Chasing trophy tandas

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Sharing achievements

I made it.“… they told me. “I danced with X.“… mentioning a famous dancer and then we continued our discussion about how it felt etc. Oftentimes people tell me about how they danced with such and such a partner who is someone famous or a teacher or a prominent advanced dancer in some way. I understand that when you have a nice moment you want to share it. I actually encouraged people to share their inspiring stories. But somehow, I don’t often tell such stories myself.

Some other times people would come to me and suggest that I should dance with this or the other dancer because they are famous… teachers… good… etc. Sometimes I already have spotted the dancer they refer to and others not. Sometimes I do dance with them… sometimes I don’t even try. But the question is… why do we assign so much value to dancing with specific persons because of their fame and reputation? Why do we think that it is something important? And in the end… Why do we brag about it when it happens… and where can this mentality lead us?

Do we ever stop being beginners?

I am not stupid. I understand the importance of the value that a beginner dancer sees when they are getting a dance with an advanced dancer in the community. I advocated so many times for it and I still stand by my opinions. However, no matter how advanced a dancer, we are there is always someone who we look up to and we think of as better than us. If we have crossed the line of beginner or intermediate dance and we consider ourselves an advanced dancer why do we still see so much value in dancing with someone else who we consider more advanced? Doesn’t this make us a beginner again? Don’t we ask from those dancers what we may deny to others? Why does it still matter so much?

There were a few times in my short dancing journey so far that I was lucky to dance with someone I considered better than me… maybe a famous dancer… maybe a local teacher… maybe a visiting teacher…maybe someone who I saw perform etc. What I’ve noticed is a change happening in me the more I have had such tandas. After every such tanda, I came out humbler. The more such tandas I have the less I want to brag about them… the less I feel the need to mention them… the more I want to just lock them up in my memories box and never let anyone know about them.

I started wondering about it. Why am I keeping those tandas secret and not sharing them with others? Why do I only tell a few select friends about them (if I ever tell anyone about them)? Couldn’t I just write and talk and create more noise about them? Of course, I could. But I don’t. Even writing this post feels… awkward.

The value of a trophy

A couple of days ago, a friend told me that such Tandas are called “Trophy tandas” and it dawned on me. I understand that from the point of view of a dancer who dances with a famous visiting teacher, this seems like an achievement. It seems like a trophy. It is an expensive gift given to you by someone you value. The point however is what do you do with the trophies you collected?

There are two different extreme possibilities. The first is that you appreciate the value of the trophy and you try to keep it private. You put it in a nice place on your memory trophy case and lock it there for yourself. The other is to take it with you and show it off on every little occasion. You show it to your friends, family other dancers in your community etc.

So I wonder. How important is such a trophy if you take it out and show it off so often? I mean… think about a diamond ring… or a necklace… or a very expensive watch… do you wear them every day? Do you wear them when you go shopping in the supermarket? I guess not. Valuable jewellery is meant to be kept in safe secret places. Such items are meant to be used on rare, formal and important occasions. If you use them every day they kind of lose their importance to you and consequently they lose importance for others too.

I think this is what bothers me most. The “trophy tandas” are gifted to you by someone you value and appreciate. When you “use” them on every possible occasion without reason, isn’t this also reducing the value you assign to those persons? Doesn’t it somehow show a kind of disrespect to them? That you don’t see them as important as they really are to you?

Chasing trophies

If you look at it from another angle there is another question too. Why does someone feel the need to chase and brag about such Tandas? Is this what defines your ability and value as a dancer? Is this the validation that you are a good dancer? If so then you are up to an endless chase of trophies. Whenever you are in a room with a person you consider a better dancer, you will not be satisfied if you don’t dance with them. You will never feel you are good enough unless you win the trophy in the room. Binding your dance happiness to external factors such as other dancers and even more so famous dancers, teachers etc. will only make you miserable for life.

I guess this is why I don’t feel the need to chase such trophy tandas anymore. Don’t get me wrong. I do still want to dance with better dancers… but I am not going to lose my time and my tandas chasing a trophy when I can find pleasure anywhere. Because, as I wrote in an earlier post, I am pretty happy with my dance as it is at the moment, and dancing alone gives me pleasure. It is not the partner who gives me pleasure. That is just a bonus when it happens. I get pleasure simply by the fact that I enter into a ten-minute relationship giving the best of myself to my partner regardless of what I will get back. You know what? This way… I don’t feel like I am chasing trophies… It just feels like trophies come to me even from the most unexpected places!

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango

Tonight’s goodnight tango is titled “Triunfal” by Astor Piazzolla. Since the song doesn’t have any lyrics it is up to each and everyone to interpret the music as they feel like. What I find interesting in this piece is that after the first part of the quick melody, which seems like a struggle or a race to something, when the time comes for the second melody, the triumph you might expect doesn’t seem to come with an epic melody with tuttis and crescendos. Instead, it is a slow silent bittersweet melody played mostly solo on the bandoneon. It gives me the taste of a sweet but silent triumph… kept close to your heart… somehow like the way I see my own small triumphs and trophy tandas.

So how about you? How do you deal with your trophy tandas? Do you let everyone know? Do you keep them private? How important and valuable are they to you? Do you chase them? Or do you feel like you don’t need to? Let me know…

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2 responses to “Chasing trophy tandas”

  1. Bojan Tošić Avatar
    Bojan Tošić

    I agree with everything said here… I just don’t agree with terms beginner, intermediate, advanced… If your instructor say You can go to milonga, you are good enough, you are dancer… Good or bad that is for your dance partners to say… Trophy tandas… Well. for somebody that is tanda danced with best dancer on the world… I will tell you what I witnessed… Eleonora Calganova performed in my city… Best dancer on the world for me… And like no other maestro she danced after performance with everybody who asked her… I could ask her… But I didn’t… You know, when cortina ends and first song in tanda starts, that is time for cabaceo… I want a lady in that moment to look in my direction… That is sign that she want to dance with me… That music… Well, that is trophy tanda for me… And I will keep that tanda for myself…

    1. Christos Kouroupetroglou Avatar

      Hi Bojan!
      First of all thanks a lot for your comment.
      To be honest I also disagree with myself on using the terms beginners, intermediate etc…
      I have actually written about it long time ago.
      https://goodnighttango.com/2022/08/22/are-there-really-levels-in-tango/
      I use the terms simply because they are the most common terms to indicate somehow a difference in the experience, technique, quality etc of dancers. Just like the terms follower and leader which I also use but don’t like simply because they are a widely used convention.
      Now… I completely agree with your approach and definition of a trophy tanda. I also feel the same. If I am to dance with a visiting teacher… a famous dancer etc… I need to know they want to dance with me by a mirada. Otherwise it feels like I am forcing it and they do it simply out of obligation.

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