Wednesday 29 February 2012

Natural Experiment: Idiot Research

In the organisation where I work, it appears that (for a given subset at least), we have a Directly Measurable Idiot Factor of roughly 1%. It goes without saying, if you know me at all, that this is better than I expected.

"Idiot" is here defined as the kind of person who hits reply-all when a routine but esoteric administrative request has been accidentally sent to a mailing list 9,187 names long.

Bear in mind that the last idiot to send a reply-all stating "this is not for me" had already had the opportunity to read all of the other 86 replies, plus the original. In the table below, I have not been able to show this deepening of idiocy over time. To protect the guilty, I have not recorded his name. Except in my personal records.

Total number of individuals on mailing list used in error: 9,187.
Total number of reply-all messages received in my inbox: 87.

Idiots to Total: 0.95%.

An attempt to classify the messages:CountDescription of classification
Friendly / baffled / neutral / mildly annoyed idiocy49"Sorry,this request is not for me, I think you have made a mistake ...", "Please remove me from this list", "I am not too sure why I have received this email" ...including blank emails repeating these types
Recursive idiocy25"I'm replying all to say PLEASE STOP replying all!"
Angry idiocy1PLEASE USE CORRECT EMAIL (other individual's email)
Clueless idiocy1"I think someone may have a virus!"
Constructive idiocy2"I can do this if you tell me how", "I have forwarded this to ..."
Attempts at amends for idiocy3Recall messages
Apologies for idiocy1From sender of original message
Opportunistic attention-seeking - basic4Attempted joke, irony, contentless wind-up responses to other idiocy
Opportunistic attention-seeking - advanced1Joke is funny

Friday 24 February 2012

Menuda Milonga

This milonga is around once a month (calendar) in one of two venues - Cranbourne, Dorset, or Ringwood, Hampshire. Organised by Richard Slade and Esther Pellejero. Times vary, and you should check the website for the next event; it may be an evening milonga, 19:30 to 23:30, or in the afternoon from 16:00 till around 20:00.

The Class: There isn't one. This milonga is aimed at people who can already dance, are mostly willing to travel some distance, and want to not be messed about by the DJ.

Layout and Atmosphere: There are two venues. The one I've been to is Cecil Memorial Hall in Cranbourne. It's a lovely village hall with a high A-shaped roof, a stage at the far end, a very good floor. There are French windows along the right hand side as you come in, with yellowish curtains, and there's a large hatch leading to the kitchen. You help yourself to refreshments by walking out of the hall and into the kitchen, but you still have a good view of what's going on in the hall and if you keep an eye out, it's perfectly possible to get a dance while you're making tea or eating a biscuit. Rectangular tables are set around all the walls with dark blue tablecloths. In places you can walk behind them, but not all the way round. The DJ has a table on the stage and there is a smallish, unobtrusive "now playing" display. Lighting is good; the good quality of the hall means light can be high enough for everyone to see properly without revealing anything depressing. The warm wood of the floor and ceiling give the whole room a nice look.

Hospitality: Good. You are greeted with joy and can help yourself to plenty of coffee, tea and biscuity things or similar in the large kitchen. On my first visit there were all sorts of other canapé-like things as well. Clean well-lit loos with extra coathooks are off the entrance hall.

Anyone or anything interesting that turned up or happened: Just social dancing.

What I thought of the DJing: Richard Slade DJd. I really enjoyed it on both visits. Traditional, tandas of 4, milonga and vals in 3s. Happy cortinas, long enough. Richard is fairly new to the DJing and doing a bit of experimentation, so I'm sure there's plenty of room for refinement but there was nothing daft and the most demanding of my partners had only minor quibbles. He seems to be discriminating about which feedback he listens to, which is what you want. There's an unobtrusive display that names the current track over some lovely photos of social dancing.

Getting in: £7. Includes refreshments (tea, coffee and biscuits). Non-dancers free.

Getting there and getting home: You have to drive - directions on the website. I was a passenger with a party starting from Bristol; we left at 12, stopped for an hour's lunch, and arrived at about twenty to four.

The website: Gives you all the essential information on the home page.

How it went:  I had a great time. Partly because I and several of my favourite partners had danced for about seven hours at a party the previous night, so I was still in the zone. And I'd travelled with good company, and there was more meeting us there. But also because it's a really nice milonga.

