Book Review: Enjoy Getting the Dances You Want : Filling in the Blanks of Argentine Tango

Published March 1st 2018
Author: Chris

Title: Enjoy Getting the Dances You Want : Filling in the Blanks of Argentine Tango

Author: Oliver Kent

Pages: 231

Published: June 2017

ISBN: 9781521461044

Link to Amazon

An informative read that gives the reader an explanation of many of the disambiguates of the tango scene.

The author, Oliver Kent, over the course of 14 chapters uses the frame of “getting the dances you want” to explain the social interactions that often occur in the Argentine Tango scene. This book is not a history of Argentine Tango, or a guide to the styles of Argentine Tango, but instead is an observation of the people and events that take place and can occur as part of a Milonga.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the book comes in the first 50 pages, in which the different types of people who dance tango are discussed. Kent defines four types of tango dancer, namely, competitive (nothing to do with competition dancers), nurturing, co-operative and free spirted, and presents a detailed explanation of what each type of dancer wishes and believes in tango. As I said this is very interesting and gives a very good insight into the people you will meet through your tango journey.

The book continues with an entertaining discussion, using witty language, of examples from experience, theoretical situations and references psychological studies to explain Milongas. Chapters include arriving at Milonga, the stages of milongas and how to use them to your advantage and asking people to dance which includes a very comprehensive description of the forms of cabeceo as well as other methods of asking. There are also examples of how to position and present yourself in order to allow yourself to be asked to dance or indeed not to be asked, as well as example dialogs of possible conversations in order to introduce yourself, easing awkward moments and even how to turn down a dance in manners that are not offensive. There is also an interesting look at how to ask for dances during the cortina.

The author throughout goes to great length to point out that there are no right and wrong ways to do things in Tango and is never judgmental of the range of practices that a commonly seen in Milongas. This includes birthday vals, performances, and what to do when you have accepted a dance.

Finally the author gives some very good advice on reflecting on Milongas and events that you have attended. He encourages positive thought patterns to prevent you from interpreting events in a negative way which could cause problems in the future. He also suggests a third way of thinking of milongas beyond the two definitions that most tango dancers have i.e. the social dance event or one of three dances.

Overall the book is well structured and is easy to read with a writing style that is conversational that makes it worthwhile addition to any tango library. For beginners it gives an insight into a world they are about to enter, for experienced dancers it offers a refreshing look at something that might have been routine and for teachers/event organisers it acts as a good reminder of how those attending could be feeling.

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