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Kicking up a stink at a milonga,personal freshness,intimacy in dance

I’m kicking up a stink…

I think I may be becoming an angry old man, which is odd when I come to realise how patient I have become and how laid back about so many other things in life that used to annoy me. Traffic on the roads, standing in queues, having to wait for items to be posted to me; all that sort of thing rarely phases me. So, what is it about some milongueros that winds me up? How they dress, that’s what. OK, so I admit to having a very old-fashioned take on what a Milonga is about. For some of us it is a party, so we dress up accordingly. We make ourselves ready to have a good time. In fact, we start having the sense of heightened awareness, even excitement, as we get ourselves ready. For an evening Milonga, for example, I’ll have my second shave of the day. She spends a significant amount of time doing her hair and nails and asking me whether she should wear those shoes with that dress. I concern myself about nose hairs and consider which aftershave and how much to use. How is my breath? After all, how will my body come across to a woman in my embraceIt’s a ritual and we enjoy it. We certainly don’t put fresh clothes onto day-dirty bodies.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m going out with my wife of many years and plan to come home with her. This is not us preparing for a wife-swop party. We’re not ‘on the pull’. We would go through the same ritual going out to the opera or to friends for a dinner party. We are making the most of what we are, and through the evening we will attempt to boost our status not reduce it by antisocial behaviour. I won’t fight the other men and she won’t get drunk and say things she knows are inappropriate. And vice versa. We raise our game and support each other’s raised game. I’ll tell the same jokes she has heard for years and she will laugh politely or kick me, secretly, under the table. In short, we will not lower our reputation if we can’t actually enhance it. Neither are we putting up a show far from the reality. We are projecting the real us at our level best.

So, what is with these slobs who pitch up in jeans and B.O.? Why have they just left work as a scaffolder or fish fryer and come directly here? Do they think there is something attractively macho about work clothes and stale sweat? Have they no sense of occasion? Do they equate an evening at the milonga with being at a football match? Actually, of course, before they go to the match, they put the club side T shirt on so probably that ranks more highly than taking a woman into their arms.

It does make me wonder whether Tango men in particular come in two broad categories; woman lovers and woman haters. They can both be a bit of a curse in Tango society but I’d suggest that the woman lover can be managed if he oversteps the mark, even with a knee in the groin. The woman hater is a lost cause. He sees his partner as someone who can only be manipulated and isn’t to be trusted. I suppose his entire philosophy is based upon fear, including fear of rejection. Now, the saddest thing for me in all this is that women continue to dance with such men. One of the great advantages of living with a powerful woman is that she will tell you what she likes and doesn’t. I accept that it’s galling when she licks her hanky and wipes a smut off your face in public but at least you know where you are with her. If she tells you you’re OK, you can trust that, simply because she’s all too capable of telling you when you’re not. Remember my reference to nose hairs? Listen Chaps, they don’t like them. As a rule, they hate beards too. Unless your embracing woman actually tells you she prefers you unshaven, my friend, trust me, they don’t like them. How do I know that? I’ve asked them. Guess what? If I’m clean-shaven, they are simply, mono-syllabically adamant about it. If, I have grown a beard, they soft-pedal. All except my wife who withdraws even kisses while the monster flourishes. Be warned.

Those with wives and daughters will agree another thing; women’s sense of smell is much more powerful than a man’s, particularly at some phases of their monthly cycle. Don’t dispute it chaps; just do the right thing. Wash, including your hair, twice as frequently as you think you need. Use dental floss and Listerine at least before a Milonga. Do not imagine dousing yourself in perfume is any substitute; it makes it a whole lot worse. No, there’s nothing for it, lads. A shower, a shave, deodorant, floss, mouthwash,and a teensy weeny squirt of aftershave if you absolutely must. When in doubt, don’t. Trust me on this. Lingering soap smell will do very nicely for several hours. Your ghastly choice of excessive, cheap, stale because rarely-used Paco Rabanne is as delectable as B.O. Unless you have a wife you can trust in this matter, do not, under any circumstance, trust your own nostrils. Think only this. I want to smell nice for the woman I’m dancing with and she’s not a man.

It works both ways. I’m a tall bloke so, through an evening, I get to smell a lot of women’s hair products. Some I absolutely detest. There is one woman who thinks dry shampoo works and another who uses a deeply offensive lacquer. It may hold her hair in place but the smell is enough to drown out the band. And the underarms! Think about it. They hold theirs exposed, at least on the right side. There’s that awful smell of anxiety reminiscent of fried onions. My hat! The worst offenders are those who imagine that there is something non-ecological about conventional deodorants and use those rocks. Now, we all sweat and underarm fluids contain fats which are then denatured by bacteria. Using an anti-perspirant reduces the water flow but unless we attempt to kill or slow up the bugs, the smell will eventually appear. Hey! Why not nip off occasionally and use a baby wipe to refresh? I do, and that means a lot more stripping than a lady in a halter neck. In the summer, when we all sweat, why not take a change of shirt?

My main ire is reserved for the guys who seem to make no effort whatsoever. They wear casual clothes with no attempt to mark the occasion as special. The clothes are often enough the same clothes as their daywear and could use a wash, as could they themselves. These are the same blokes who, may I tell you ladies, go for a pee and can’t be bothered to wash their hands afterwards. Oh yes! Something like 30% of all men can’t face the taps after a pee. I have seen them in motorway service stations adjust their hair in the mirror before leaving but wash? No.

Then, there are the shoes. Oh yes, women love their heels and there is no doubt the higher the heel the more attractive the posture. In addition, the entire tricky business for a milonguera of walking backwards elegantly is so much easier with a heel. I know, I’ve tried it. For a man, it’s a little different but I simply cannot understand men who dance in street shoes. To begin with, they bring in dirt and grit from outside to ruin the dance floor surface. Rarely do street shoes have the sort of sole that works well on a polished dance floor when you need to grip one moment and pivot the next. Proper dance shoes do. The most vital difference between ordinary shoes and dance shoes is the welt. Dance shoes have no welt. Very soft uppers meet the soles without a nasty sharp piece protruding. Why does this matter? Well, if you slide your foot past a woman’s calf, as for a sacada or to receive a gancho, for example, a welt could easily scrape her shin. Why on earth would you want to do that?  In comparison, the dance shoe is more forgiving of your innate clumsiness. It’s more like a glove. Best of all, it has rested and died since last weekend and is fresh, whereas your street brogue is moist and smelly. One of the most pretentious Milongueros I know steadfastly refuses to wear a dance shoe. What arrogance!  Even if he were that poor or his feet were so vast, there are unbelted street shoes to be bought. And crepe soles? How can you pivot in those? Oh, you don’t pivot then? Hmmm, it’s Tango, but not as we know it, Jim!

I used to laugh at people wearing the so-called correspondent shoes, you know the ones? Black and white, usually, though I am always more attracted to brown and white. I don’t own any but I do have a pair of crocodile and navy blue, made out of an old handbag my mother gave me. Carrying a handbag never suited me anyway! While such shoes may well be pretentious, they at least demonstrate a committment to dance and to a certain extent to the Tango mythology and they don’t have welts. Sadly, those wearing such flashy shoes that say ‘look at me, everyone’ rarely are worth watching. You’d be wasting your time watching me, for sure, but I do smell wonderful. I always pass the wife test..

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