Rules for organising a traditional milonga

SlowTangoHere is what I would consider the minimum set of rules and recommendations that a traditional milonga should enforce and aim for. The model here would be the “Slow Food” and “Slow City” movement that resists excess consumerism and aims to create local and convivial living, economics and social interaction.

Instructions to participants upon entry

  1. This is a traditional milonga, please abide by traditional customs.
  2. Please wear appropriate attire: formal or smart casual; no shorts, sports shoes or jazz/hip hop shoes.
  3. Only traditional tango dancing. Show tango, nuevo tango, same sex dancing or teaching are not allowed.
  4. Please aim to follow proper milonga etiquette: use cabeceo to invite partners, dancing the whole tanda and changing partners between tandas.
  5. If you’re changing shoes please do so away from the dance floor or, if available, in the changing room.
  6. This is a place to dance, enjoy the music and the atmosphere. Please keep loud chatter and activities like taking selfies to a minimum.

Goals and recommendations

Traditional milongas should aim to

  • create an authentic ambience for traditional tango in terms of music and decor.
  • promote a focus on dancing and proper etiquette through the organisation of seating, in particular, placing the seating close to the dancing floor and promoting a separation of men and women such that they face each other.
  • provide appropriate music in terms of the choice of music and sound reproduction. The person in charge of managing music should have adequate knowledge and understanding of traditional playlists and basic audio equipment in terms of software, DACs, amplifiers and speakers to design an adequate auditory experience for the dancers.
  • create intimate, high quality events, with good quality decor and sound equipment and expert choice of music, rather than packing a large space with a lot of participants and playing loud music on budget PA systems. It is better to use a small space like a cafe with more limited dancing space that is easier to control for sound than a large space that is much more difficult to control for acoustics.

Things to avoid

Traditional milongas should refrain from things that take away from the convivial and intimate atmosphere and distract from the activity of dancing and listening including:

  • loud marketing of the milonga, avoiding loud promotional posters and images;
  • seeking to get as many people to attend whether or not they have dancing experience and minimum understanding or at least interest in traditional tango culture;
  • excess promotion of teachers, performers, “DJs” or other “personalities”; people in attendance pay at the door and for the food and drinks;
  • excess promotion of the purchasing of overpriced workshops, festivals, shoes and dresses as this takes away from the convivial atmosphere;
  • using the milonga as a “practilonga” where students who are still learning practice in practice shoes, socks or informal clothing and don’t know how to follow the traditional codes.

Why tango is not an Afro dance stolen by evil whites

Bearing in mind the neo-Marxist bias and hatred of anything European or “white” in academia and the media it is not at all surprising to see attempts to show that tango has African roots which have been whitewashed or, to use a more freshly minted Pomo neologism, “whitened”. This I guess means that AT has been culturally appropriated (ie., stolen) by evil racist whites while the unfortunate noble blacks were written out of its history.

So let’s consider what it would mean for tango to have African roots and then to be whitewashed or “whitened”. In this we may be well-advised to stick to fairly well established facts and agreed upon meanings of words and to avoid emotive and politically charged neo-Marxist neologisms and politically charged slogans.

It is an incontestable fact that South America has a black population that has significantly and positively influenced the creation of the unique cultures of countries like Cuba, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. This is most obvious in Brazil where Afro-Brazilian culture includes things like Samba dancing, Batucada drumming and Capoeira dance/fight. Now, these are not specifically African but rather “Afro”. For example, while some elements of Capoeira can be traced to Angola, Capoeira in its modern form is Afro-Brazilian in the sense that it was created by African or Black people in Brazil based on forms that they brought from various parts of Africa but that did not exist in that form prior to their development in Brazil. In that sense it is unquestionable that the practices of Capoeira, Samba and Batucada have Afro-Brazilian roots and no one would question that.

It is also true that today these cultural forms are practiced by Brazilians of all colours. If you go to Sao Paulo you will see Batucada drumming bands called bateria (pronounced /bah-te-RI-a/) that you often see comprised mostly of whites, or that least that what I saw when I was there. Does that mean that white Brazilians have culturally appropriated/stolen this practice from the black Brazilians and that it has therefore been “whitewashed” or “whitened”? You could say that if you wanted I guess, eg., if you’re a neo-Marxist academic in a Western university and you see victimisation everywhere and these sorts of aspersions basically pays your salary and attracts audiences to your lectures. Except that most Brazilians would probably laugh you in the face and find this incredibly offensive and a slander of their country and you’d get serious pushback. Brazilian culture today is the product of 500 years of mixing or “appropriating”.

Uruguay is also said to have an Afro culture in the form of the Candombe, a sort of street marching band with drumming and free dancing, of which they are very proud and that you hear marching down the streets of Montevideo several times a week. The problem is that while Candombe has clearly Afro roots you see few black people in Montevideo and, as with the baterias in Sao Paulo, the Candombe bands are predominantly white as far as I could ascertain. In the 6 months that I spent there and having the bands march in front of my apartment regularly I do not recall seeing a single black person in any of these bands although I’m sure that there must’ve been some. So I guess we must say that that Candombe is “whitened” if that means that it is practiced (hence I guess appropriated, hence stolen) by white people. Go tell that to the Uruguayans.

