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Party Manners
how to host a milonga and how to behave to people "sitting" a lot

Cherie Magnus
Cammie Strange
Lynn Underwood
Melinda Bates
Renaldo (Ron) Leon
Charles Roques
Frank G. Williams
Peter Niebert
Manuel
Cherie Magnus
Carol Shepherd
Nitin Kibe
Lois Donnay
Brook Tankle
America Mauhar
Matthias Koller
Naomi Bennett


Date:    Mon, 20 Dec 1999 23:42:15 EST
From:    Cherie Magnus
Subject: Party Manners

Hola, List!

It's that time of the year--Party Time!
I've attended many milongas in various world cities (New York, Los Angeles,
Miami, San Francisco, Reno, Santa Fe, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires) in the last
eighteen months, and I've come away with some personal observations on
promoting and milonga-throwing.

I know it isn't easy to put on a big dance, and that you can't please
everybody, but sometimes just a little effort on a few simple things can make
all the difference in whether someone comes back or not.

First of all, if you are the host (or hostess) of a dance, you should act
like it. In other words, take responsibility for your guests having a good
time, as if the party were in your home. This has been the case at several
milongas I've attended (even in Buenos Aires), and it sure made all the
difference to the kind of evening I had. I remember many warm hosts and
hostesses, who did their best to help everyone feel welcome and to have a
good time. They talked, introduced, mixed, danced with as many people as
possible--and yes, sometimes still oversaw the music, too.

This past weekend I attended a special milonga in another state. I didn't
know anyone, and the promoters knew that and that I was coming alone from
afar. It was a small event--about 40 people. Did the host or hostess
introduce me to a single person? Did they encourage mixing or facilitate
people moving between tables and dancing with others? Did they make any
welcome announcements or point out attendees from out of town? Did the host
even ask me to dance?

What do you think?

These small details would have made all the difference in the ambiance of the
event. Providing food and music is not enough. You need to create a warm
atmosphere where people can have the most fun possible--and so that they will
want to return. This is to everyone's benefit. Eric of Nijmegen, Holland,
takes the time to plan little mixer games--find the person of the opposite
sex with a pin matching the one you got when you arrived; find the person who
can answer a certain riddle, whatever. Maybe it seems silly, but it works.
Even for a foreign out-of-towner who didn't know a soul, like me.

Also, if you host a regular milonga, and you have faithful supporters who
come every week no matter what for months, if they stop coming it might be
beneficial to give them a jingle to find out why. It could be something that
could be easily changed or fixed or explained, and future drop-aways could be
prevented. Might make the milonga even better as well. Communication and
feedback are always helpful. I've noticed a huge change-over of dancers at
our local weekly milongas, and I wonder what's happened to all those regulars
who have disappeared.

How do the rest of you feel about this? What have your experiences been at
milongas outside of your home town?

Feliz Navidad, and a Millennium of fabulous tangos to all!

Cherie Magnus
Los Angeles

http://www.viveladifference.com
top of page
Date:    Sun, 2 Jan 2000 21:39:27 -0800
From:    Cammie Strange
Subject: More on Party Manners

Cherie, Hi.  I have traveled little outside of Colorado for tango except
for attending tango weeks or going to BA or Montreal, which are exceptions.
I did go to Sante Fe for a long weekend in September of 98 and was a little
disappointed.  The Friday night milonga at the studio was very small that
night (about 10 people) and everyone was very friendly and I had a good
time.  The next night was a huge "Milonga Under the Stars" where I did not
get asked to dance much.

In general, I think visitors here in Colorado find it extremely friendly and
welcoming.  I have gotten a lot of positive feedback.  However, we have
done very little in the way of formally introducing visitors; it is done
much
more on an individual basis.  I am always trying to introduce new people
and visitors to others and generally this works well.  However, a good
friend of mine was visiting NYC recently and told me of some more
formal arrangements, which I think we should consider trying, like things
you mentioned.  At our weekly practices, we often welcome out of town
visitors during the announcements.

Cammie.

P.S.  I think your thoughts on this topic are very valuable and hope they
will cause some good!

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Date:    Sun, 2 Jan 2000 19:24:09 -0500
From:    Lynn Underwood
Subject: Re: Party Manners

Thank you Cherie for your right-on-target comments about the role of a
milonga
host/hostess. I've had the same experience in cities where I was a stranger.
And then there are the big-city milongas where there is no real host at all,
just a behind-the-scenes organizer. In BA, I like the smaller milongas where
"Juan invita" or "Carlos y Ariadne inviten" -- and they actually greet you
at the door! They act more interested in assuring your enjoyment than in
taking your money! What a concept!