Most of the people there understood the codes that are published on the website. If you don't agree with them, it doesn't make a lot of sense to go there. It was almost always orderly, with good flow, and really nice. I had one tanda slightly messed up by a zigzagger between lanes (Fresedo does not meld well with the desire to elbow one's neighbour), and some consternation was caused by the arrival of an individual notorious for being extremely tiresome to share a floor with; but Richard stalked him for a while and he started to more or less behave. During the crowded part of the evening there was a bit of standing through the cortinas and blocking the view of people sitting down, but it got less so. I think there were enough chairs for everyone, or almost everyone, to sit down, but that might not have been true at the most crowded stage. I had no difficulty keeping my seat.

Unless you live nearby, it would be a long way to drive on your own if you don't know anybody: it makes sense if you are used to travelling fairly long distances for your tango and you know some of the south-west corridor people who do the same. I know that when I travel for tango, unless there is a temporarily spare leader among my acquaintance (as there was this time) I will probably always have to wait out the first hour while people dance in couples and with people they haven't seen for ages, and this is a nice enough milonga that that's not too annoying. I've been there twice, and on the occasion when I arrived 'cold' I had to work harder to keep a level head, but some of the dances I was waiting for had such lovely balloons attached that the balance of the evening was extremely positive. I was quite happy at the times when I was just sitting in my spot and listening, and there were plenty of people who were nice to watch. It's a beautiful milonga.

Monday 13 February 2012

How to make a heart-shaped boiled egg

For those of you who can use such things.

Anna the Red: How to make a heart-shaped egg

You'll need an egg, a piece of stiffish paper, a chopstick or something roughly the same shape, and two rubber bands. Hat tip Desigrub via Malcolm Eggs.

What Beginners Want? Really?

Every now and then I see remarks vaguely in this form, more often than seems justified by any evidence that I know of:

"I suspect/believe/am sure most beginners were like me/you/her/him and attracted to the big flash moves you see on stage and screen ..."

Well, I wasn't that beginner, and I don't see any grounds for saying "most".

I'd seen a tango performance which wasn't of very high quality, and did include some of that sort of stuff, but what I was attracted to was the way the couple were wearing relatively ordinary clothing, weren't faking cheesy smiles (nor, in that particular case, cheesy fake foreplay) and seemed to be principally concerned with each other rather than the audience or with wiggling around. I had no dance experience, I just wanted to get out and dance. I chose Argentine Tango because even a fairly bad performance looked so much less fake and less flash than any kind of ballroom performance. And I guessed that a social form existed, which I might take up. I had very few preconceptions about what it might be like, except that obviously, as a matter of common sense, it would not be very like the stage form; the whole point of going to classes was to find out.

Maybe "most beginners" are one way or the other, or maybe they are very diverse. You can't just extrapolate your own mind to "most" of a population.

How would you even tell? You could, of course, ask them on Day One, but it seems unlikely to me that they're going to say anything more specific than "I saw X and I thought it was amazing". You can't assume from that, that it was the big flash moves in X that attracted them. When you don't have any dance experience, you don't even perceive anything specific about what sort of moves were done in something you saw. If a particular movement "attracted" you, you don't know why. All you get is some overall emotional effect that X managed to communicate, and this could be almost anything. If you ask someone to articulate that on Day One from a position of total ignorance, you put them on the spot, defending a position, and fix their ideas in a way that is unlikely to be helpful. What's the point?

If most of the people who turn up to a class that's intended as social-style tango, really are unshakeably "attracted to the big flash moves you see on stage and screen", and totally unwilling to consider anything that comes from the real person standing in front of them, I would also want to at least briefly look at how the class was marketed, and who to. Did that just play along with a main-stream-media stereotype, or did it try to say anything else?