So let’s consider Argentine tango. On my understanding the black population in Argentina has been decimated through war, disease and probably various state policies. So I would not dispute that they have been displaced and oppressed by whites, at least those in the government. As a libertarian I’m critical of all governments especially when they try to engage in social engineering and so I have no disagreement with neo-Marxists criticising governments, except that they want more government, not less.

So that’s not really the issue here because the claim is that whites have appropriated tango from the blacks. So the question is whether tango is either (a) an characteristically Afro or black cultural form like Capoeira, Batucada, Samba or Candombe; (b) a characteristically European or white cultural form that black people merely participated in; or (c) a creole form that has a mixture of white European and black Afro elements. If it is (c) then the further question (d) concerns the relative contribution of whites vs. blacks so that we an decide whether it is fair to say that one group created and hence owned this form as their cultural heritage or capital, and the other has appropriated or stolen it for themselves and has written the other group out of it.

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There are several facts that suggest that Argentine tango is a creole form that comprises of mainly European elements with some Afro admixture. To begin with, you will notice that the early tango orchestras were referred to themselves as a creole orchestra or orquesta criolla. So from the outset the form was recognised as a uniquely Argentine form that was creole, a mixture of imported forms. However, the neo-Marxist may argue that already in those early 20th century tango recordings there was a move to appropriate and whitewash tango.

So the next question is whether in this these musicians were already culturally appropriating and “whitening” what was really an Afro form. In order to decide this issue we need to try to reconstruct the evolution of tango from the early 19th century to the beginnings of the 20th century. That’s about 50-100 years of evolution. First, lets consider the characteristics of distinctly Afro vs. European forms of music and dance. If you consider the Afro forms in Brazil and Uruguay you will notice that they are heavily based on drumming rhythms and that the dancing to these rhythms is typically not partnered in an embrace of any sort but is either individual or separated and rather free form.

Afro forms utilise complex rhythms that probably originate in various parts of Africa and instruments that are predominantly if not wholly percussive. The Berimbau utilised in Capoeira can play several notes that can be replicated on a tonal instrument like the guitar but it’s hardly a melodic instrument. By contrast, it is an incontestable fact that tango as we understand it today is a musical form that utilises the Western tonality and harmony and is played on European instruments: guitar, flute, bandoneon, piano, violin, double bass, etc. As for the dancing, even putatively Afro dances like the Cuban partner dances, these can be traced to European origins in the English country dances and contradanza, and not to any distinctly African or Afro form (see Musicality: tracing the origins of tango to contradanza and habaneira).

So the question is whether distinctly Afro forms could integrate the Western form of music and dance, that is, tonality, melody, harmony and partner dancing? In the case of Capoeira the instruments like the drums and the Berimbau can be traced to Africa whereas if you look at forms like the American Blues and Jazz, these are played on Western instruments: guitar, piano, trumpet, bass, saxophone, etc. These are designed and played in accordance with Western tonality and theory of music that has evolved in Europe over centuries since the Middle Ages. So can we then say that Blues or Jazz has Afro roots because it originates with African-American culture in the US? And should we say that jazz has been appropriated or “whitened” because it was subsequently developed by many non-black musicians and in terms of musical form it is placed within the Western musical tradition.

Going back to Brazil, we can look at the development of the Bossa Nova out of a Brazilian song form. Joao Gilberto was a singer from Bahia who was exposed to the Afro-Brazilian rhythms and then created a way of playing the guitar that imitated those rhythms and the singing style that is peculiar to this form. The only problem is that, apart from those rhythms being imitated on the guitar, everything else is white: Joao Gilberto was a white man from an upper middle class family who played the Spanish guitar which is a European instrument and used the standard Western tonality and harmony. Moreover, the greatest and most prolific composer in the form Antonio Carlos Jobim was a classically trained pianist who was influenced by the European romanticist composer and pianist Frederick Chopin. Then the most recognisable recordings in the form are performed by the saxophonist Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto, all white.

What might irk the neo-Marxist sensibility even further is that the Bossa Nova has been identified with upper middle class Brazilian culture, ie., gentrification from the start. This is not to say that there are no black performers of the Bossa Nova. The most accurate characterisation is that it is a modern form that originates in Brazil, and so has Brazilian roots. Nonetheless, the neo-Marxist must absolutely abhor the Bossa Nova and run with disgust the moment they hear it. Indeed, one of the greatest exponents of Bossa Nova singing became disillusioned with the gentrified form and became a Communist turning to screechy protest songs instead.

So the question about Argentine tango is whether it is more like Capoeira which clearly has Afro roots, or more like Bossa Nova which has some elements to an Afro rhythm but otherwise is within the Western musical tradition and is gentrified and whitened from the start. If you look at the claims made by the neo-Marxist what you always see is some pictures of Afro-Argentinians participating in a Candombe ritual where people are engaging in what might be partner dancing to some rhythmic drum music and presumably singing, and then they might bring out a performance by an Afro-Argentinian demonstrating a Canyengue sort of street tango. The argument is that the “salon” approach is a whitened version of the original or authentic thing which was “street” and “Afro”.

