Dear Debbi, your post regarding tango etiquette on how you gracefully explained to a young leader the 101 of a milonga etiquette is great. I do, however, digress with you on the reason why people leave Tango for some other dance. There’s just not enough kind persons willing to explain this stuff in the tango scenes of some cities. Yes, the teachers should do this. But so should anyone.
It’s the off putting attitude of people that generally turns people down on activities. Everyone wants to be welcomed to a social group and enlightened with a positive spin.
If you’re a starting leader, don’t fret about your mistakes and mishaps. The kindest followers tend to also be the truly kind persons. The ones concerned about setting everyone right – specially the young and naive – tend to have a big ego and dance more with their own ego during the dance than with you.
You don’t need to turn down people that have been nice to you before just to be accepted to a clique.
I know a festival is a moment where you think you need to be accepted by others but perhaps being nice to the leaders that have helped you blossom will go a longer way than you believe.
Watching amazing dancers on the dance floor can have several effects. One of them is to make you realize how much you still have to learn, practice and internalize. On the other hand, it is very easy to be blown away and feel bad about sharing a dance floor doing your own thing, cumbersome in comparison. You feel limited by your abilities and less able to give another great dancer a great time.
As a leader, no matter whatever other might say, I always feel guilty about a less good dance. A missed connection, literally. One thing I’ve been dealing with is also to realize that a lot of great dancers on the dance floor are professionals. I want to dance better and better but it is also important to keep things a bit in perspective.
While this frustration may be very hard on you on the spot, at the milonga, it is also a source of energy to work hard and let go of less good feelings afterwards. We need to enjoy the journey.
Today I got a thank you in the middle of a tanda. That was good to tame the ego. Far too high lately.
I’m going through a lot of tango blog posts. I’ve been more worried about work and dancing than actually writing about it. Going through those posts, I found Sorin’s post about being rudely denied a dance. I mean, yes, it was honest. I’d rather have that than this (I haven’t invited her again). She was brutally honest. She spoke what she felt. I’d rather believe she respects you by telling you the truth than saying her feet hurt or whatever lame excuse you’ve heard before.
I find funny why people expect tango communities to be overly friendly. I mean, just look at the profiles of people that constitute them. Normally, they’re full of all-round ambitious persons that have devoted a lot of time and dedication to the dance. A lot of them have learned about the history, the music and spent countless hours thinking about technique and built their own philosophy to approach the dance. I’d rather have one great dance with someone every month than so so dances weekly. I mean it. I’m not saying you should expect rudeness, but you should not expect fairy-tale behavior from anyone.
One of the biggest attractions of tango to me is getting close to my native background while being in US. I am originally from a country where people speak a lot more from the heart, less chit chat and even less bothering endeavors such as being “nice” or “pleasant” on demand. I expect people to be sincere to me at a milonga and I’d rather have someone tell me I suck to them than pity dances. I also expect any follower that dances with me to be in the right mindset. When one dances, one should put toda la carne en el assador.
(image from here)
At the beginning it felt good. A friendly follower kept praising that I was a nice dancer, different than others. Then she asked me who I took classes with and now I am the professor’s students. She keeps on telling me how I dance nicely like the others that also take classes from the same teacher. I guess she’s saying that we don’t push women around, we listen to the music and strive for a good connection.
I don’t mind people praising me and my friends for dancing like how a professor advocates for. That’s all good. In fact, everyone choses their professors according to what they find is beautiful from an aesthetic point of view and how and what each professor focus on. But still, I feel like a copycat. I feel like a product.
I feel my tango isn’t evolving as it should. I can see how I am being a bit trapped in technicalities for the time being. It’s keeping me from fully improvising to the music and to generate new ways to move around. This is partially due to the fact that my technique shortcomings still rank high on my things to improve
This is why I am becoming a bit tired of some classes. Of so much input to parse and let it grow in me. But specially, because I see that this Tango thing is hard. I’m musical, I’m sensitive and gentle, but I still lack technique. I feel thankful for the fact that I am very musical, which has made “well-known” followers ask me directly for a dance (how anti-cabeceo!!). Me, on the other hand, would never have. I always feel they just want to dance with the best dancers and doesn’t feel right to me to ask them. To rob them away from a great tanda with a great dancer.
But it is hard because no matter where you are in your tango stage, you always want to narrow down what is currently annoying you. What you really need to improve on. And why do you need to? Because every time you finish a tanda with a great dancer – be it technically or musically – you always feel you could have done a bit better. You could have given the woman a better dance. You feel that deep down, you may have disappointed her a bit.
It is only healthy if you want to improve to give the women better dances, not for your own ego. But those two are tricky to separate and wishful thinking is easy…