Yes, there is lots of stuff out there making people think they want a tango class when really they just want to be on stage. It's possible that this really does totally overwhelm all resistance. That could be the truth. But I'm sceptical. There are lots of different people out there, the ones who didn't turn up as well as the ones who did.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Don't Eat Noodles on the Hong Kong Subway

Language Log is always totally fascinating. Today, Victor Mair's admirably informative post about linguistic aspects of the politics of Hong Kong - a subject I would never otherwise have heard anything about - contains the following aside:

I should mention that Kong's tirade against Hong Kong was prompted by viral videos of a conflict between local passengers on a Hong Kong Metro train and mainlanders who contravened regulations by eating noodles on the subway.
I wonder if it's specifically noodles, or is it eating anything at all that is forbidden on the Hong Kong subway? On the Underground we only have sweet cartoony posters saying "Don't Eat Smelly Food". It would be fairly difficult to eat noodles on the Underground, but I suppose it could be done. Maybe the Hong Kong metro has a smoother ride?

Sunday 5 February 2012

A Rose

A rather old rose, taken with my mother's camera.

Saturday 4 February 2012

The Light Temple

The Light Temple - Saturdays in Shoreditch, 9pm - 2am. Sorry I haven't got around to this one before, it's quite popular, it's just that I can rarely do Saturdays.

The Class: They usually have an beginner or improver-level class with Pablo and Naomi beforehand. Sometimes they have a class with guest teachers.

Layout and Atmosphere: It's dark. There are coloured lights, in a quite large white-walled cuboid space that seems to have been some sort of church, although of an odd shape and orientation. You come in at one side of a large uncurtained stage, and you can sit, or rather nest, on there, with cushions. But you'll be very close to the speakers. The DJ booth is on the other side of that. The opposite side has a gallery, with chairs underneath it, in two pockets, with a closed part between them fronted by small tables and chairs. There are some benches right at the back. There are a few small round tables, and more chairs, along the other two walls. What light there is, varies between blue and red. Cabeceo is feasible if you sit in the right place, know the person fairly well, and have good eyesight, but generally you are more likely to get verbal requests. It has a youngish, excited sort of vibe, and it's not at all difficult for a non-regular to get dances. The floor is good, if slightly sloping towards one corner, and large.

Hospitality: Good. There's a table up in the gallery that serves as a bar. They don't do gin-and-tonic, but a small glass of wine is £4. Water was available at no charge. Sometimes they also have food beforehand, especially in summer. The loos are roomy, well-lit and in good condition - entrance under the gallery.

Anyone or anything interesting that turned up or happened: A couple abandoned the ample space behind me and my partner, cut the corner, and made their way into the very small space between us and the couple in front. After about half a minute, they found that the space so made was insufficient. So he executed a sort of giant soltada without the turn, and gestured in the direction of dance. The couple divided, passed on either side of my friends in front and two other couples, and rejoined each other in the corner beyond, where they remained for some time. I thought that was quite interesting. I don't go there often enough to say for sure how unusual it is.

What I thought of the DJing: Pablo, the regular DJ, plays tandas of 4, with 3s for milonga and vals, and the cortinas are long enough. The DJing is appropriate for the tastes and dance style of most of the regulars. If you like the modern cover versions of things like El Huracán better than the originals, you'll love it; it's not my thing at all. There was a lovely Biagi tanda near the start, and I think a couple of really nice Canaro ones. And a lot of what I classify broadly as Pugliese knockoffs with high sound quality that don't make me want to dance even slightly; but there is a school of thought that really likes this stuff. If you can deduce from my description that that's you, try this venue.

The sound is mainly from two big speakers on the stage, so it is louder when you're close to them, but I had no problems hearing it anywhere, and I think the long curtains hanging from the gallery limit the interference of voice noise.

Getting in: £10 for the class and milonga, £4 for the milonga only. I came in just before the end of the class and I don't actually remember which I was charged. £4 is very cheap for London.

Getting there and getting home: It takes me 12 minutes to walk there from Liverpool Street, or you can hop on a bus for a couple of stops. It's more or less next door to Shoreditch Church. From Liverpool Street, come out of the Bishopsgate exit and walk left. Just follow the road. You'll pass the Light Bar, which is where they have the milonga on Tuesdays, after about six minutes. The place to cross the road is just after you get to the Majestic wine warehouse. Keep following the road till you get to Shoreditch Church, and follow the fence right around. As you do so, you'll make your way through the crowd spilling out from the George and Dragon on the corner, and you'll see a sign on the church fence - follow the arrow down the little street and the entrance is on the left, currently half-concealed by boarded scaffolding, before you get to the residential bit. I'm told parking can be a bit difficult, so you might want to plan for your space if you're driving. But on this evening my friends who were driving had no problems.