In this, however, we are no longer in the realm of facts but rather of interpretation. It is an established historical fact that there were Candombe ritual parties common in Buenos Aires in the 19th century, and it is said that they were referred to as “tango”. But then we have to reconstruct the connection from these to the musica criola and associated dance form, the so-called tango Canyengue, that emerged toward the end of the century. You need to reverse engineer the form to figure out how much of that was Afro in origin and how much European. That’s difficult to do and so you need to engage in pure speculation to establish the Afro component vs. the European component. Only then can you say with any degree of certainty whether tango an Afro form like Capoeira which has been “whitened”, or whether it is more like Bossa Nova which has some Afro elements but is otherwise within the Western musical tradition.

Now I don’t discount that some neo-Marxist academic who hates anything Western or European will view Bossa Nova as having Afro roots and a form of hateful cultural plunder. But I assume that the reader is not a radical leftist ideologue University professor on a mission to destroy Western culture but actually wants to get a reasonable and appraisal of the situation based on the available facts. It is, in my view, far more plausible to say that tango even in its early stages of development as practiced by Afro-Argentines was a European from practiced by blacks. My argument is based mainly on the fact that tango music is essentially Western or European music, as is any music that uses the Western tonal system.

We can attempt to reconstruct the early history of tango’s evolution from the early years of the 19th century towards its form at the turn of the 20th century. Let’s say that early on you had these Candombe rituals. Then it would have been mainly drumming music. Was that recognisably Argentine Tango at that stage? Then some instruments would have to be introduced. The two instruments that are characteristic to tango are the guitar and the bandoneon. The modern guitar was invented in Spain around 1860. That was also the time when the bandoneon, invented in Germany, was brought to Argentina. This was precisely the time when large numbers of immigrants were arriving in Argentina and Uruguay. What we do know is that the milonga is a derivation of the Habeneira, a European dance form that incorporates an African rhythmic form called the tresillo.

So what is left of the Afro element of tango is the idea of a ritual dancing party and the rhythmic element, the tresillo, of the Habanera form. The other aspects: the idea of partner dancing, the instruments, the musical form are all European in origin. Sure, we can agree that blacks participated in this process of evolution, but they were part of the process of intermingling of forms, some of which were Afro. But they were crystallised into the musical and dance form that we see today only because of the formal structure of Western tonal music and partner dancing.

In other words, it seems to me more plausible to say that tango was “creole” from the outset and that was preceded it, some sort of a proto-tango would not be recognised as tango at all. Moreover, if it has been “whitened” or gentrified, what was whitened was not an Afro form but a creole form that had some Afro elements and that was practiced by both white and black Argentines within a largely Western form of music and dancing. The prior form of Candombe was not recognisably tango any more than the samba is recognisably Bossa Nova, even if Bossa Nova incorporates it. One way of putting the issue is to say that the neo-Marxist academics are committing the fallacy of composition:

The fallacy of composition arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole (or even of every proper part). For example: “This tire is made of rubber, therefore the vehicle of which it is a part is also made of rubber.” This is fallacious, because vehicles are made with a variety of parts, most of which are not made of rubber. (Wikipedia)

There are some elements in Tango that can be traced to Afro-Argentine roots. But even the idea of a dancing party is not uniquely Afro in origin even if the dancing parties in Buenos Aires at the time were Candombe parties. Neo-Marxist talk as if Europeans have never engaged in social dancing until they came to Argentina. It’s a level of historical ignorance that is just astounding, but if you know any neo-Marxist academic you will know that they pride themselves on their lack of history, or on some weird neo-Marxist version of it in which everything that Europeans have or do has been stolen from the noble savages.

A more reasonable and realistic view of the matter is that Afro-Argentines have been a part in the development of tango but that tango is a uniquely Rioplatense form that arose out of a combination of a number of elements, in particular, the habanera musical form and the practice of partnered social dancing. It was a creole form from the start and if anything the tango de salon is a “whitened” and gentrified form of what was already predominantly a white and gentrified form to begin with, the Afro contribution notwithstanding.

Neo-Marxist destruction of Argentine Tango: why I’m getting out

When I started the ATH project I thought that the problems that I saw on the tango scene had to do with things like poor organisation, poor teaching, and excess marketing. I then noticed that a lot of the issues had to do with the influence of politics, in particular, the encroachment of leftist and feminist ideology. I thought that perhaps the political influence would be limited and at least some part of the tango scene could be reserved for traditionalists who want to maintain the traditional practice of Argentine tango. However, I’m coming to the view that this assumption was wrong and that the tango scene is not only stagnating but rapidly regressing and falling into a downward spiral.

What’s particularly concerning is that the tango scene is following the wider social trends in becoming toxic for heterosexual men. Feminism has made it acceptable to view men with derision, to characterise male behaviour and cognitive style as toxic, and also to make it acceptable to plunder the fruits of men’s labour. Men perform the majority of the hard work in the economy and when feminists demand social justice and equity in the workplace what they mean is that they want easy access to the easy, comfortable, well-paying office jobs and they don’t want to compete for these by working long hours. Instead of treating their work professionally women feel entitled to dress provocatively at work to attract the attention of high status men but to cry sexual harassment when low status men show unwelcome interest. Men’s achievements in creating the most successful societies in history are derided as the work of “dead white males” who are instead said to have created a patriarchy that oppresses women and minorities.

