The Tango Pseudo-Connoisseur


Have you ever known a person who becomes a “connoisseur” of wine?  Often that person seems unhappy with most of the wine he or she drinks. The connoisseur has too often learned to be mostly unhappy.  Isn’t that ironic?

The majority of the red fluid in this picture is not wine:
It’s the fluid your and your friends’ hearts pump.

The path to becoming “one who knows” (from Old French: connoisseur) starts with drinking just any ol’ wine. Then slowly taste discrimination comes along. Later, the risk grows that fewer and fewer wines will be as satisfying as they once were.

“The one who knows” perhaps may not know the most important thing about wine: It isn’t the red stuff in the glass; it’s the quality of people with whom you share wine that is important. It’s their lives, their flesh and blood in your life that matters most. Along the way, wine, or tango, or music sometimes no longer satisfies the “one who knows” who has become impersonal in their “knowing.” Unfortunately this pseudo-connoisseur has learned so much it has them standing alone with the thing they know.

Perhaps the Spanish version of the Old French word, connoisseur, conocer, can give us some insight about the difference between the pseudo-connoisseur and the true connoisseur:   Conocer is personal knowing.  Saber is impersonal knowing.  So the question, “Do you know [sabe] who that person is?” is answered with saber if you know who the person is.  However if you know her personally, you use conocer:  “Sí, la conozco.”  [Yes, I know her personally.]  If someone asks you, ¿Conoces Buenos Aires?  The answer is “no” if you have never walked her streets or met her people.

People, Presentation, Sustainability
Knowing personally is the antidote against poisoning your wine, your tango or your music appreciation. I try to focus on the larger picture.  A true connoisseur knows the larger meaning of sharing wine. It may be a profoundly religious moment. It may be a celebration of a new love or very old friendship. Isn’t it the same way with tango and other beautiful things in life?  A step in the right direction is to be a true connoisseur of taste in three things around the thing you love:  People, presentation and sustainability.   In wine, it would be a good-tasting wine, shared with quality people, and the excellent presentation of the wine at your gathering.  Finally, can this be sustained?  Can you afford to do this again?  In tango, it is tango-talent (as the thing “to know”), plus people with culture and depth whom you know.  A milonga with great music, lighting and a decent floor is the presentation.  Finally, can this be sustained?  Did you ruin your feet or your pocketbook?

If you are out dancing just to be a walking encyclopedia of steps and to dance with only the best, you are probably on the the path to be unhappy with nearly every partner at a milonga.  It is all too impersonal.

I am not suggesting, ladies, that you drink cheap wine! I understand that you have the right to be picky.  Save your feet.  Avoid the guy who doesn’t bathe.  Turn away your gaze from the tango tomcat.  I understand why this must be done:  Dancing with men who jerk you around, step on your feet, and make you and your clothes reek is not sustainable!

If I hold a beginner or any person with reverence and I am open to being present, I “hear” the story of a human being in front of me and that somehow harmonizes with the music in a very special way.  I believe that is what truly brings you back to tango over and over.  Keep doing this.  You will be blessed with many great tandas.

I have learned this wisdom from tango more than anything else in my life.  I want to be a true connoisseur.  I want to be present with the person with whom I can share my wine, my tango, my music, my time.  I truly want to be the “one who knows.”

Embracing the moment is tango.  It’s life.


Image result for mark word tango

Mark Word

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