But as long as we are at it, how about the responsibilities of the "faithful
supporters" you wrote about, "who come every week". Their behavior can help
make the difference between a warm and friendly party and an ice palace.
Anyone who's there every week knows who's new and who could best partner the
unknown newcomer. They can help the busy host assure that the newcomer gets
gently showcased -- more important than introductions at a milonga. And they
can discreetly intervene before the local Gancho King gets his hands on an
unsuspecting novice.

Unfortunately, the idea of a milonga being a party seems to be lost on some.
At a party, most people -- at least those with any social skills at all --
are committed to helping make sure everyone has a good time. It's something
you have to work at. You don't spend the evening chatting up the one person
you find most interesting; you "work the room", you extend yourself. Some
conversations are more rewarding than others, but by sharing the
responsibility, everyone benefits: the rewards are spread around, nobody
gets stuck with a dud, nobody gets left out.

People are initially attracted to tango by the music and the dance, but the
decision to take up tango is, de facto, a decision to join a community. A
warm and welcoming community will attract warm and sociable people. One that
is cold and unfriendly will become a refuge for social misfits and takers.
Some of them may be skillful dancers, but few will be people you care to be
around.

I hope your message is heard and made a theme in the tango community. If the
mores you describe continue to be accepted as the norm, we will all
suffer -- and tango will never be more than an exotic little niche for the
obsessed.

Happy new year,
Lynn Underwood (NYC)
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Date:    Tue, 4 Jan 2000 19:37:08 -0500
From:    Melinda Bates
Subject: Re: Party Manners


Cherie and Lynn wrote wonderful messages about the manners we should all
show at a milonga.  I have been told that in country dancing in the US, ALL
the men are expected to dance at least once with each woman, so that no one
sits alone all evening.  If a man forgets, the other men will remind him of
his obligation.
What a kind and welcoming habit.  I think tango is not like that because so
often dancers believe they are "above" dancing with beginners or new
comers - who may actually be accomplished dancers.

I have been blessed to almost always have a regular tango partner.  When I
see other ladies sitting alone, I know I would not like that.  So I always
encourage "my" guy to ask these ladies to dance.  It only seems fair.  When
we were in Paris and London last year, almost no one spoke to us.  We were
clearly outsiders, and no one made any effort to welcome us.  As Lynn said,
they were happy to take our money, but that was the end of it.  I was so
glad I was not alone!

Thanks, ladies, for the reminder to create a kinder, gentler tango
community.
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Date:    Wed, 5 Jan 2000 11:31:50 -0800
From:    "Renaldo \"Ron\" Leon"
Subject: Re: Party Manners


Hola List,

Melinda's thoughts, comments and ideas are well taken.  However,  I personally
think that the responsibility to make a Milonga a "good time" lies within each
and every one of us, regardless of the gender.  While I realize that my
thoughts on this subject may raise some potentially negative feedback or stir
up some interesting and well accepted constructive criticism,  I do hope that
it is taken in the gentle and constructive way that it was intended :-)

Personally, I do not feel that it is a man's responsibility to "have to" dance
with "every" woman at a milonga  or  "ask" every woman at a milonga to dance.
Perhaps it is the responsibility of the host(s) because of their promoting or
sponsorship of their milonga, but I do not think that an "attending" tanguero
should have to feel "obligated" to dance with each and every woman or feel like
less of a "gentleman" because he does not ask each and every woman to dance.

While I agree that the Tango is a "community" and I certainly enjoy the
community that AT brings to my life and all the closeness that there is in AT,
at the same time, I do not feel that it is "my" responsibility or obligation
to  make sure that others  have a good time at the expense of my own good
time.  I think that we are all personally mature enough and adult enough to be
responsible for our own personal good time.  If I happen to meet by chance or
exchange pleasantries over the punch bowl with someone and have the opportunity
to introduce myself or ask them to dance (which I will do) then it is "my
choice".  At the same time,  many times I feel for many of the ladies whom are
either standing a great deal or sitting during many dances due to the higher
percentages of women to men.

At any given Milonga (usually 4-5 times a week) I usually dance with at least
10-15 different ladies in an evening.  Of course there maybe at least 3-5 of
those whom are regular "favorites" of mine whom I will dance between 5-8 dances
with in any given evening.  When you add up the numbers, that can be 25-40
individual dances in an evening.   Not being in the best of shape, I find it
difficult to dance more than that in any of the 4-5 nights a week.

Recently, during a "Tango At Sea" cruise in the Caribbean, this same type of
issue came up at a "clearing the air" meeting amongst several members of the
cruise and many of the ladies felt that the men should "ask" more ladies to
dance because of the many whom were not dancing much at the nightly milongas
each night.   I responded to them by saying that  personally, I didn't feel
that it was my responsibility to have to ask "each" and everyone of these
ladies to dance and be responsible for them having a good time. I also
mentioned that "they" can very well ask the men to dance, especially in this
day and age and the "90's" style of gender liberation (maybe not the right
choice of words).  I further mentioned that I never refuse a ladies invitation
to dance and that because of the imbalance of numbers of women to men
(approximately 55-45%)  it was not my obligation or responsibility to make sure
each and every woman has a good time.  This was each and every one of our "own"
choice or responsibility to make our time one that is enjoyable or fun.