The discourse deriding white men is now becoming well-established in tango and it is fair to say that it is no longer safe to be a north European man on the tango scene. Men are on the tango scene at the pleasure of women to provide partners for them. What I’m finding is that being a man on the AT scene you’re effectively regarded as a taxi dancer whose job is to satisfy women’s requirements. You’re not really appreciated or respected and this is signalled in a variety of ways.

For example, European women have a soft spot for “latin” men: South Americans, Italians, Portuguese, etc. Now, I understand that there are affinities between different ethnicities and I myself have a strong preference for Asian women. However, imagine if in my promotional material I constantly emphasised that there are great Asian female dancers at my event. If you analyse the discourse on the Western tango scene it is clear that it is essentially designed to cater to the tastes of Western women and their valuation of men. In this regard, I actually am on the side of those who call for “decolonising” tango. There seem to be few or no masculine Western men on the contemporary AT scene. Instead the typical guy on the AT scene is an emasculated social butterfly who is in a symbiotic bordering on parasitic relationship with the women.

As I see it, the contemporary AT scene is only marginally about sociality, conviviality and cultural enrichment and is predominantly about extracting value and it is slanted towards the interests and desires of women. I could offer many anecdotes illustrating the sort of toxic attitudes that I’m talking about: attention seeking, social climbing or competitiveness, consumptivism, valuation of men, etc. It is inevitable that these women are essentially engaging in self-sabotage because the men who remain on the tango scene know how to play the game. They are the “liberal”, leftist, feminist men who pander to the female ego and sense of entitlement but essentially extract maximum value for themselves by exploiting their advantage of scarcity as few real masculine men would endure the toxic vibe of the AT scene and instead pursue other, masculine hobbies. This is what I plan to do as well.

I’m pretty much done dealing with this and have already minimised my exposure to AT milonga scene. I’m just done with the treatment and I abhor feminism and female empowerment and entitlement. I was a “feminist” at university in the sense that I was in favour of equality between men and women. But I noticed that feminism is not about equality at all. It’s about female supremacy. Affirmative action is essentially about plundering men’s resources by women. It is about stealing from men: children, property, jobs, etc. Women have choices that men don’t. The idea that a man can be a “househusband” and the women can be the breadwinner is a complete fantasy. Women are given jobs in favour of men but still expect the man to be the provider. There is no equality or fairness in any of it.

All of this has eventually and inevitably reached the tango scene and I don’t see any improvement in the situation any time soon. What would have to happen is that all the steps that have been taken and that are being taken would have to be reversed, and it took a lot of steps to effectively kill tango. Tango is just another victim of socialism, or what Ludwig von Mises calls destructionism. As we find in Wikipedia:

Destructionism as discussed by Ludwig Von Mises, a classical liberal economist, is policies that consume capital but do not accumulate it. It is the title of Part V of his seminal work Socialism. Since accumulation of capital is the basis for economic progress (as the capital stock of society increases, the productivity of labor rises, as well as wages and standards of living), Von Mises warned that pursuing socialist and statist policies will eventually lead to the consumption and reliance on old capital, borrowed capital, or printed “capital” as these policies cannot create any new capital, instead only consuming the old.

Tango is the old capital that is currently being consumed or plundered by (a) the Argentinian state which has become parasitic and renders the country unproductive and (b) neo-Marxists in Argentina and elsewhere who seek so-called “social justice”, or what really amounts to plundering and destruction of the cultural capital of the West.

So let’s consider the steps in the process of the destruction and plundering of tango:

1940s

The rich economies of Argentina and Uruguay that were created mainly with men’s labour and that built beautiful cities with grand European architecture are destroyed by redistributive democratic statism/socialism starting with Juan Peron. The state plunders the economy that was built over the previous 100 years and then bails itself out by printing money destroying the currencies for decades. To this day the Uruguayan and Argentinian pesos are practically worthless and the cities look like they’ve been a war zone in recent years. Then, to explain the destruction of the economy, the blame is put on the evil American empire.

1980s

The Argentine government decides to engage in market capitalism by exploiting the tango culture and attracting tango tourism through state sponsored marketing. Has loud musicals travel internationally and then creates tango products for foreigners such as various classes, festivals, competitions, etc. Trains dancers to do performances and give workshops around the world that appeal to people’s vanity by offering them the possibility of “performing” in fancy costumes.

2000s

The “liberals” who dominate tango scenes in major urban areas start casting aspersions on traditional tango dancing as being “machismo” and traditionalist ideas as “the tango police” or “old boys club” etc., and promote leftist, feminist and egalitarian ideas about equality, anti-ablism, inclusivity, therapy and promote a culture of low expectations. They make sure that all communication channels such as forums and commentaries see discourse moving in the direction of the left and anyone that opposes that is outnumbered and if they appear to be persuasive are censored or cancelled.

2010s

We see the hard left ramping up the political attack by promoting the idea that tango is black/Afro culture dance that is culturally appropriated by rich whites or that has been “whitened” and gentrified and that it needs to be “decolonised”. It’s not clear what that means but it seems to mean at least (a) if you’re white you should feel guilty about your people appropriating/stealing and gentrifying/whitening tango; (b) you should work to compensate the marginalised groups by making tango less ableist, patriarchal, oppressive, that is, by rejecting things like skill, social rules or manners, and sex roles; and (c) refusing to dance or excluding in any way minority groups like black women, homosexuals, transexuals or the disabled signals internalised systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.