Many trains run from Liverpool Street till about 1am, but since this milonga starts rather late, if you like it you will probably want to stay till the end. In that case there are many buses, but keep in mind that a LOT of people try to leave Shoreditch on buses between about half past one and 2am. You may have to wait for an hour or more before one goes past that has space for you. Consider walking back to the bus station at Liverpool Street, which is what I should have done both times this happened to me.

The website: is 100% Flash, but once you get in, it has the information you need. Or use the Facebook Thing for announcements.

How it went: I really like the young cheerful vibe that it has. On all my (few) visits there's been plenty of space, which most of the dancers were keen to make use of. The level of bumps has varied so widely that I can't really say what's normal. It may well depend on the class and the crowd. It is very dark, though. Consider light-coloured or shiny clothing. If you're under the gallery and not in the front row or along the side, you can't really be seen from anywhere else. If you are there, you're very exposed.

If you're inexperienced and you need to get some dances in, then I think it would be fun and fine, especially if you took the class beforehand. You might also be interested in the "L-Plate" milonga specially for beginners in a second room, off the entrance hall. It looked quite nice in there, when I came in - I forgot about it and regretted not investigating further. More experienced dancers have a very good chance of finding agreeable partners if the other aspects suit them.

I'm unlikely to become a regular here because the DJing style doesn't suit me at all, and I'm not crazy about the Shoreditch night bus experience. But I like the youthful feel and the hospitality and the space itself. It's also cheap and accessible. In this case I was there with some friends and stayed to the end, having a very enjoyable evening.

Friday 3 February 2012

Balloons of 2011

Memorable balloons of 2011:

A velvety dark reddish-brown one with a gold ribbon.
Another one almost the same warm colour, but glossy with a grain, like a cello
An absolutely perfectly smooth brilliant matte silver one with a white ribbon
A burnt-orange and yellow pattern of interlocking squares
A black-and-grey spiral pattern with one line of dark red and a curly white ribbon
A pattern of curving stripes in several different blues
Like paisley, but spikier, in shades of brown and ochre with touches of lemon-yellow and white, sort of Aztec paisley.
A very pretty lemon-yellow.
Bright green, like grass in sunshine, with a very long yellow ribbon.

Love to all my dance partners.

I think the colours come partly from the individual, his dress sense, his dance style, and partly from the music of the particular dance.

Thursday 2 February 2012

Guardian Tango Facepalm Point-by-Pointer

I know I should ignore this article in the Guardian. The reader who read to the end would be more ignorant than before. I wouldn't have read it at all, unprompted.

But - well, hell. "--" marks the quotes for RSS feeds.

    --Waiting at the gate  ... I'm making a huge mistake.
We often know when we're making a mistake, we just don't know which one it is, that's the problem. I sympathise.
    --I'm flying to Argentina for a week, on my own, to learn to dance the Argentine tango. ... I haven't danced a choreographed step since 1982
Information: Tango has nothing to do with choreography. If you're dancing choreography, you may be in a stage show about tango, but you're not dancing tango. Unfortunately, readers won't learn that in this article. Also: a week?
--The only things I know about Argentina are that it's very far away, we went to war .. I saw a film where their king appeared to be Jimmy Nail ... the Argentine tango (I've checked with YouTube) is a complex dance, built on instinct, litheness and a non-coy Latin American attitude to sensual proximity to strangers.
The fair reading is probably "no clue for me, no clue for you, exotic, kinky, doesn't matter, I'm ok you're ok". It's annoying to see something interesting that I care about talked about in this timewasting, information-free way, but it's a bit self-centred of me to get upset about that.