The response from some of them was "we do not feel comfortable with asking a
man to dance"  or it shouldn't have to be that way.  Well this is not the
1940's or '50's  but the 90's which is what has cause a great many former
"chivalrous" gentlemen to be left confused with what is the acceptable or
proper way to treat a lady ( "Damned if we do and damned if we don't").

I personally have chosen to always continue to be a gentleman while allowing
"todays" woman to be whomever she chooses.  Not "expecting" anything from a
woman except the respect of treating me like a respectful human being has
allowed me to be responsible for my "own" good time and not expect "others" to
control or make my "time" good or bad, but to realize that my own time is a
matter of "choice" that I have control over.

I think that the "choice" that women choose during a milonga to take a
"risk"(?) and either "ask" someone to dance or go a little bit against some of
the tradition that we have been taught will allow for a better time at milongas
and not be so dependent on others to dictate whether or not we have a "good"
time  or not so good time.  It is a responsibility that we "own" and have a
choice to make it whatever it "is".

Whenever possible, I do seek out someone whom I have seen many times and
possibly never danced with, and I will make a point to ask for a dance and get
to know them a little bit.   Sometimes it is kind of like the saying "so many
women and so little time" ;-) and it is difficult to have the opportunity to
meet each and every one at the Milongas, however, this subject has allowed me
to rethink and open up my own attitudes and awareness for the subject and
through that I believe it has helped me look at it in a different light.

This is what makes forums like these so great!

Sorry for the lengthy posting and I hope it is taken in the manner that it was
intended.

Happy Tangoing,


Renaldo Leon  from SF Bay Area
top of page
Date:    Wed, 5 Jan 2000 16:52:06 EST
From:    Charles Roques
Subject: Party Manners etc.


Greetings,
There seem to be slightly divergent threads to the discussion about manners,
courtesy, etc at the milongas. I think the issue of feeling welcome at a
milonga is partly the responsiblity of the hosts. It is a nice gesture to
welcome out-of-towners and smart as well. Attendants are customers as well as
guests and help support the milongas. They needn't be singled out or
introduced, but acknowledged. It is not always so easy if there are many
people at a milonga like the ones we have in New York but at smaller ones it
is easy to do. It usually prompts the other people to ask them to dance. It's
not much fun to pay and sit all night watching others dance.

The other thread concerning etiquette about asking many people to dance is a
little more delicate and is not always so simple. I often observe women,
especially new faces to ascertain how well they dance before I ask them. I
admit that as a single male I will sometimes ask partners to dance because I
find them attractive but if they can't really dance I don't spend too much
time on the floor with them. But another factor to consider that has not been
really mentioned is the skill factor. As I become better I want to dance with
the best dancers I can. As I tell a partner who is always chiding me because
I won't dance more with her,  "I have to practice too". I often dance with
beginners and think it is important for me as a teacher to do that but it can
be work. But speaking as an individual I also tend to return to women when I
feel them improving. Sometimes I want to dance with someone that is good
because I don't want to think about which steps I can or cannot do.  Being a
good dancer is not just about being advanced. There are some women whose
style of dancing I don't like so I tend to not ask them. In some parts of the
country (or world) where smaller tango communities exist people may dance in
a similar manner but in places like here one will see more diverse styles.
And there is always that inexplicable factor of chemistry. I just don't enjoy
dancing with some people as much as others.

The milongas here in New York can be crowded and at times I won't even get
around to  my favorite partners. Sometimes the timing is off and one is
seated while the other dances and vice versa. I dance at least three dances
unless the person is really awful and that doesn't always leave much time to
get to everybody some nights. I don't think people should change partners
every dance. Doing a set of dances is much nicer and gives the dancers time
to bond and communicate with Terpsichore :-)

Cheers,
Charles
top of page
Date:    Wed, 5 Jan 2000 19:49:20 -0600
From:    "Frank G. Williams"
Subject: Re: Party Manners etc.


Greetings all!

Charles makes a very good point:
> But another factor to consider that has not been
> really mentioned is the skill factor.
snip...
> But speaking as an individual I also tend to return to women when I
> feel them improving.