Any resistance to the LGBTQ+ agenda in tango is to be met with resistance. Although I haven’t seen this happen yet I won’t be surprised if we see online and offline mobs protesting cisgender only tango events that follow the traditional codigos as oppressive and patriarchal, and calls for people who organise or participate in such events to be fired from jobs, cancelled from forums, etc.

800px-Overton_Window_diagramTo my mind the people on the AT scene who are politically on the centre or to the right of centre are like the proverbial boiling frog. The left is taking systematic steps to shift the Overton Window away from traditionalist discourse towards a discourse where the traditionalist attitudes are considered radical and unacceptable. Their strategy was developed by Herbert Marcuse in his essay “Repressive Tolerance” (1965), namely, to be intolerant towards the mainstream attitudes in order to establish their preferred leftist attitudes. As Marcuse puts it at the outset:

The conclusion reached is that the realization of the objective of tolerance would call for intolerance toward prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions, and the extension of tolerance to policies, attitudes, and opinions which are outlawed or suppressed. In other words, today tolerance appears again as what it was in its origins, at the beginning of the modern period–a partisan goal, a subversive liberating notion and practice. Conversely, what is proclaimed and practiced as tolerance today, is in many of its most effective manifestations serving the cause of oppression.

So what the left is doing is systematically seeking to repress the prevailing attitudes and to tolerate only the marginal attitudes, namely, the attitudes of feminists, homosexuals, LGBTQ+, blacks, etc. The goal is to repress and not tolerate the attitudes that represent the dominant mainstream population, to delegitimise those attitudes. This is the explicit program of the left and as far as I can see they are proceeding with this program unabated. I see only a few people are meekly expressing dissent only to be mobbed with so-called “liberal” attitudes or opinions, ie., opinions that are anti-ablism, anti-male, and pro-inclusivity. Characteristically masculine and achievement oriented attitudes are actively opposed and discouraged, and a feminine cognitive style is dominant and acceptable. There are instead explicitly political moves to “decolonise” tango, to normalise same-sex dancing and to rely less on men in the organisation of events. Any such moves in the opposite direction would be considered fascist, sexist, or white supremacist.

The neo-Marxist agenda for tango is being clearly defined and can be found on websites like those of Olaya Aramo who is a “Philosopher with a PhD on sociology of gender. Professional (queer) tango dancer and organizer and Contact Improvisation practitioner and researcher.” As I have mentioned previously (see eg., Postmodernism) universities today are in the business of destroying Western culture and a major tool that they have developed is the manipulation of language. You basically have an army of PhDs like Aramo in philosophy, sociology, gender studies and dance departments of universities who are getting government funding to write dissertations on how to turn tango into a postmodern, inclusive, therapeutic, vegan, anti-patriarchal, queer practice that transgresses gender roles blah blah blah. This is their goal and they’re busy organising and indoctrinating.

So here are some of Aramo’s proposals for destroying tango:

Politicise tango in terms of rich vs. poor

Aramo’s first workshop Class and gender in the origins of tango teaches participants that

politics are a constitutive part of the movement itself, making visible the contribution of marginalized social groups as poor migrants, people of color, prostitutes, as well as the processes of whitening, gentrification, and nationalization.

So tango was created by poor migrants, non-whites and prostitutes, and then it was “stolen” by rich white Argentine nationals. So what’s the solution? Reparations of course. Given that the participants are most likely affluent white people I guess the goal is to create a sense of guilt and self-loathing.

Convince people that tango was stolen from the blacks by evil whites in an act of “cultural appropriation” aka cultural theft

The workshop entitled Intersectional tango, black roots of tango and whitening processes in technique

traces a genealogy in the movements of tango, looking for its black roots based on ethnomusicological and ethnodancelogical research, and describing the process which led to the whitening of these roots through so-called professionalization and cultural appropriation during the nationalization of tango phase. It’s aimed for anyone interested in tango or cultural history, and it’s especially pertinent for intermediate and advanced tango dancers who can strongly feel these cultural influences functioning in their bodies.

It’s not clear (at least to me) that Aramo is not herself engaging in “professionalisation” and “cultural appropriation” but either way she clearly wants to convince tango dancers that when they are dancing tango their bodies are somehow participating in stealing black culture, at least that’s one interpretation of this Pomo gobbledygook.

Convince people that sex roles are a patriarchal ploy and an irrational bias and therefore need to be destroyed

In the “Gender roles and gender identity” workshop entitled Unrolling partner dance Aramo teaches that

The assumption of roles in popular partner dance is prejudice to be overcome. Today, we know that there’s no need to use the fixed roles of following and leading to dance any partnered dance. This assumption comes from a social construction about gender roles and it is not based on any technical impossibility of dancing differently. What do we have instead? We need to deepen in the practice of active listening or connection, where we find the essence of partnered dance itself. This skill can be developed through simple exercises brung [sic] from contact improvisation, where roles have never existed and can be applied to any form of popular partnered dances.