Remarks about the British, the English, Argentinians and Latin Americans througout the article, contribute a lot to its air of extreme vapidity. But they add nothing else, so I will try to refrain from picking them up.
    -- Grab me without permission and I go rigid ....
Grab me without permission in the dancehall and you'll get a fucking volcano. Dancing is consensual, it has nothing to do with assault. If it does, change your teacher.
    --His website is full of shots of women chucking their ankles over his shoulders ....
That might have given you a hint or two that he wasn't a great choice if you wanted to learn to dance rather than pose and look like a fool. But I see this was a package deal, so you didn't have any say in the matter.
    -- "I feel a bit like crying," I confess pathetically to the Argentinian businessman ...
So it did give you that hint; but because you think that this is what tango is, you've ignored the accurate information coming from a bit deeper down in your brain. I congratulate you on the good instincts, but not on the research quality or the final decision.
    -- "Oh, don't worry," he says, unfazed. "Everyone cries in Argentina. You'll fit in well. We're very dramatic people."
Diplomatic answer. Good man.
    --As it turns out, I do fit in rather well. Buenos Aires is beautiful, hot and glamorous, and the malbec is plentiful enough to make me feel roughly similar.
Sounds very nice. My Argentinian colleague from "It's Somewhere Up In The Mountains" tells me that Buenos Aires has the greatest number of plastic surgeons and psychiatrists per head anywhere in the world. I just throw that in. [HEDGEHOG! stop being nasty. There was no need for that. They're probably doing half their business with foreigners. Oh.]
   --the suites are enormous, with showers that fit at least a dozen people ... and attended to by 24-hour butlers.
Sounds comfy; a ripoff if your goal was learning to dance, but since it isn't, it just sounds really comfy. I don't think I'll stay there when I go, though.
    --The weather ... the Campo Argentine del Polo ... Jilly Cooper.
The climate in those months does sound appealing. As for the rest of this paragraph, here is what I think it means:

"I'm in character as an airhead, so you can't possibly expect anything correct or informative from me. This article is nonsense, nothing in it matters, and if it annoys you, you have only yourself to blame for reading it."

Fair point. Why's it in the Guardian? And it matters to me.
    --Take a tolerant credit card
Mm-hm. (Wait. You're borrowing to do this? No, stop, this is not that rant. It does add to the general impression of eagerness to be ripped off, though. Telling us how much you needed would have been informative).
    -- flat shoes for shopping  ... stretchable fabrics ... steaks, brioche-based pies and cocktails ... mosquitos ...
    --And definitely, definitely try to learn tango.
Learn tango. Maybe what's going on here is that in her mind, "dance" self-evidently equals a choreographed stage performance for an audience. So, a bad lookalike of a stage performance equals 'tango' for the non-professional. Therefore, given that it's totally unimportant and she's pretending to be an airhead, she has 'learned tango' - completing all that can possibly be expected of her in that direction. Actual tango, tango de salon as they say, is not something whose existence can be suspected or imagined. This is an error I've discussed before. But it's really not clear, and perhaps I overanalyse.
    -- On day one of lessons ... wearing my stupid tango shoes ...
Somebody has been selling something here. And somebody has been buying it. It includes at least some shoes.
    -- ... Carlos seems to sense I'm going to be trouble from the moment he explains that tango is a dance where the man leads, the man makes all the decisions ...
Oooh, aren't you special. Information: to master the woman's part of any led-and-followed partner dance in the very varied family of traditional European-style partner dances where the man's part includes leading, you have to first learn to follow.

If you have a conscientious objection to the idea of anyone following, or to the following being (mostly and traditionally) done by women, that's a good reason to leave. This dance is unsuitable for you. It's not a good excuse to do it anyway and be bad at it on purpose. That's just insulting to all the other dancers.
    --and that – unless you want to be seen as either insane or a sex-crazed harpy – a woman never suggests a dance and monitors her eye contact with men.
I can't tell how much of this is the writer and how much is Carlos, who sounds pretty awful so far. Information: Practice varies, but women do 'suggest' dances, although there are good reasons not to if you can't dance. Monitoring your eye contact in certain ways and contexts is necessary, because it's used in the process of selecting and agreeing dances. It's quite complex and interesting stuff, too long to go into here.
--"Pghhhgh," I say, a sound of feminist dissent I find is usually understood in all languages.
In the circumstances, you are hardly in a position to articulate a thought-out feminist critique, so perhaps this one is fair enough to both parties, as far it goes. I'm sure he deserves it, and no doubt it panders agreeably to his prejudices, too, so everybody's happy and no harm's done.
--We begin with "the basic step",
Information: There's no basic step in tango in the same sense that there is for salsa or samba or 'back on five' jive. This has been written about interminably elsewhere, but to summarise, the so-called 'basic 8' is a traditional teaching method. In my opinion, it's the worst. A lot of Argentinian teachers use it. It requires no thought from teacher or student, it produces a brief illusion of progress and really bad beginners, it's not surprising to see it used here, and there's no point in discussing it further.
-- ... the one that carries two people round a dancefloor clockwise ...

