I never thought of body odour as an organiser’s problem until I attended a tango event where the organiser placed a wide selection of body care products in the men’s lavatory. At first, I thought: Isn’t that nice. How thoughtful! Taking care of the guests by thinking about every detail that might cause them any discomfort or embarrassment? I seriously considered going to a shop and getting a nice selection for myself, to discreetly put in our milonga’s toilets. I might as well keep up with the market, service with a smile, and all that. Later, my cynical alter ego woke up wondering: Hang on, surely they also place products in the Ladies?
While leading women in tango, men are exposed to the most enchanting perfumes, shampoos and body lotions the market has to offer. Mixed with music, silk and lace, the scents help create the magic that makes tango so addictive, as Al Pacino convincingly demonstrates in his classic movie performance. I try to do my part too: with the high efficiency that my lineage has bestowed on my body, I need a minimum of two shirt changes and a wash-up during an evening. Hugo Boss, David Beckham, Dolce & Gabbana and Yves St. Laurent are familiar names to me, and I am no longer offended by the fact that such a small quantity of fluid will cost you between 70 and 90 euros. I will not hesitate long to ditch a bottle, after getting unfavourable reviews.
So, how is it for women? During a recent workshop I helped out as follower to a young man who had clearly been working hard the hour before. Eh, was this really happening?
I joked with him that he had found a way to compensate for lacking navigation skills by creating a safety perimeter around him. Of course, he was completely unaware of the phenomenon: smelliness is something that happens to other people around you. Choosing tough love, I told him he smelled like a manure field. I advised him to clean up his act or followers would avoid him like The Plague. “Believe me” I told him, “even Chicho washes up before going to a milonga. Don’t let the macho tattoos fool you”.
I know there are women out there who feel there is a deeper issue behind the phenomenon of smelliness: men are not showing the respect due to women. My personal hypothesis is that most men simply don’t have a clue: the hint in the bathroom, provided by organisers, may be too subtle for them. They need more people like me, to break the news gently to them. I assume there are women exclaiming now: finally, someone is saying it! Men stink! To those women I could say: you may be right, but after a night of dancing, when the body has been burning fat for many hours, despite an abundance of applied product, even the most heartbreakingly beautiful, angelic creature turns out to be a bacteria slaughterhouse, soaking in acetone. But I am only discussing one taboo at the time.