I have very much enjoyed dances made up mostly of salidas when the
beginning follower is at least able to execute without struggling.
It's not so hard to enjoy a nice connection with beginners.  In those
dances with a simple structure, there also remains much for the
experienced partner to practice.  How many of us dance anything
perfectly?  [Those who think they do might ask for a second opinion! ;-) ]

Yet, I don't have very much patience for long-time beginners who
never improve for lack of practice.  When there's no "connection",
both dancers are better off with somebody else.  I always try to make
new people feel welcome, I always accept dances with followers who ask,
I try to remember who I've missed so I can get to them the next evening.
But, honestly, how can one expect good "chemistry" with a partner who
ignores their skill yet feels that others are OBLIGED to invite
them?  Good dances are lead from the heart and are highly personal.
Every tango is different and there is no single formula for a
beautiful dance.  However, it's always a pleasure to feel that, since
the last time, a particular dancer has really improved.

Best regards,

Frank in Minneapolis
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Date:    Thu, 6 Jan 2000 13:55:51 +0100
From:    Peter Niebert
Subject: Party Manners


"Renaldo \"Ron\" Leon" writes:
  > Personally, I do not feel that it is a man's responsibility to "have to" dance
  > with "every" woman at a milonga  or  "ask" every woman at a milonga to dance.
  > Perhaps it is the responsibility of the host(s) because of their promoting or
  > sponsorship of their milonga, but I do not think that an "attending" tanguero
  > should have to feel "obligated" to dance with each and every woman or feel like
  > less of a "gentleman" because he does not ask each and every woman to dance.

I could not agree more. Obligation takes all the power out of the
encounter.

In George Orwell's 1984, the totalitarian system of Oceania obliges
married couples to make love (and there are cameras to check): "Our
duty to the party". Cleverly, because this way all subversive elements
of sexual relationships of men and women are eliminated by duty. What
a sad activity.

So is it: "Our duty to the Tango community?" Enough said.

I am not categorical, though. I think, that one *should* invite out of
courtesy and respect. And we cannot ignore that Tango takes place in a
social context and - in public. So sometimes there are situations
where - say - education rather than hedonism influences the choice
who I dance with.

Still. I have found myselves several times in situations where a woman
expressed in one way or another that she believes to have a *right* to
dance with me, even though at the same time she believes that I do not
eagerly want to.  Speaking of manners, this is for me a severe sign of
disrespect.

No, I think the only way to dance is that both agree to do so. This
implies for both the right to refuse without losing face.

Tango is nice when it happens. You cannot force it! And there is no
right on happiness on this planet either.

Melinda, it is a fact of current social reality that there are more
women than men and - in addition - some women are invited all the time
while other sit all evening. This reality cannot be changed by
imposing a social code. The women who do not get what they need, they
drop out. Same for the men.  This is a fact.

I wish you many intimate Tangos, in which you can forget the social
context for a moment or two!

Peter de Grenoble, France

PS: What Cherry was talking about, again, was another subject. I too
have danced in many different places. Sometimes I was frustrated,
sometimes I was astonished by the hospitality. For example a few years
ago in Aarhus, Denmark, where the organiser Gunnar Svendson found a
partner for me and additionally held a class in English so that I
could follow, even though some people in the class had slight problems
with English.

top of page
Date:    Thu, 6 Jan 2000 10:21:01 -0000
From:    white95r
Subject: Re: Party Manners etc.


When attending a "strange" new place it is always going to be more difficult
to make friends and connections unless one already has a friend or a
friendly host or other who is willing to become a "bridge" and introduce the
"stranger" to the "locals". I think it is unreasonable to expect to be
accepted and immediately taken in by a group of strangers. I've always
noticed this phenomenom when going to "any" type of new or strange place
whether it is a disco in Atlanta or a milonga in Bs As or anywhere else
where I dont know people. The fact is that it takes time and multiple visits
to get accepted into any group.

On the other hand, in the local milongas that we host, we go to great
lengths to welcome new people and try to attract them to our community to
make the tango group grow. Also, most times, any visitor who comes to our
milongas has already made contact with us (that is how they found us) so
they are our "invited guests" and as such they get all the attention we can
give them.

The "guest" also has certain obligations and must have adequate social
skills. It is not fair to expect others to do all the "work" for us. If I
want to mingle and "fit in", I try to make friends and contacts when I'm
among strangers, and unless they are completely without manners I usually
make contacts and that makes a lot of difference.

On the topic of dancing with "all the women", I find it impossible to do.
There is only so much time in the evening and I do not believe it is my
responsability to to this anyway. It is interesting that some women who
always ask me to dance and expect me to dance with them are the ones who
never come to class or practice. Obviously, these are the people who are the
least fun to dance with. OTOH, the ones who I most often see in class or
practica or at milongas, etc. are the ones who are most fun to dance with
and I want to dance with them.