Information: Movement of the couple around the dancefloor would of course be anticlockwise, like all other progressive dances for the ballroom. A friend points out that what she probably means here is that the "basic step," as described, produces a small clockwise movement for the couple. The lessons probably don't include any reference to an actual dancefloor or a line of dance containing other people.
--... What I can't do is let Carlos lead while I wrap around him, pulling a distant, yet vaguely lustful expression ...
There is some disagreement in the facebook comments as to the literal meaning of this sentence. Is it our correspondent, or is it Carlos pulling the 'distant, yet vaguely lustful' expression? People dancing actual tango generally look like they're enjoying it, although they also look like they're in the moment and concentrating quite hard.  They're not pulling silly faces for an audience. But of course, there's no reason to think that either of these people are enjoying anything, and we should remember that there's no actual tango here; the goal is, as we learn later, to make a photograph in which someone looks as though they might be doing something that people who have never actually seen tango, think tango looks like.

I repeat; if you are going to dance tango, you'll need to learn to follow, or lead, or both. If you have a problem with that, partner dance is not for you.
     --He seems furious at even the slightest hint of authority in my body language.

Information: Authority in the woman's (follower's) body language is a very good thing. I don't like the sound of this guy at all, but it's possible that the 'furious' is frustration at having failed to communicate the concept of following, which has nothing to do with authority or body language. Given what we've learned about the class so far, I'm not surprised by that failure. The writer's imagination, in trying to make sense of it all, may have produced a misunderstanding about body language. Or, her understanding of what he's teaching may be totally fair and accurate. I hear Carlos is "no fool", but that's not the same thing as being any good.
     --"Tranquilo," he says, 275 times in the first lesson. I'm supposed to be looking into his eyes,
To use them as rear-view mirrors, maybe? This is progressive dance, he should have his eyes on the road. The only place it makes sense for the partners to make eye contact is on the stage, and it's for the benefit of the audience, not each other. But these are technicalities.
    --or have my head tucked sensuously into his neck. To me, this feels wrong. In Britain, the only time someone touches you so tenderly, they're either your official "other half", someone you're about to get off with, or you're being sexually molested.
This was used in isolation as the lede, and so is probably the paragraph where tango people feel most disgusted. On reflection: helping people to overcome temporary awkwardness with a close embrace is an important part of teaching beginners tango. This teaching clearly hasn't even tried to do that. If you don't want to overcome it, tango is not for you, you won't be able to do it well. The elision between holding someone 'tenderly' and them being 'molested', is revolting. It insults my dance, it insults my nationality, and it insults my intelligence.
     -- So how come everyone else at tango school just gets on with it? I can't unlearn decades of social conditioning overnight, but I had better bloody well try ...
Exactly. Good point. Getting over this silly, trivial, basically imaginary problem could take, oh, tens of minutes. At least. Once you've decided to do it. As I said, I don't get the impression that this tourist-tat class in crap show-tango is helping. Oh, they have some backup, though:
    --Carlos's son, Maxi ... long periods of making me gaze into his eyes and hum along to the music, so we are "sensing the rhythms in each other's bodies".
EYES ON THE ROAD, Maxi. But wait - have his good looks assisted in communicating some part of what you were supposed to do?
    --dancing with someone so gorgeous ... whisking me around the floor like a compliant rag doll makes things much jollier.
Oops, no. Compliant rag doll - still no following going on. He's just muscling through it, apparently. Well, Maxi, I'm sure the publicity will be worth it. Did you have to 'dance' with any of the other students? Thought not.