Of course it may be possible to dance without leading and following but that does not, without the further assumption of gender fluidity ideology, entail that we want to overcome gender roles. Amaro is not, however, concerned with such mundane questions as freedom of choice because clearly she simply takes it as given that gender roles need to be destroyed in favour of “pansensuality” because that what she wants and wants everyone to want, presumably because wanting gender differences is being an oppressed slave of the patriarchy.

Anyway, I think that this illustrates clearly enough the neo-Marxist strategy for destroying tango. One may follow the link and consult the remainder of this stuff, I don’t have a stomach for it. I think the problem is that people on the tango scene believe that this will be a separate thing away from the mainstream milonga scene, but I think that they are mistaken and that we are going to see increasingly aggressive incursions by neo-Marxists on the mainstream tango scene in the form of same-sex dancing, transgender, queer and lesser-abled people insisting on being included, various improvisational dancing and vocal criticism on and off TA forums of traditional norms as signs of the cultural appropriation and patriarchy. In fact, we are already seeing all of these but over time they will ramp up to the point where the milonga scene will be unrecognisable and will in all likelihood completely implode.

For now the neo-Marxist agenda is proceeding unabated in its “slow march through the institutions” as the communist strategist Antonio Gramsci put it. Unless I see enough people waking up to what is going on, taking the “red pill” and presenting a concerted resistance I no longer recommend participating AT. I am myself minimising my own participation and instead focusing on other hobbies that are safer for masculine European men. If you are a man with an interest in AT I suggest becoming an audiophile or a musician as these seem to be relatively safe spaces for men. These can lead to organising tango events away from the feminised, neo-Marxist ridden tango scene, and may open up the possibility of re-building an alternative, anti-PC tango scene. But for the time being tango dancing seems to be pretty much a high risk activity for men and to be generally in the process of destruction. This website, if it survives the neo-Marxist attack and does not get cancelled, is meant to serve as a message in the bottle for future generations who might be able to attempt to rebuild it.

Post Scriptum

August 6, 2020, Eastern Europe. Once again I attend a milonga at which talking to women is essentially getting a gender studies lecture on “machismo” and how female tango dancers in BA are revolting against machismo by wearing flat shoes. I then enjoy the spectacle of two same-sex couples, two women and two men, dancing milonguero style and  when I mumble dissent to a woman she tells me that I have a “choice” and can be invited by a man with a cabeceo.

So we’ve progressed from a situation where a few months ago it was either same sex couples or a lecture on machismo and women wearing flat shoes. Now, it’s doubling up with all of those in one event. Just as I predicted above. So directionally speaking there will be a point where am I really participating in a queer/feminist event where traditional “cisgender” dancers are in an event really intended for flat shoes feminists, queer and gender fluid/transgender dancers. I’d say we’re at least a third of the way there if not further but give it a year or two. They’re hard at work on it in the gender studies and dance departments of universities and their project is moving according to plan.

Below is a great lecture from the the Mises Institute on socialism and what you can expect, including a discussion of Mises’s notion of socialist destructionism:

And here is a video of a partriachal “cisgendered” milonga, with plenty of “machismo”. Bring in the gender studies professors to set them right!

Salon Canning vs the tango organiser (aka Fakebook Tango): why there are no good tango DJs

My Friend: Hi … organizers! Will you help Tom find good tango in your cities?

Me: I like anything with Golden Era music. Thanks!:)

Organiser 1: [Links to FB groups for those cities]

Me: Thanks! However, it’s hard to tell from FB groups which organizers/DJs play good quality Golden Era music, ie. no music after 1950.

O1: what are you looking for? milongas, classes, practicas?

Me: The Salon Canning experience lol

O1: it’s hard to predict sometimes even if you know the dj

Me: The DJ should inform the organisers about equipment set up and DJ set.

O1: they rarely do it

Me: I know. But they should. It’s like lottery.

MF: Hahaha the world would be a better place but only at Canning man… It’s a hit and miss everywhere yes

O2: Tom, O1 is right. You can’t be sure about the sort of music that DJs will play in the milonga in [country name]. Usually the music can be really ‘surprising’ meaning ‘shitty’. There are a few djs you can trust.

One of them is O1 :)) She played in my milonga and it was really cool. So I can highly recommend her. BTW, when will you play at …, O1??? I miss you!

As for …, there is good music at milonga …. The DJs are very good, with a good taste [dj’s]. They play traditional tango music.

And in … there is a great new milonga on … as well run by an Italian, Argentinian and Uruguay DJs who really take care about what they play. So you should be satisfied, Tom.

If you want you can check my milonga on …. We invite DJs and we try to find the good ones, I mean the ones who don’t experiment too much :))))

Me: Thanks O2, that sounds good. Basically I’m interested in the standard trad BA repertoire and a decent audio setup … no direct audio cable into the laptop audio jack, decent DAC and no lossy mp3s. Apparently that’s still a lot to ask. I still find DJs who haven’t heard of TangoTunes and use mp3s and the audio jack. This was excusable 5-10 years ago. I really wish there was some way of screening for these things. But I accept that being a musician I’m hypercritical and most people don’t care. I’ll check out those recommendations. Thanks again!:)

O2: Oh! So to be honest, you will suffer on … if you come because we don’t t have such an equipment at our place. Our regular lovely place has been closed because of pandemic, and now we are renting a students’ club dancing floor which is not perfect at all. Especially in terms of the sound. But if you just look at it like meeting new great people :))) you will have fun. I promise you 🙂

Me: Ok I’ll adjust my expectations. Which is your milonga?