I believe that if you want to be asked to dance a lot, you must become a
good dancer. Take classes, attend practicas and go to every dance
opportunity you can find. This applies to women and men as well. Also, if
you want to be approached and accepted you have to be approachable and
friendly. It takes a lot of social skills and work to become part of a
group. Most people struggle with these issues in all facets of their lives.
Tango venues are just like any other type of place and just like a
neighborhood tavern, one has to work at getting in the "in" group. I believe
that is totally unreasonable to expect everybody else to automatically
accept us all and welcome us with open arms when we are total strangers and
unknown to them. That is just how life is. Just because we dance tango it
does not change anything. I say, get a grip, check out the world at large
and be realistic. Go to clubs and discos, it does not matter whether you go
to a Salsa or Swing club or a CW bar, the same rules apply. Why expect Tango
to be different?

Of course, anyone who visits Atlanta will be made to feel welcome at any
milonga where I am. Please contact me before you come if possible and I'll
be happy to tell you all the tango opportunities available and will do my
best to make you feel welcome by the tango community in Atlanta.

Manuel
top of page
Date:    Thu, 6 Jan 2000 11:27:07 EST
From:    Cherie Magnus
Subject: re Party Manners


Hi everyone,

I'd just like to say to Manuel and others, that I was not referring to any of
the attendees at the out-of-town milongas in my complaints of inhospitality.

I was simply wishing for hospitality from the host/hostess in introducing me
to others and perhaps even inviting me to dance once. I know it's possible,
because it has happened many times, and has made all the difference to me.

I'm just calling for a little more from the promoters than the providing of
space and refreshment, music, and the pocketing of money--especially with
out-of-town guests. Sociability, warmth (even if faked), common
courtesy--otherwise why are they in the business of tango?

Cherie
Los Angeles

http://www.viveladifference.com
 ---------

Hi Listees,

Just for the record, I don't give *mercy dances* nor do I wish them given to
me, EXCEPT for milonga hosts, and teachers I may be studying with or have
taken lessons with in the past.

The very idea of a man inviting me to dance for any reason other than our
mutual pleasure makes me want to take up chess.

Cherie
Los Angeles
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Date:    Thu, 6 Jan 2000 14:38:45 +0000
From:    Carol Shepherd
Subject: Re: Party Manners


One of the reasons I like tango so much is that it's different.  I like
milongas, to me they are different, more "party" than the typical "dance
parties" held by dance studios.  At our milongas in Detroit everyone is
chatty and gracious and there to socialize and watch as much as just to
dance.  To me, a milonga is always being hosted by someone, and that
host or hosts does have a responsibility to play a host's role, ie be
hospitable to new and returning guests, even if I'm paying an admission
charge to attend.  If I'm a new face, I expect to be greeted and
introduced to a couple of people, and I expect polite interest (feigned
or real :) to be shown in me as a new acquaintance.  I don't expect to
be asked to dance by a host of the appropriate gender, but I think this
is very very nice--because at a dance party, the only way a new dancer
will mesh into a group is to let them show off their level on the dance floor.

I understand that organizing and hosting involves work (I throw a lot of
parties myself!) and some people do it reluctantly only so they will
have a place to dance.  But, some people love it, it's a happy thing
when the people who have that knack are willing to do it for everyone else!
--
Carol Ruth Shepherd
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Date:    Thu, 6 Jan 2000 15:13:04 -0500
From:    Nitin Kibe
Subject: Re: Party Manners


This is a somewhat delicate issue, but let me try an angle not yet mentioned by
anyone else.

Perhaps a milonga is somewhere between a straightforward "private" social event
(specific known people are invited, typically to a home, hospitality is
provided, no money changes hands) and a completely open public event (a film
show, theatre, all welcome as long as they can pay and basic rules of behaviour,
etc observed).

Unlike the former, in a milonga, people may not know each other or even the host
in any substantive personal or professional sense (last names, occupations,
backgrounds, etc) and may not feel obliged to ensure that everyone has a good
time.  While some may have met before and will meet again, out of choice or
circumstance, others may never see each other again.

Unlike the latter, a milonga is not just the passive consumption of packaged
entertainment: a degree of interaction is possible, often between strangers, at
fairly close quarters.  Therein lies the pleasure and the peril, the risk and
the reward.

Perhaps part of the problem is that the language, assumptions and practices of
private social entertaining are used in a different situation, where different
"rules" apply.

Now that I have got the theory off my chest, I quite agree with some of the
points others have made: it certainly doesn't hurt if the host (sic) goes out of
his way to make a guest (sic) feel welcome.  Nor if a guest makes an effort to
allocate at least some of his time to other guests, beginners or newcomers in
particular.  All in a spirit of good humour, goodwill and generosity.

If little else, remember, there could be a milonga at which you are the
newcomer, you don't even know the language and the gender balance is not in your
favour...

Good wishes to all.