Now we come to the accidentally-swallowing-a-truthgrain bit.
    --A small flash of tanguero spirit takes hold – the music,
Good, isn't it?
    --the flamboyance, the leg kicks,
Oops. Information: Flamboyance is for stage shows, it's part of what makes them so boring and clichéd. As for kicks, it's not possible in one week to have learned the technique that would produce a real boleo, which is what kicks fake. It is slightly more complicated than that, but not in a way that matters here. No kicks on the dancefloor, please. Thank you. And now we know for sure: this is a shit class for gullible tourists.
    -- ... the ability to grab a stranger and dance for four minutes emitting the vibes that you're wildly in love, then turn on a heel and walk off. Suddenly, it all begins to make more sense.
Dancing tango is ridiculously enjoyable. Partner dances generally are - this is not news - see Jane Austen. Tango delivers particularly well, because it's all about making a certain kind of short-lived music-based physical and mental connection that is a lot of fun. The vibes part is in the Not Even Wrong class - what you should be doing is not bad acting, it's dancing. But the truth of how that's done is complex, interesting, and would not fit in the box provided. And it's normally nearer twelve minutes, unless something has gone badly wrong.
  -- let go, float above your British worry and shame ... tango will grip you like a fever.
I said I wouldn't pick these up.
    --By day three, the tutors roar with glee as I dance rather proficiently, pulling the trademark Argentinian face ....
    -- I take group lessons, solo lessons and technical classes that explain precisely what muscle should be working where and when.
Fair enough, it won't do you any harm.
    -- By day five, I think nothing of venturing out into the rush hour traffic to dance with Carlos for a photoshoot.
Oh, this was the goal? A photoshoot? There isn't going to be an an actual dance, for instance? Eurrrrgh. But, perhaps wise. This is where people who actually dance tango reach for the sick bag, and think - please stay away from us. Posers are the worst.

On the other hand, I am a fairminded woman. This is London, and posers are not rare. If what you want to do is pose, rather than dance, I can suggest at least one place in London, on every week, where you will find quite a few likeminded people. Please email me. Just bear in mind that if you wanted to dance, I would make very different suggestions.
    --I don't care, and the passersby don't, either. ...
If I saw this every week, as they do, I think I would do as they do. Pass by.
    -- I miss Buenos Aires desperately. My tango shoes sit expectantly under my bed... now with a tiny touch of tanguero madness lying dormant in my soul.
Calm down, Hedgehog!  This is mere fluff.

Let's put the prickles down, and try to look at this rationally.

What's the harm?

It was only a week. Even if she does join the London scene, which is unlikely, she's got at least some chance of turning out perfectly fine. So leave that aside.

It's annoying to have all this wrong information in a popular newspaper. It was a lost opportunity to have some right information in a popular newspaper. Good teachers despair as they try to induce people to stop posing and pulling ridiculous faces, or unlearn horrible kicks. It makes them cry if a small class gets overwhelmed with posers who will never connect with their partner, because they only want an audience.

It's a crying shame if the tender, imaginative, musical, thoughtful and hard-working people who would soon dance beautifully, with wonderful connection, feel fabulous to dance with, and be real additions to the scene, are kept away by this violence of ideas.

But let's imagine a reader of this article who actually joins a beginners class local to them.  Maybe what has influenced that possible student is the tiny grain of truth in the article, plus real curiosity and a  dose of scepticism. That student - with the curiosity and scepticism and the unwillingess to be ripped off - has potential, and everyone's happy. After all, you don't have to know anything about tango to infer from this article that a gullible tourist got played. My mate the Random Cyclist spotted that in the first four lines.

The influence of the teacher will matter far more than the contents of the article. I think it's a mistake when teachers ask new students why they came, and I think the wise student should prepare a vague and uninformative answer for any such question, as I did before my very first class.

Apart from the poor bloody teachers, what really upsets people about this - misinformation - is the reflection on themselves. Realistically, for most of us, that's a minor nuisance unless you work with a jerk who knows you dance tango and won't shut up.
    ---Seven nights at Algodon Mansion, including five private lessons at Tango Escuela Carlos Copello, three group classes and a Rojo Tango show, starts from £3,200pp, including return flights with British Airways.
Wow. That's a lot of money. The total fees at market rates in London for the same amount of teaching would be about £230-£300. For that you could get much higher quality, if you were lucky or did a bit of research first.
    --WIN: Belly-dancing lessons in Morocco.

I think I'll give that a swerve.

Information: Here is a video of people dancing argentine tango de salon - tango-vals, technically, in this case - on a small floor in southern Germany.