“Are you dancing in Germany?”. That’s a question I often get when I am back in Greece and visit milongas. My answer is usually “Yes… even more than here!”. Recently a guy I know in Greece was asking me how is the community in Germany and how is the Tango scene there. I responded by saying that I like very much the community in Frankfurt. More than the one in Thessaloniki now for many different reasons.
However, this might not be the case for everyone. There are definitely cases where people might like more tango as they had it in another place. Obviously, our experiences differ much and our opinions are biased and based on them. But why does this happen? Why do our experiences and how can we have such a different opinion on such an issue?
It’s not like my previous wife’s!
Once upon a time, there was a guy who was married to a woman and lived with her for many years until she passed away. After some time, he decides to find another partner. He goes on dates, meets other ladies and at some point, he finds a lady with whom he seems to click. Time passes by and they decide it’s time to move together. She moves into his house and everything seems fine until the first day she cooks for them. She cooks a very special recipe of baked chicken with potatoes and they eat it. During the meal, she sees that the guy is not really enjoying the food. She asks him what is wrong and he says… “It’s nice, very nice… but it’s not like my previous wife’s”.
The lady is slightly bothered but tries again the next day with a different dish. She pours all her affection and mastery and cooks a delicious meal and the response from the guy is again the same. “Look… I don’t want to hurt you… It’s very nice… but it doesn’t compare to how my previous wife was cooking it.”. The same goes on for days and the woman is getting a bit nervous and agitated. This day, because of her nervousness she accidentally pours more salt in the tray… forgets to switch off the oven on time and the meal is a disaster. The meat is totally burnt and salty as hell. She initially hesitates to serve it but in the end, being already frustrated enough she serves it as it is. From the first bite, the man’s eyes shine with happiness and he shouts… “Yes my love!!! This is exactly like my previous wife’s meals!!!”
The point of this joke is that people are creatures of habit. When we are used to something in a specific way, then no matter if we get exposed to other better options we will often still go for the option we are used to. Like English people say… “Stick with the devil you know”. If our taste for something is set based on a large experience then it is very hard to change them.
Tango flavors and tastes
As you probably noticed if you traveled a bit, the Tango you see around the world is not always the same. Communities and their styles are affected very much by their cultural backgrounds and a number of other factors, etc. Chicho addresses that in one of his latest interviews. The cultural background for example of the southern European countries is quite different from the northern ones. It is therefore natural to see that the Tango in the two regions is different. People who grow and get used to one or the other Tango flavor will possibly find different flavors maybe not much to their taste.
Now depending on the “tango food” you are used to tasting, you may find it easier or not to like a new taste. For example, I was exposed to and got in touch with Tango in Germany only after one year of actually dancing Tango in Greece. I was still a “tango baby”. I hadn’t yet managed to form a specific taste. If someone had considerably more experience in dancing in southern European countries or in Asia or in any other different place, it is inevitable that they would be much more used to the flavor of Tango there, and that is why they probably wouldn’t like the German flavor of Tango much. On the other side of him, people who grew up (tangowise) in the German flavor of Tango might not like the Greek flavor much when they experience it. So, this goes in all different directions!
Now, I need to point out here that taste is obviously something subjective. The fact that I (or anybody else) like one or the other taste doesn’t mean that some taste is better than others. It only means that they are different and I like one more than the other. My or anybody else’s taste is not the ultimate criterion and nobody is some kind of tango judge who decides what is good and bad tango. Can you ever argue with someone from another culture about whose cuisine is better? No… you can only provide arguments why you like more one cuisine than the other. But this doesn’t mean that you need to agree.
In a recent post, I wrote about my return to my hometown and how this triggered a reflection on my journey so far and the effect of Tango on it. People always want to have a home to return from time to time. The man of the joke was actually expressing his homesickness. His willingness to get back to what he was used to. Home is where we feel at ease… at peace with ourselves. Home is where everything seems natural. Home is where everything is like what you are used to. Home is where things are more familiar than any other place in the world.
Having said that, and given my taste in terms of the Tango flavors now, I can say that although my tango origins lie in Greece… I don’t feel it like my home anymore. When it comes to Tango, I feel that my home now is in Germany and more specifically in the community of Frankfurt. Whenever I get back to Frankfurt from a long absence, I get this sensation of coziness, warmth, and familiarity that you get when you return home.
Revisiting my answer to my friend’s question about Tango in Germany, I can say that my enthusiasm comes from this homelike sensation that this community now brings to me. I would add though a disclaimer to him. The fact that I like it more here doesn’t mean that everyone else will and should too. Unless you are willing to accept the differences and at least be open to experiencing them, you will not be able to appreciate them.
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango is an instrumental piece from Senòr del Tango and is called… “Mi refugio”. The title is almost perfect to reflect how I feel now about Frankfurt in terms of Tango. It is the place where I feel more familiar with. It is my shelter, my place… my home.
How about you? Where is your Tango home? How do you feel when you are in it? Is it the same place where you come from? A different one? Is it the place you started learning Tango… the place you are now… the place you want to be in the future? Let me know with a comment below, an email, or a PM on Facebook… oh… and if you liked it… don’t forget to share it with your friends.