In trouble again?

I wonder if I am in trouble again. As Sharon tells the women in the Monday class not to put weight onto the men while following with hands on the chests. I know the remark was aimed at someone, I just do not know if it was me or not.

Often when I give a bit of private tuition I ask the ladies to give me some resistance and will occasionally ask them to lean on me. I do make the point of course that it is for this time only and never to do this while in the main class, and certainly never when dancing.

 This is just a bit more of the conflicting advice that surrounds Tango. I like a bit of resistance, I have a need to know where the woman is. There are followers, good followers, who are very light, and while they respond well to my leads, I do not like to dance with them. I need to feel that there is a presence there; I like a small amount of weight.

Don’t get me wrong, a woman who hangs on my neck, or who I have to push around the room like some overloaded wheel barrow, is not a joy to dance with, but then I do not want to be chasing her either.

I have to take care; I do not run the classes. I never could. Running a big class takes a skill that I do not have, and besides I work shifts. I enjoy my one to ones with the beginners, but sometimes I can use techniques that simply would not work with a large class. I can say to a lady “lean on me” and when I fell that she has the feeling then I can return her to her axis, I can develop the feeling and know that she knows that this is not how we dance.

I sometimes get a lady who simply cannot get the cross; usually this is because the weigh goes back. I have used this trick of saying “lean on me” when the feeling is understood and they are back on their own axis it all becomes clear.

Trouble is of course that when someone else comes into the class and tries this, it does not work, often the leaders have not yet fully developed how to lead the cross and assume that it is the ladies fault.

Sharon is very tough on the class, and sometimes it is misunderstood, but we cannot have everyone teaching at the same time. A bit of humility is needed, as you dance around the room concentrate on your body, what you are doing wrong, not your partner. I am not saying ignore your partner, you must know where they are, you must respond to what they do or where they have their weight, but do not criticise or try to teach.

In the after class salon I dance with as many women as I can  and what I find most annoying is when they say “but I was told to put my foot here by…….” In the class it is Sharon who is teaching, women should respond to the mans body, not his voice.

We did more Vals in the intermediates, there was a shortage of women again, so the men had to put up with me getting very close and intimate. They never dared to tell me where to put my feet, often the lead was not quite right, so I was not necessarily in the right place, but the next time they got it right. As I have said before “I am not the best follower in the world” If they can do it with me then surely they can do it with women who are always women.

So my message is clear “women, go where you are led even if it feels wrong” and men “if the woman is not where you want her you be, it is most likely because you led her there”.

And finally, if someone directs you verbally on the dance floor, tell them to “shut up and dance”. (I did put it a bit more crudely when asked).

If you have any views on anything I have said, post a comment. I may or may not agree but open debate is always better than monologue. After all I can’t be right all the time, can I? Of course if you think I am you could tell me that as well, but I will only get more big headed.


Filed under milonga, Tango

8 responses to “In trouble again?

  1. tangobob

    It’s funny, but I never get women commenting that they love the open embrace, and the man leaving them to do what they feel.
    For me if you are not leaning in, do not have a close embrace, and do not lead from the chest, then you are doing something else, not tango.

  2. Arlene

    Bob, I forgot to mention that I am a big fan of the close embrace and have always been taught that the man leads from the chest and that you must feel it. There are some styles of dancing that require each parter to lean into each other. I kinda like that! A lot! At least I know what I am asked to do rather than having to guess. I think GaL has a very good point.

  3. tangobob

    Thank you for your comment and welcome. I am sorry to hear of your wrist injury, one of the things we do in class is practice without the open side of the embrace, this helps the man lead with the chest. For me though, I think talk of inviting the woman, is just european rubbish, if you dance in Argentina you will be clamped to the mans chest with little option but to follow.
    Ghost chests, I think are often the result of men being told that they must only invite the woman, fear if you like of strong european women.Tango is the result of macho men in a macho society, this translates badly here, so you must try what was done to me in Buenos Aires. Tell them “closer, stronger” and take your right hand away if they try to use it to lead.

  4. GaL

    As a woman, I need as well to feel a resistance in the chest.
    Since I start to dance in UK, I begin to be more and more frustated with the “ghost chest” men. By “ghost chest” I mean that we are dancing close embrace and our chest are touching but there is not connection at all in chest, it like there is not chest!
    At some point, I was not going anymore to the milonga because of that: I was not enjoying most of the dance I had.
    Lately, dances are getting better and my level of frustation decreased because of a wrist injury, sad but true: I can not use anymore my right hand when dancing, so I can only dance with men who can dance without using their left hand, meaning that they need to be able to lead from the chest and keep a strong chest connection with me.

  5. tangobob

    Hi Arlene, thanks for your comment. The answer to that one will take pages. So I may do a blog on that,

  6. Arlene

    Well Bob,
    The teacher isn’t always right. Just a thought. 😉

  7. tangobob

    Thank you for that. “tell them what you feel” I like that, I could make it my new mantra. There is a saying which I will paraphrase:
    When the years have passed, people will not remember what you gave them, they will not remember what you said, they will only remember how you made them feel.

  8. I agree with you; people have to take responsibility for their own dancing. If you teach your fellow students in class you sacrifice your own learning, interfere with theirs, and diminish the authority of the teacher. What you *can* do is tell them what you feel.

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