Nitin Kibe
(A newcomer at milongas in London, Geneva, Lausanne, Bs As, Rio de Janeiro...and
the better off for it)
top of page
Date:    Thu, 6 Jan 2000 14:56:58 -0600
From:    Lois Donnay
Subject: Re: Party Manners


Cherie wrote:

 > I'm just calling for a little more from the promoters than
 > the providing of space and refreshment, music, and the pocketing of
 > money--especially with
 > out-of-town guests. Sociability, warmth (even if faked), common
 > courtesy--otherwise why are they in the business of tango?

As a tango event organizer, (and especially after coming down from
particularly stressful New Year's Eve arrangements) I'd like to put in
a word of defense for the "promoters".

Of course we on the board of the Tango Society of MN work very hard to
make newcomers welcome. I try to dance with every new face I see, plus
get in a dance with my friends.  But some events don't go so smoothly,
and my attentions are diverted - gate, temperature, music,
refreshment, trash problems, etc. take my time from the dance floor.
When the toilet paper runs out, people come to me. Plus people want to
talk to me, and I need to talk to people about a variety of
Society-related issues.

On the subject of the "pocketing" of money - I'm sure (I hope) that
there are people out there who are making decent money hosting
milongas.  That's the way these dances will continue.  But  attendees
often don't realize the hidden costs involved.  Publicity can include
brochures, newsletters and hotlines, and certainly time.  Ballroom
rental, music, DJ's, gate help, insurance, music system, teachers,
decorating, cleanup, refreshments, all have associated costs.  For
private milongas, there's a financial risk - what if the weather's bad
and no one comes?

Anyway, I'd like to thank all of the volunteers who help out at our
events so that we can keep costs down, and apologize to those I've
neglected.  And I'm grateful for our local tango scene, where many
times the men outnumber the women!

Lois Donnay, President
Tango Society of Minnesota
www.mntango.org
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Date:    Thu, 6 Jan 2000 18:07:35 EST
From:    for Brook Tankle
Subject: other party manners


I have been wanting to bring up this issue for some time now and  I think it
is appropriate now re: manners. There have been a number of occasions that I
have been chatting with a man, either someone I know or someone I am just
getting to know, when a women will approach and ask the man to dance. I think
this is highly rude. Many times the conversation leads to an invitation to
dance and I am in "pre-dance ritual". I have been in the Tango community for
about 7 years and remember the overwhelming urge to dance every dance and run
around looking for a partner. I can appreciate the enthuiasm, but as I have
matured I have come to appreciate the subtle dynamics of coming to the dance,
the eye contact and flirtation that brings one to the embrace. I am not
strongly against women asking men to dance, and I am still guilty of the same
when a particular Tango moves me, but the way it is done can make a
difference because the dance can start before you step onto the dance floor.
My theory is that as long as women blatantly walk up to men to ask for a
dance, especially the better dancers, the men become less ambitious to seek
out partners since all they have to do is stand around and someone will
approach them. This could explain, as my women friends have commented, why we
see so many men just standing around like they're waiting for something to
happen...
    I would like to ask both men and women to be sensitive to others in
conversation because you really don't know what you are interrupting.
    What do you think?
Ciao, Brook

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Date:    Thu, 6 Jan 2000 18:45:22 -0800
From:    America Mauhar
Subject: Re: Party Manners


 >Cherie wrote:

 >I was simply wishing for hospitality from the host/hostess in introducing me
 >to others and perhaps even inviting me to dance once. I know it's possible,
 >because it has happened many times, and has made all the difference to me.
 >
 >I'm just calling for a little more from the promoters than the providing of
 >space and refreshment, music, and the pocketing of money--especially with
 >out-of-town guests. Sociability, warmth (even if faked), common
 >courtesy--otherwise why are they in the business of tango?


Perhaps the big tango communities like New York or San Fransisco feel
secure enough in the size of their milongas to not care if new faces
return.  But here in the hinterlands where tango is still only a small
community and  our fates are subject to the whims of bar owners and DJs,
rest assured, new faces are welcomed, introduced and frequently spend more
time dancing than regulars.  Every one of our tangueros knows that if we
are not inclusive to newcomers then we are in danger of losing the places
that we dance, so we all try to do our part to include everyone-regardless
of level. In fact a couple who wandered into the bar where I tango, looking
for swing dancing, found themselves tangoing with two of our more
experienced dancers and ended up picking up enough so that they could enjoy
the night quite a bit.  When all of us give just one or two dances then
everyone has a better time.

So if you are a stranger looking for a warm reception, perhaps you should
try a smaller milonga where you will not get lost in the crowd and we will
not take you for granted.  You are not just another five or ten dollars
here, in fact you may be the deciding factor in the venue owner NOT
deciding to change to a salsa format for the next week!

And if you are going to be in a city for a couple of milongas, starting at
a small one can introduce you to many of the dancers that you will see
again at the larger ones.