[I’m starting to get frustrated as I’m getting a sense that the information I’m getting is all but useless and I want to get rid of the red herrings they’re throwing my way and focus on what I want, which was the original reason I’m having this conversation. I also noticed that O2 seems to be clueless about proper DJ-ing audio equipment.]

Me: People focus on the music that the DJ selects, which is either trad or not. But I heard “trad” DJs with really awful sound. And the three things that the DJ needs to really understand is sound files, music player software, and DACs. I discovered this by way of listening to classical music. The standard Mp3 + iTunes + audio jack (built-in DAC) are not designed for music reproduction, you know, what used to be called “Hifi” … High Fidelity. Modern music (electronic, pop) is recorded to sound good on the cheapest device possible. But tango is very fragile and needs super careful treatment and curation. But people aren’t doing that. There is a website called https://tangodjsforgoodsound.info and I think you guys should put your basic audio set up there, and make sure you always carry it with you. I’m guessing that people aren’t losing their DACs. I’d suggest having a Dragonfly DAC as a backup.

O2: That’s interesting. I will talk about this with guys who really care about the sound and quality of the music they play. Thanks for sharing it.


What’s interesting about this conversation is that these “organisers” and “tango DJs” appear to be completely clueless about what amounts to a basic audio setup for tango, and when I broach the issue they try to change the subject and finally just go cold as I’m not responding to their efforts at marketing. They appear to know little or nothing about it, or at least its not something they want to discuss. Instead, they want to focus on “meeting people” and “DJs that don’t experiment too much”, and that the DJs are Argentinian, Uruguayan and Italian .

What does that mean? When I go to Salon Canning I’m not there to “meet people”, I’m there to dance. Also, I expect no experimentation from the DJ. I expect what you get every time you go there, traditional Argentine tango music. It’s always the same. Even at the hipster milongas in BA the music was never something I had to pay any attention to since it was all acceptable. Yet you go elsewhere and whether the DJ is Argentinian or not the music is consistently frustrating and jarring.

My online tango friend Bononno (his blog is Tango High and Low) started a topic on a tango forum “What makes a good DJ?” To quote:

I’ve been thinking about this for a while but am only now getting around to asking. (I searched the archives but couldn’t find anything in the forum on the topic.) After listening to some wonderful DJs and some really atrocious DJs, I’m wondering why this happens. The corpus of danceable tango songs is large, but not that large. There’s a fixed body of songs from which to draw, almost exclusively from 1925 to 1950. There are certain orchestras that are essential to any milonga, and some that aren’t. But I know from experience that some DJs play one magnificent tanda after another, with appropriate cortinas, and others are all over the map, mixing classic tangos (generally fine) with later songs that are almost never played. Generally, these tend to be overly dramatic, largely vocal songs from the late 40s and 50s. Generally, these are songs I am unfamiliar with.

I am also beginning to wonder about Argentine DJs. We’ve got a bunch who live here and others who come through here and most of them are not to my liking (some are terrific though). They have a fondness for offbeat songs or very late examples of Pugliese and Troilo, which are difficult to dance to and go on for far too long. The cortinas often consist of cheap top-40 rock-and-roll, which generally spoils the mood of the milonga. Or they play 10-minute salsa songs. (A bad idea at a milonga in my opinion.) Is this a porteño thing, playing vulgar rock and outlier tangos? I realize the tradition in B.A. is a bit different than what we have come to expect elsewhere, but there’s a lot of beautiful tango music out there; no reason not to play it.

What’s surprising is that there [are] a number of good, solid DJ playlists available, recommendations on which composers to play and what periods, and so on. I’m not saying it’s easy to be a DJ, but they could at least stick to music that the crowd can dance to and wants to hear. I’m not asking for favorite songs or orchestras (I have mine, you have yours), but it’s awfully frustrating to go to a milonga and sit out many of the tandas because the music is just not something that moves you to get up and dance. In tango, there’s no need to try to expand the repertoire into obscure or unloved tangos; you simply have to pick and choose the best from what’s available. And there’s a lot.

It should be so simple. So why isn’t it? As Bononno correctly points out the tango DJ should stick to the established tango repertoire and have a clue about organising the tracks, and that’s hardly rocket science. The more difficult part lies in getting a decent sound.

There are two reasons why tango DJs who are moving around on the milonga scenes around the world are allergic to traditional tango music. First, there is the technical difficulty of getting a decent sound out of Epoca de Oro music. Most DJs know little more than to set up some music or DJ software on their laptop and to get some tango music to play. The worst case scenario is if they use something like iTunes and mp3 music files. Better if they use some sort of a “lossless” format and a better music player. But that’s still going to be far from enough and so they “experiment” in order to spice up a set which is falling flat.

In order to make traditional tango music come alive ideally you need high quality transfers from the shellac records to high resolution 24bits/96kHz FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files with minimum amount of cleaning of pops and noise and zero compression. You try to get rid of noise and use compression and the music sounds flat and lifeless. But the reality is that the music that was put out on CDs is virtually all cleaned up and compressed, losing most of the dynamic range (see The Great 78 Project: Listen to EdO records as they originally sounded.)

