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Have your 3 cents worth....

Posted: 14:15, Wednesday 24 May 2006 by Megan Jones

Updated: 14:36, Wednesday 24 May 2006 by Megan Jones

I subscribe to a discussion list about Argentine Tango – occasionally amongst the waffle there are some interesting debates. One of late has come up and I thought you might be curious to read a bit from people across the globe….This particular debate came out of questions about how men can avoid being asked to dance by people they don’t want to dance with – don’t worry, there are just as many heated and opinionated debates going in the other direction!

It is good to keep some balance between having fun and doing some ‘social’ work. Men should keep in mind that by dancing with beginner women their leading skills and improvisation capacity will improve enormously as he has to lead properly and compensate for her mistakes or misinterpretation of his lead. Women also become better dancers as they become very experienced with adjusting to any level of dancing skills. Finally, it is good, when possible, to divide your activities into ‘Practicas’ where you can dance with everybody, discuss, teach, learn, etc, and “Milongas” where you go dancing to have fun.

And from someone else…

I do know that part of the problem is the prevalent fallacy (most recently spread by Rick) that women will improve by dancing “with someone who’s above your current level.” That may work for some women, but in my experience, only for a small minority. The truth is that a man who leads well makes a woman feel like she can really dance. If she believes this illusion (and who wouldn’t?), then rather than work to improve her dancing, she may blame the other men when something goes wrong. A concrete example: One of the most important technical skills for tango is balance. As an experienced leader, I automatically adjust myself if the woman missteps, so that she rarely goes out of balance. If she does go out of balance, I am strong enough to hold her up. The best way for a woman to improve her balance is probably to work alone. But if she must practice with a partner, she will learn a lot more about her own balance by working with a man near or even below her own level.

From someone else…

When it’s a lost cause (hiding from a follower), however, I find that being a smoker helps tremendously, because then I can hide outside in the open, rather than concealing myself in the bathroom. And if I’ve just had a cigarette and don’t want another, I find that starting a conversation with an aggressive follower is a good way to solve the problem head-on. If her idea was “bailemos,” I’ll raise the bet to “charlemos,” and either get to chat, or get her out of my way—whichever option she chooses. (Technique here? Just talk. If she asks you to dance, just say “No thanks,” and get right back to the conversation. If she insists, tell her not to be rude. If you can’t make small talk, learn.)

From someone else…

It does not surprise me that the men don’t want tell the women that they don’t want to dance with them (but hiding in the bathroom?). Nevertheless, there is some misunderstanding in the social contract when the women approach the men and ask to dance, if the men are avoiding eye contact. How polite is that? Why do your men think that declining an offer to dance is rude? Being polite does not require that you always do what someone else wants you to do. I happen to believe that the cabeceo is an extension of what people do all the time when interacting with other people. We have a tendency to look at people we are interested in. Conversely, if we don’t want to interact with them, we avoid looking in their direction. As people get to know each other, the exchange of looks becomes more and more subtle. Maybe you should remind your female dancers of this most basic of human behaviors.

And from someone else…

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is lessons. I respect a beginner who is making an effort to get better, no matter how long it takes. Then there are other dancers who just stagnate. A good leader has gone through hell to get good. Isn’t it reasonable that he expects followers to make a similiar effort? Attitude and effort count for a lot. Quality is more important than quantity. Connection is always more important to me than figures. It took me a L-O-N-G time to learn that lesson.

No, just one last one…!

It’s rough out in that big bad tango world, folks. If you want more dances at the milonga, do whatever it takes to get better (gee, this might actually entail investing some time and money), and don’t waste effort blaming the world for not deigning to give you a mercy dance.

Some of them made me chuckle anyway!


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Community discussion on this article

At 16:30 on Wednesday, 24 May 2006 Ben said:

At 10:06 on Thursday, 25 May 2006 Ana said: