You are unique, just like everyone else

We all worry about what we look like on the dance floor. We also worry that our partner will be pleased with us. It is only natural. The fragile egos of tango dancers are easily damaged.
So we see women sitting waiting to dance and men to frightened to go and ask them. In the past I have often blamed the men for not having the guts to just go and ask, but I wonder, are the ladies also to blame; I have been dancing long enough now to realise that the women who criticise my dancing are themselves unsure of their abilities, but many men are put off from asking again.
I will never forget my first tango festival in Amsterdam, so many women picked on me and made me feel useless that in the end I would not dance with anyone else, even in the classes.

Tango is a great dance, but also a great experience. We dance the music, we dance close, and we dance every dance differently.
So next time someone criticises your dancing, forget the obvious arrogance that they think they are better than you. Forget that this is a milonga and they are not your teacher. No just remember this; Do they really want the same dance with you as they had with the last person they danced with? Or do they just want every dance to be the same?
You are unique and so hopefully is your dance. For anyone who wants to dance every dance the same, or just wants you to conform, I can recommend some very good sequence dance classes.

I saw her sitting alone, and as no men were asking I walked over and asked her to dance. Strange that someone young and attractive should not be dancing, so I explained that I choose to dance with women that I have never danced with because that is how the community grows. After the first tune of the tanda she criticised my embrace, “too close” she said. “I do my dancing in Buenos Aires” I told her that is how we dance there, “It is called Argentine Tango, the clue is in the name”. I think she wanted me to dance at a distance and lead with my arms, that was not going to happen. So she spent the rest of the tanda with a face like thunder and left without a “Thank you”.
She got other dances, but I suspect that they were all people she had done some open classes with. I never saw her in close hold again. I also noticed a lot of men sitting out when there were women who just wanted to dance.
How sad that men are put off by women like this and that both sexes are denied a good dance by a few thoughtless people.

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “You are unique, just like everyone else

  1. Perri wrote: “a tango instructor from BsAs at the maestra level

    :() :()

    Sorry to laugh, Perri, but please do ask some Argentines what’s meant by the the word “maestra”.

    Likewise “tanguero”. It absolutely does not mean what you think it means.

  2. Thank you for that very honest and insightful response. You bring up an interesting point. After 5 years, I found myself also becoming arrogant. ‘Impatient’ is probably the better word. I am now 8 years into this dance and the last 3 years have been an education in tempering my reaction to the unintended offenses committed by those who are new to tango.

    I think the feeling of ‘arrogance’ is quite natural for tangueros who have put so much time and effort into becoming proficient leaders. This is not an easy skill to acquire and I think you are right to expect a certain amount of respect from your partners, as you would, I am certain, of a tanguera who was much more accomplished than you.

    My work takes me all around the United States and I’ve been a frequent contributor to quite a few nascent tango communities in my travels. I rarely get the chance to dance with tangueras at my skill level which I consider to be at best a beginner intermediate.

    This being the case, I have learned to be extremely careful when I dance with novice tangueras because they are the most anxious and the most easily offended.

    This has been such a tremendous learning experience that I made it the main focus of my latest book ‘Fear of Intimacy and the Tango Cure’. I also write about my experiences weekly on my blogpost ‘Adventures in Tango with the Kayak Hombre and Capitan Frog’ at http://www.kayakhombre.blogspot.com.

    Yes, it’s a silly name but it was inspired by a famous tanguera, Daniela Arcuri, a tango instructor from BsAs at the maestra level, now living in Austin, TX.

    Thanks again for taking the time to ‘talk’ this out with me. It has been another lesson in my ongoing education in Argentine Tango.

  3. Perri wrote: “you didn’t mention whether or not you used cabeceo to make the dance invite to the young lady mentioned in your post yet you expected her to dance with you like a portena

    And did or did not Bob pay the entrance in pesos? :)

    Bob wrote: “… it is fear of the criticism that many in this country feel they can direct at their partners.

    A subject worth an article from you, I think Bob. Is the real problem the fear, or the criticism?

  4. tangobob

    I am afraid I have no control over how milongas are run, so, no, there was no cabeceo. Dance like a porteña? Well very few can do that unless they have been. There is a unique feeling that comes from dancing in the milongas of Buenos Aires, so, no, I never expect ladies to dance like a Porteña. That said I do expect an embrace, because without it we are not truly dancing tango.
    After so many years dancing tango I have become tougher(arrogant if you like) but while women sit around waiting to dance the men sit around unwilling to ask them. Often it is the fear of rejection, but also it is fear of the criticism that many in this country feel they can direct at their partners. (true equally of both sexes). So you will have to forgive me when I react to criticism. I do far more Tango in Buenos Aires than I do at home (despite the short times I am there) but never has a lady in the milongas criticised my embrace, or my dancing.

  5. The reason I ask is that you didn’t mention whether or not you used cabeceo to make the dance invite to the young lady mentioned in your post yet you expected her to dance with you like a portena. If this incorrect then I sincerely apologize for my confusion.

    I applaud your efforts as a tanguero to make sure all the tangueras get dances but I disagree with your reaction to her statement, “too close.”

  6. tangobob

    Strange question; Mostly the cabeceo is used, although some who prey on the turistas will approach a table, most local women will refuse a dance unless you do cabeceo.

  7. Do they use cabeceo in BsAs?

  8. tangobob

    Ha ha, Thanks Chris, as my wife just said “how can you have open embrace, you cannot embrace someone without touching them”.

  9. Perri wrote: “Argentine Tango can be danced in open or close embrace.

    Who invented that oxymoron “open embrace”, I wonder.

    Not anyone you’d find in a BsAs milonga, surely.

  10. tangobob

    “The woman chooses the distance” Is a commonly held view of those who have not spent time in the milongas of Buenos Aires. There is a long list of “rules” that I have had to unlearn, in order to be comfortable in Buenos Aires. In time I may list some of them here, because the English way of tango has made things difficult for me, but that said, without what I learned here I would never have gone inn the first place.
    As I said “I do my dancing in Buenos Aires” but if you, or anyone else wants to dance stage tango, I suggest you attend a stage school. The milonga is not the place to show off, or do ganchos and massive boleos. It is a social event.
    As one famous milonguero said “Two things in tango are not negotiable, The music and the embrace”.

  11. If she says you are too close, you are too close. The woman chooses the distance.

    Your response is pretentious and totally inappropriate: “I do my dancing in Buenos Aires” I told her that is how we dance there, “It is called Argentine Tango, the clue is in the name”.

    Argentine Tango can be danced in open or close embrace.

    Now that you are one month wiser, read these words of yours again and see if you can find anything wrong with what you said, “I choose to dance with women that I have never danced with because that is how the community grows.”

  12. Paul wrote: “Never criticise your partner

    And never call her a follower… unless that’s really all you want her to be.

  13. tangobob

    Thanks Paul, I have never forgotten how you and Annette helped us back in the late 90′s. I hope we can carry on spreading the word and make those enjoyable experiences open to everyone.

  14. Bob wrote:”After the first tune of the tanda she criticised my embrace, “too close” she said. “I do my dancing in Buenos Aires” I told her that is how we dance there, “It is called Argentine Tango, the clue is in the name”.

    Well said, B.

    I recall my visit to a local (UK) dance-school milonga where I forgot to observe adequately before inviting a girl and taking her into the embrace. She squirmed out of it, took one step back, composed herself and said “Could we please use the normal hold?”.

    Quite a learning experience for me…

  15. Paul

    Well done! Never criticise your partner, we are all beginners in the long haul. I have had some very enjoyable experiences on the dance floor adjusting to the ability and style of less experienced followers.

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