America Mauhar
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Date:    Thu, 6 Jan 2000 19:01:30 +0100
From:    Matthias Koller
Subject: Re: Party manners


Dear All,

I enjoyed a lot the ongoing discussion of aspects of party manners and
social behaviour on milongas and I want to thank your for your interesting
contributions. It made me reflecting my own behaviour and lead my to some
interesting conversations here in Berlin. I would like to add some coments
hoping that you understand and forgive me my bad English.


Cherie wrote:
......
 >First of all, if you are the host (or hostess) of a dance, you should act
 >like it. In other words, take responsibility for your guests having a good
 >time, as if the party were in your home. This has been the case at several
 >milongas I've attended (even in Buenos Aires), and it sure made all the
 >difference to the kind of evening I had. I remember many warm hosts and
 >hostesses, who did their best to help everyone feel welcome and to have a
 >good time. ....

Lynn wrote:
....
 >But as long as we are at it, how about the responsibilities of the "faithful
 >supporters" you wrote about, "who come every week". Their behavior can help
 >make the difference between a warm and friendly party and an ice palace.
 >Anyone who's there every week knows who's new and who could best partner the
 >unknown newcomer. They can help the busy host assure that the newcomer gets
 >gently showcased -- more important than introductions at a milonga. ...


I agree that it is very important to try to integrate foreigners and
newcomers in the local milongas. The problem is that in bigger places it is
just impossible to know who is who. Here in Berlin we have milonagas every
night, often two or three parallel, some with 200 and more people. I go to
the milongas for about two years two or three days a week, but up to the
present day, I don't know more than 20-40%, especially when the place is
crowded. I'm sure that even a "very attentive" host (which unfortunatedly
we don't have here) or "every week comer" couldn't identify who is from
outside and who is not.

Cherie wrote:
.....
 >Eric of Nijmegen, Holland, takes the time to plan little mixer games--find
 >the person of the opposite
 >sex with a pin matching the one you got when you arrived; find the person who
 >can answer a certain riddle, whatever. Maybe it seems silly, but it works.

And what about to use the Tango-A list (or something similiar) to get in
contact in with local people before arriving? I'll be happy to guide you
(the list members) through the milongas and introduce you to nice and
friendly people, when you come to Berlin.


Lynn wrote:
....
 >Unfortunately, the idea of a milonga being a party seems to be lost on some.
 >At a party, most people -- at least those with any social skills at all --
 >are committed to helping make sure everyone has a good time. It's something
 >you have to work at. You don't spend the evening chatting up the one person
 >you find most interesting; you "work the room", you extend yourself. Some
 >conversations are more rewarding than others, but by sharing the
 >responsibility, everyone benefits: the rewards are spread around, nobody
 >gets stuck with a dud, nobody gets left out.

Lynn, I doubt if there is common understanding or consensus on what a
Milonga or what a party is or should be, at least in bigger tango
communities. There we have such an variety of personalities, emotional,
intellectual and physical needs and wants that it is really hard to define
a common denominator except the tango itsself. Also my own needs are
changing. Sometimes I`m tired and lazy, sometimes adventorous and full of
energy, sometimes I'm shy or I want to dance and speak just with one or two
friends, sometimes I like to embrace the whole world. Generally I prefer
rules as little as necessary  (it is leisure time, isn't it?). When I have
a good and exciting conversation, why should I give it up for a superficial
small talk with somebody else? (The same applies for dancing). I don't like
the idea  that somebody talks or dances with me just to give me a nice
party feeling neither.

Melinda wrote:
.....
 >I have been told that in country dancing in the US, ALL
 >the men are expected to dance at least once with each woman, so that no one
 >sits alone all evening.  If a man forgets, the other men will remind him of
 >his obligation.
....
 >When I see other ladies sitting alone, I know I would not like that.  So I
always
 >encourage "my" guy to ask these ladies to dance.  It only seems fair.  When
 >we were in Paris and London last year, almost no one spoke to us.  We were
 >clearly outsiders, and no one made any effort to welcome us.

Renaldo wrote:
....
 >Personally, I do not feel that it is a man's responsibility to "have to" dance
 >with "every" woman at a milonga  or  "ask" every woman at a milonga to dance.
 >Perhaps it is the responsibility of the host(s) because of their promoting or
 >sponsorship of their milonga, but I do not think that an "attending" tanguero
 >should have to feel "obligated" to dance with each and every woman or feel like
 >less of a "gentleman" because he does not ask each and every woman to dance.
...

Charles wrote:
...
 >The milongas here in New York can be crowded and at times I won't even get
 >around to  my favorite partners. Sometimes the timing is off and one is
 >seated while the other dances and vice versa. I dance at least three dances
 >unless the person is really awful and that doesn't always leave much time to
 >get to everybody some nights. I don't think people should change partners
 >every dance. Doing a set of dances is much nicer and gives the dancers time
 >to bond and communicate with Terpsichore :-)
...

