Thursday, August 17, 2006

Nice. Good.

Today at Real Job I was talking with a friend about one of his friends, D, an actor. D had a new batch of headshots, and we were trying to pick the close-up that looked least like an ad for herpes medication.

"Is he a good actor?" I asked, scanning the thumbnail pictures. Eighty-five poses, red shirts and black shirts, sitcom-friendly smiling and pensive staring. All of them begged for captions like, "I'm calm, because I'm regular."

My friend nodded. "He's good, yeah. He's nice." He pointed to a half-smiling close-up. "This one is good! It doesn't look like he's trying, and it's his trademark blue. I like this one."

Nice. Good.

I want to put more attitude in my dance. Then, at least if I suck, I will suck and mean it. I used to be a badass, once upon a time, but I walked into tango like it was a customer service job, and now I find myself being too nice because being myself would cost me dances.

At this point, I'm willing to take my chances with my bad attitude.

My trademark, such as it is (a red coat with a high collar, like a film-noir Riding Hood out to get the wolf who done her wrong) doesn't work for tango, and anything else makes me feel like a fraud. If I get a trademark it will have to come slowly. Still, I hear the nicknames and I see people's signature looks, and sometimes it hurts to know that I will see certain people walk into a milonga from across the room, because his shirt or her shoes are so distinctive. 'Porn Librarian,' as a rule, has no translation in the tango world, except "Nice."

Nice. Good.

I hear that a lot. We'll do a move and whoever's running the class will say, "Good." I know it's not true. Half of the people in any tango class are hopeless, and the other half aren't good yet. It's why we're all in the class; because we're not good. Don't lure us into self-esteem unless it's beautiful.

We had a big name visiting this week for classes; my class partner was the gentleman who had danced with Paicas and myself. The teacher demonstrated the move, and we executed it. I mean "executed" in a very literal sense; neither of us fell over and we ended up in the right spot, but it was done without any style, any musicality, any passion. We just completed all the little steps that made up the mechanics of the move.

My partner called the big name over and asked how best to pivot me into position; the big shot demosntrated twice beside my partner, then took me to demonstrate. It was feather-light, and I pivoted so fast I nearly dislodged my glasses.

"Good," said the big shot, and I knew he was lying.

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