huge offense at his words and the degree to which his ego has skewed his view of himself.
               "Let me tell you about my trouble with girls,” he said. “Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and, when you criticize them, they cry.”
               Tim, I think my tango experience would be a huge benefit to you and I strongly recommend that you buy my latest book, A Beginner’s Guide To Women and read my recent blogpost, Tango, Chickens and Cars. The book is available on Amazon and the blogpost is absolutely free! I know you’re going to positively love what I wrote because I have such a high opinion of myself:-D
               Seriously, Tim, let’s look at where you went wrong and why you made a joke that elicited a silence so deafening that it would make crickets jealous.
               First, I’m fairly certain women don't need you to tell them what your problems are. That first sentence in your comedy routine presumes that they didn’t know the second you took a breath to speak.
               Then you presented your jest in the form of a list so short and simple that a child could understand it…..maybe even a woman… working in a lab, possibly?
               The first item on your list states that you fall in love with them. Your mistake here is in categorizing this as a trouble and I highly suspect that women don’t view this as a problem, merely the means by which they rule the world, a job for which they receive little credit.
               Fourthly, you assume that these female scientists are falling in love with you which is definitely a sign, no, a billboard as big as a constellation, that your ego is a runaway train heading straight for the mirror where you probably devote a large portion of your time.
               Last but not least, you indicate that your fear of their tears inhibits your ability to criticize women effectively and that this is a reason for their exclusion from the places of men. This is just the kind of thing they’ve been working against since the beginning of time so your faux pas is a mistake of historic proportions spanning eons.
               Thanks, Tim, for being the poster child to advertise the need for my book. You are truly a basket case and I offer my services for free, nay, as payment, for a job well done. Just let me know where to send my guide and it will be in the mail.

The Kayak Hombre

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