In Berlin the average "dance duration" may amount to somewhat between 5-10
songs, with 3 beeing the minimum. If you (leader or follower) dance just
one or two songs your partner will may be feel a bit offended because
he/she takes it as an expression that you really didn't enjoy it. So even
in long tango night, you won't be able to dance with every woman. That is
why I try to dance at least with one woman I never danced before during a
night. Not so much for altruism but because I really like the suspension
and suprise of "the first time". But asking "unknown" women for a dance,
which I observed sitting already a long time without having danced, has
rewarded me several times with unpleasent refusals (i.e. being tango
voyeurs without knowing anything from the etikette and expressing in an
unfriendly way that they just want to watch ). Therefore I'm bit more
cautious now than I was before, especially when I don`t have my
"master_of_the_universe-self-esteem-day".


Renaldo wrote:
 >While I agree that the Tango is a "community" and I certainly enjoy the
 >community that AT brings to my life and all the closeness that there is in AT,
 >at the same time, I do not feel that it is "my" responsibility or obligation
 >to  make sure that others  have a good time at the expense of my own good
 >time.  I think that we are all personally mature enough and adult enough to be
 >responsible for our own personal good time.
...


Renaldo and Lynn both express two fundamental ethical principles: take
responsability for your own (Renaldo) and take responsability for the
others (Lynn). Both are right and important, they shouldn't be played one
against the other but be combinded according to the situation and one owns
needs and possibilities.


Renaldo wrote
 > I also mentioned that "they" (the women) can very well ask the men to
 > dance, especially in this
 > day and age and the "90's" style of gender liberation....   The response
 > from some of them was "we do not feel comfortable with asking a man to
 > dance" or it shouldn't have to be that way.

I also want to encourage women to ask the men for a dance, me and probably
most of the men enjoy it (it is flattering, isn't it?). But I can
understand that some women just don't want to ask or are to shy...maybe it
is to simple just to proclaim that we are now in the "90's" or "00's?"


O.k. I don't want to stress your patience any longer,
I hope we'll have a lot more discussions like this one this year
let me wish all of you a happy New Year,


Matthias Koller
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Date:    Thu, 6 Jan 2000 23:44:47 -0600
From:    Naomi Bennett
Subject: Party Manners to strangers


This has been a very big year for me and tango.  I go to new cities alone
and sometimes with a dance partner.  I have danced for a year.

Every new milonga is a bit difficult.  I followed the woman's social
manners in B.A. and didn't get to dance much as an unknown woman with about
15-20 other single women sitting at tables in competition.

I have now danced in Austin, Atlanta, Houston, Buenos Aires, Rio de
Jerinero, Vienna, Zurich, Budapest, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam and
Nijmegen and Brussels.

In general, it was difficult to get dances and I sat too much.  It really
helps to have a local contact to intoduce you.  But some men just didn't
get the idea (after an introduction) that perhaps a dance would be nice for
the new stranger.

So, there are some things I have now decided to so.  I go to festivals or
milongas and always take the classes.  I may not need the class but it is a
way to casually meet male dancers and practice with them before the dance
(especially true in B.A. where so much value is given for the men to look
good on the floor).  I now will get up and ask men to dance.  Some are just
shy and some just didn't see you.  If they say no (which does happen) I
don't take it personally.  They have their reasons.  I don't hesitate to
ask anyone under 50 but I am still intimiated by the very good male dancers
if their lead is complicated (very true in Europe).  Beginner dancers are
just fine.  It's the quality of the lead that is more important than it's
complexity.  The dance is walking, not figures.

I am not an advanced dancer and mistakes happen.  How the partners handle
it makes all the difference to the quality of the experience.  I appreciate
at least a set of 3 dances with a new man.  It takes about the second and
sometimes the third dance to follow all his leads.  And every man leads
differently in the step combinations and in the mark.

  Heaven does happen and so does electricity but that has more to do with
chemistry and not with how well we know each other or how well he or she
dances.  I had a man talk to me about his dance being wonderful with a
beginner.  It was the chemistry. His bias against asking her as a beginner
might have prevented him from having "the dance".  Another beginner amazed
him with her comfort of being held completely in close embrace so soon.
You never know.  I dance differently with different men so how I "look" on
the floor depends on the lead.

In general, I of course wished more strange men would ask me but we are
dealing with people and their personal tastes and manners.

In sales there is a motto for making a cold call (contacting someone that
you have never met).  If you aren't willing to get a NO, you will never get
a YES.  So, I choose to risk the NO for a YES.  It's only 3 to 10 minutes
out of your life.  The experience could be hell or it could be heaven but
it's always more than sitting or standing around watching others "have the
dance"..

Naomi Bennett
Austin, TX

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Garrit Fleischmann Jan. 2000
Email: kontakt(at)cyber-tango.com