"Love" and Tango and Gossip - The Mohawks and the Greasers


I had coffee yesterday with emerging tango organizer/philanthropist Mr. D to discuss our upcoming evening's endeavor in practica. As always, he had moments of lofty expiation about the state of the tango scene... much of it entertaining if not entirely concinnous with my own. I have opinions - oh trust me - most of which I keep discretely held to my bosom, because sometimes those opinions might not be elegantly worded to avoid umbrage by associated parties. Most of mine are tempered an benign, though. What I love, yet what makes me similarly wary, about Mr. D is that he is one of those self-styled straight talkers, who cares not a whit who hears what unvarnished "truths" he has to share.  It worries me to hear more strident ones, largely because of the powder keg of the community. But, as I've said, it's also entertaining.

Oh the drama and passion of it all
 - or am I tripping? Could never decide

His most cherished conspiracy theory of sorts has to do with the Seattle "greasers and mohawks" as he calls them. Our fair hamlet saw a brief influx of milonguero-types from down south, due to extensive marketing efforts by another local teacher with unparalleled networking talents. I am not sure if we have become the jewel of the Northern corner of Washington and a natural meeting point between Seattle and Vancouver scenes, but I am certain that we are at least on the map for one event a month or so with certain far-flung cliques. It appears that we have more enduring amity with the Canadian dancers, perhaps because it just seems appropriate to "go South" for tango, and it certainly is far more the vogue to haul it to Portland if you're a Seattleite. But I digress. 

The Greasers and Mohawks. They're not exclusively Seattleites, although Mr. D liberally refers to them as such. The central figures, in fact, appear to be Canucks. But here's the theory on these blokes: they wanna get laid. Preferably by the few hot young tango organizers who bejewel our fair hamlet, but they're not too particular if the youthful ship sails. Mr. D bemoans the benighted women of a certain (middle-to-mature) age who are taken in by these draguers, and begin to believe that they are loved for their dancing. In the throes of adulation, these poor women apparently throw themselves into sheer reverie over sleazy fellas biding their time to make some moves of the less vertical variety. At other times, the same genre of "Seattle" snob will reportedly (and, ok, I can attest to this strain) trash and dash at their own events down south, chastising the same benighted women for their errant violations of milonguero dogma, but this is another vein of rant. The particular rant about greasers and mohawks has far more to do with the invasion of our community and cuckolding of local leads by well-heeled weasels. Mr. D can only sit back and watch, and perhaps warn, which he has done gravely to those who stand in the firing line.

Admittedly, cerrtain fluids being exchanged
(we call it sweat, baby)

At this point in the narrative, I felt the need to let him in on the dirty little secret that when I began dancing I was somewhat aware of the fact that my popularity with men of a certain age had more to do with my figure than my figures, my legs than my leg-work, and my youth than my grace; and that I was ok with this because it was a mutually beneficial situation. Men got to dance with a pretty giggling girl who lacked sufficient context to judge or recognize their shortcomings, and I got a lot of practice. When I clued into the context enough to judge, I maybe suspended judgment and let myself learn from that as well, as my plodding paired with a pretty smile became increasingly acceptable for higher and higher eschelons of skilled dancers. By my philosophy, by the time my physical charms not longer drew men across the room, my talent and skill would leave me nonetheless indispensable. More or less, this has proven true. Mr. D commented that he had heard hinted a similar attitude from another woman that he had warned, and perhaps it was he who was naive.

I will note, just as a matter of disagreement, that I found the Seattle tango community to be relatively asexual. I had many invitations to practice and frankly they all were just that. I had numerous on-the-floor flirtations and dance-crushes, but the bridge between that seven minute affair on the floor and what comes after was never crossed there. I suspect that for many, it would have undermined a sense of legitimacy. When dancers begin focusing on getting good, they may quite emphatically eschew vestiges of "social dancing," particularly the meat-market component. From what I had seen, using the dance to gain sexual favors appeared to be considered a faux pas likely to diminish one's standing and potential for future consideration. There is a fervent distinction between "sexual" and "sensual" made by those concerned about these things.



For my own part, I eventually understood that "going there" with a good lead meant potentially endangering the connection on the dance floor - much like actualizing the potential inherent in a fiesty flirtation endangers the ebullience of untapped possibility. And going there with a poor lead, of course, meant limiting oneself to far too many less pleasant dances. I suspect others in the community believed this as well.    

A friend of mine recently had such an experience (just to supplement my theoretical point with a practical anecdote, no doubt). There was a charming and talented girl with whom he shared flawless connection. Over time, the tandas and tango-talks seemed so fluid that they began to suspect there was a wider basis for the attraction. Although they had yet to take a step outside of floor-flirts, he did offer to accompany her on a weekend trip. They both appeared to suspect the trip would be the breakthrough moment between them. It was not, because, as it turns out they find each other incredibly dull. The silences were awkward and the nothings were not so sweet. Since they returned, they have barely spoken and rarely dance together any more. It's a bit of a Schrodinger's cat situation of dance floor connections: it's quite possible that by checking if there is something more you could destroy the entire *something* that could have been there.

Not that entanglements aren't rife in tango generally and quite particularly in other dance forms in Seattle, but it was funny to hear such a contrary perspective. I suggested that perhaps it wasn't sexual conquest but a different sort of conquest - one that either substitutes the intimacy of dancing for that of copulation, or one that enjoys the ego-trip of being a bigger fish in a smaller pond from time to time. I don't think Mr. D agreed with this perspective.

Again - is it love, or did I fall? I can't say. 


At any rate, the coda to the story is that one of these notorious mohawks was supected to have made his way into the bedchambers of his target, but has not been seen so much recently. The conclusion is that the fickle young maiden doffed her paramour and he in turn doffed our community and those poor fawning women Mr. D wishes were less twitterpatted with men of his kind. Things may be changing as a result! Only a matter of time.

In case I had failed to mention, these sorts of rumors and speculations are verdant here and one of the reasons I often sidle to the edge of notice. That and I'm lazy. But I won't say I don't enjoy a good dance-yarn from time to time. Oh the concupiscence of our hungry dancer appetites and the even greater lustiness of our ears for such lurid details!
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