But a decent transfer to a HighRes file is just the beginning. Because for that sound to hit your ear in it’s optimal fullness you’re going to need a decent set up on the computer. You’re going to need music player software that is designed for quality sound reproduction. Neither iTunes nor DJ software designed for highly compressed electronic music like Traktor is adequate for this. Instead, you’re going to need something dedicated to high fidelity reproduction like JRiver Media Center or better still Audirvana.

Finally you’re going to need a decent external USB DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter). The built-in DAC inside the laptop is not designed for quality sound reproduction, especially as the electrical noise inside the computer interferes with this process. Yet I continue to see tango DJs plug the audio cable directly into the headphone jack on their laptop. It’s a complete joke.

Here’s my audio setup with approximate cost which is minimally adequate for listening, editing sound files and delivering sound in small cafe and studio spaces:

  • Music player: Audirvana ($120)
  • DAC: AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt 1.0 ($300)
  • Active speakers: iLoud Micro Monitor  ($300)

Tango music would be consistently great if tango DJs and organisers cared about DJing as much as they care about promoting themselves. Unfortunately, and this is the second reason, they don’t. What they sell is red herrings: meeting people, dancing lessons, workshops, events, marathons, and loud high energy DJ sets spiced up with a lot of non-standard numbers, in other words, they sell a lot of buzz. With very few exceptions, sticking to quality traditional tango music is not in their business model. Their business model is selling tango product.

The other thing is, they seem to crave all the attention they get on their Fakebook pages, their 100s of international FB friends, promoting stuff with posters, a lot of online technique lessons, etc. But if you just ask for traditional tango they tune out. You can feel the Arctic wind. They just couldn’t care less. It’s boring and they couldn’t get attention on their Fakebook pages and the associated status, international friends, exoticism, or product for that. There would be no buzz. Salon Canning is the Fakebook tango marketing buzz killer.

TangoVoice’s real agenda for Argentine Tango uncovered

It is not always all that interesting to look into a person’s motivations when they take a particular stance on Argentine Tango. You’ve got the usual suspects. You’ve got the typical Argentine guy in Europe, US, Australia or Asia. There’s no mystery there. They are just the typical Latino guy on the consumer ethno-dance scene that provides them with some cash, attention, access to women, that they just would not get back home where they are just another boring non-significant loser (and that’s what the majority of these types are in fact). Then you have the leftists, the feminists, and progressives who insist on reconstructing a social practice to fit their own retarded leftist agenda, to suit their own sick mind, but in the process also to score some of the same sorts of things.

You get some of that with TangoVoice. But when you look more closely you also get something else. In particular, three items come into focus. First, there is the wordiness of it all. That’s a salient trait right there that might get you to think about who this person is. High verbal IQ is not equally distributed within the population. Second, there is the condescending view of the local population in the US. The idea is that these people are not “happy” because they lack physical touch, and they need “therapy” that “liberates” them from their misery of contact deprivation. And tango is a therapy that these repressed people need. Third, there is the tolerance of feminism and non-traditional sexual orientations (homosexuality and trans) and the view that intolerance to these is just a sign of mere prejudice, indeed, it’s fascism!

Now, there is a group of people who feature quite prominently in the history of tango in Buenos Aires, who have also written profusely about the need of Europeans to liberate themselves from their repressive patriarchy, which they identify as the source of the “authoritarian personality”, and who have consistently advocated sexual liberation and various forms of body or sex therapy to deal with what they see as the sickness due to sexual repression based on Freudian principles. I mean, we are talking many books, virtually all the major authors, many of whom are still taught at universities. Moreover, they feature prominently in dance departments and in the creation of various body and sex therapies.

You hear that Freudian therapy is quite popular Buenos Aires. Indeed, these people have been helping the men of Buenos Aires to deal with their sexual repression by supplying them with women from Europe. In their own publications that are easily found with a simple Google search they talk openly about the large scale sex trafficking of women form Eastern Europe to South America in the 19th century. Somehow, they themselves don’t seem to be very proud of that history. Perhaps if it wasn’t their own women that they were trafficking it would not get any mention, indeed it would be regarded as anti-semitic, alas it was their own women that they were trafficking and they themselves admit it.

So here we have uncovered the real identity and the real agenda of TangoVoice. Virtually all of the names of the people who are engaged in using sex as a “body therapy” for repressed Europeans—Europeans who therefore have authoritarian tendencies and who need to be encouraged to be more open to homosexuality, transgenderism and demographic replacement,—are ethnically Jewish. It is no wonder, therefore, that the idea that Argentine Tango might be a European dance used to help Europeans socially interact, to help in courtship towards marriage within an ethnically homogenous society is anathema to them. It’s fascism! Their goal is the exact opposite. It is to use tango to “liberate” Europeans from the idea that they should court each other for the purposes of procreation, and instead to use sex to make them less rather than more reproductive. I guess it’s possible to view things like prostitution and degeneracy as part of the history of tango and therefore as “traditional” in that sense, if it reaches your goals. But then we should be open about what the real agenda is.