Pride comes in many forms and it can do funny things to us. The other day I was walking through town following an old, bent and withered man. In the centre of town is an open square and as they do several times a year, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, having just returned from Afghanistan, were having a promotional drive, there was one or two military vehicles, a trailer with a recruiting officer in residence, and an improvised parade ground. Maybe a dozen soldiers were marching up and down, resplendent in their ceremonial uniforms with their instruments filling the afternoon air. As we turned into the square the old man first heard then saw the soldiers and maybe had a vision of his younger days. As we grew closer his back visibly straightened up, then his pace quickened, and gradually his stride lengthened. By the time he reached the middle of the square he was in full marching order, his arms swung high and he moved to the beat of the band. Suddenly regimental pride had taken forty years off his life, and the old man who had stumbled into the square marched out the other side like a young soldier.
We react in a similar way when we dance, we notice an audience and the chest goes out the stomach pulls in, the head comes up and our steps become more precise. This is all to the good, but pride can have its down side:
As we dance around the floor, and things go wrong, as they often do, we believe everyone is watching, suddenly there is no one else on the floor and we are the centre of attention. At this point we get annoyed with our partner and start the blame culture. “you did not follow” “that is because your lead is crap” I am sure we have all been there.
Why do we care so much? In the end it is only dancing, we are supposed to be there for pleasure, and if someone watching notices that things are not going well, could they do any better? The truth is, nobody knows what you intended, often our partner will not know either unless we tell them. How many times has your partner apologised and you did not know why? Think about it. So when you apologise for some indiscretion they similarly do not know why.
The role of the leader is to lead, obviously, but also to know where his follower is. If a lead does not quite work and the follower is somewhere unintended, just enjoy the new position, react and treat it as a new move. Tango is a dance that allows you time to think, allows you to find each others weight and even play a little, faced with something different, do not make it a moment of conflict, but instead a moment of joy, something new to play with.
Pride also plays a part in the moves mans repertoire, if he cannot keep changing his routine, someone may notice that he is running out of moves. This is the time he stops mid floor and explains to the poor bemused follower, as the fault is obviously all hers that people are noticing her lack of ability. I have news for these guys Nobody was watching until you stopped, nobody cared whether you had just done your third volcada, but what they do care about is that you are stopping the flow, and they will notice you are trying to do something you are incapable of leading.