Black Coffee and Frappucinos

Several weeks ago I attended a blues/fusion dance in SF and watched a "tango" demo during a break in the evening. A friend standing next to me and asked "This must be killing you, right?" I could only respond that comparing the demo, which was intended for consumption by a fusion audience, to social tango would be like comparing "frappucinos to black coffee".

The dance involved multiple underarm turns, ganchos galore, and leg wraps and scything kicks that would have been at home in Forever Tango. This wouldn't normally bother me- many of the moves presented to tango audiences by professionals during a demo are far more athletic and dramatic than what you can expect to encounter on the dance floor. But this wasn't being presented to a tango audience that has experience with the realities of crowded milonga floors- this was being presented as tango to an audience under the assumption that it would attract them to the dance.

People are welcome to seek out dances they like- I enjoy a good frappucino just like the next person. But I dislike the idea of a caricature of the dance being presented to an audience in place of the experience of social dancing, particularly when the audience is as capable of understanding the enjoyment of a dance with a focus on connection as the blues/fusion community.

Tango is like a good cup of coffee to me: outwardly simple, but nuanced and complex for those who spend time with it. Frappucinos might be easier for a wider audience to consume with the immediate appeal of sweetness, but they bear more resemblance to a milkshake than a cup of coffee. Social tango might not be as outwardly flashy as it's stage or fusion versions, but as the many dancers around the world dancing it can tell you, there's nothing quite like experiencing it.