Thursday, July 31, 2008

Colours and Tango

I have a cold, in the middle of a hot summer. I hate that. Apart from other things I had been looking forward to, like having picnics in the park, swimming in a lake, throwing dinners, mingling with the tourists in the lantern-lit medieval streets of the city centre on warm summer nights or sitting on the ramparts of the castle overlooking the river and the city, I shall also have to stay away from the milongas for a while. On the bright side, I have the time to read tango blogs. And so, sitting here and sipping mate (as a universal panacea), I came upon an interesting post of Debbi´s where, among other things, she mentions being told that always dressing in dark coulours makes her ´invisible´ at a milonga.
Hmm... I read the numerous comments and started writing one but then realized it would be too long, so I decided to write a post instead.

Should you wear bright colours to a milonga, in order to be seen?

The question had never occured to me before. But then again, I do dress in bright coulours, both in and out of the milongas. Not to be seen; I just like them. And I think there isn´t much of them around. Our culture, in this age, tends to avoid bright colours rather than encourage them. For some reason there is this widespread belief that to look good and cool, black is the best choice. I don´t know. I, too, like black, sometimes. But too much is.. too much. Why don´t we wear colours?
I love the clothes worn by the women in African neighbourhoods, the vivid colours and beautiful textures like brocade that they wear with such grace. I do realize that not everyone can get away with such colours, but then again, the various combinations of grey, brown or navy blue are not particularly flattering, either.

Colour preferences are, of course, very subjective. I like surrounding myself with colours, they make me feel good, and I like exploring different colour combinations; among my favourites there´s orange with bright white, apple-green with black, pale violet with silver, and, my latest fancy, bright red with dark purple. The only drawback is that such clothes can only be worn with black shoes. Now, the last time I wanted to buy simple black tango shoes, I came back with these:

Yep. You get the idea.
They are called Las ondas amarillas and it was love at first sight; but they can only be worn with black, which I find rather limiting.

And so I do, sometimes, dress in black to go dancing. And, frankly, I haven´t noticed any marked difference in the number of invitations I get.
It is a pity no man commented on this aspect of Debbi´s post, but it seems to confirm my theory:
From my experience most men, starting with my brother and including friends and lovers, are fairly conservative as far as fashion is concerned. My understanding has always been that I dress up in crazy colour combinations in spite of men, rather than for them. Let me explain - they like it, of course; but if I actually asked them whether I should put on a black skirt or a bright orange one, 9 men out of 10 would go for the black one. Luckily I am not so foolish as to ask a man´s advice in matters of clothing, so I will just put on the orange one, because it suits my mood, and get an admiring look with ´You look so lovely today!´.
Men. :)
I think it is best to dress for yourself, even if, obviously, you are going to a milonga to be invited (ergo: liked) by others; because after all, if you feel good, and beautiful, you come across as beautiful. And if someone likes your dancing, they will probably notice you even if you´re all in black.


Caroline said...

Love the shoes...this whole thing about dressing in colours to attract attention, why is it that it's always male animals who are more vividly coloured than the females and yet amongst humans, it is seemingly the other way around? Something to ponder.

msHedgehog said...

It depends on the animal. All Chromodoris elisabethina are both male and female, and they look like this.

I sometimes wear black, but not very often. In dark places I don't think it influences whether people ask, but it might influence whether they notice me at all.

I think you could wear those shoes with any of the colours on them :D

Johanna said...

I have never seen any evidence where what I wear makes a difference in the number of times I get asked to dance.

I think it is far more important to be friendly and say hello to a lot of people when I arrive. If they want to dance with me, they know I'm there, no matter what I'm wearing.

David said...

If a milonga is very dark, then yes, dark clothes will tend to make you blend into the shadows. But over the period of the milonga I will usually notice most of the women there because it's the faces that I notice first rather than the clothing (unless the clothing is very revealing!).

For me it's the friendly greetings and smiling faces that get noticed first, and that generate the desire to ask for a dance with someone.

one2tango said...

Thanks, Caroline:)´re right, that IS strange.. it looks as if it were us trying to get their attention, and not the other way around..? Hmmmm...
MsHedgehog and David: I suppose that a person dressed in black might not be the first one you notice in the crowd in a dark room.. but then again, when you are looking for a dance partner, you tend to look at their feet, don´t you? and, of course, the face:)))
Btw a violet top actually looks very nice with those shoes, but it must be separated from them by a black skirt/trousers.. I wouldn´t risk any of the other colours though:)
Johanna, I quite agree.
Also, I think that some nights are just great and other not, for no specific reason (that we can know of); c´est la vie. But we will, of course, try to find a fault with ourselves (so that we could correct it) and blame our dancing or our clothes... I actually have this dress I really like, and think I look gorgeous in, but every time I have worn it so far (3 or 4 times in all) I ended up having a bad night - not sitting, necessarily, but no great dances, or an unpleasant event, an argument that spoilt my evening.. so I have come to regard that dress as unlucky, and although I am fully aware of the irrationality of that, I now hesitate to put it on...

Johanna said...

We are made to detect patterns. A survival technique from our cave days, I suppose. So your noticing bad nights apparently coinciding with a particular dress, it is our natural habit to form a connection :-)