Who is faultless?

After reading several blogs from women, I am driven to write again on the subject of men criticising women on the dance floor.

Why do they do this? Does it cover their own insecurity? Or perhaps they really do think they are the greatest tango dancer in the world and we should all learn from them?

I am not a psychologist I can only guess, but what I can say is that it does have an effect on the women; it often drives them away,

Surly this is not what we want; I would think that men have enough of dancing with me in the classes and would prefer to dance with women. Drive them all away and I will be all they have left.

Standing mid floor giving instructions, will not only upset the woman but also all your fellow dancers. We don’t want to come across a bus stop every time we come round the floor, neither do the ladies expect to be the object of everyone’s annoyance. Whispering instructions may be preferable to standing mid floor causing embarrassment, but let’s face it the men also would not like being criticised. Some times with beginners I will offer advice on posture and stance, we can’t lead anything if our follower is not there, but I will never tell the lady where she should move or say she is a bad dancer. If something I have led does not work I will assume either I have not led it well or that the woman is not ready for this particular move. I will leave it there and try something else, after all I have enough in my repertoire no one is watching us, and we are not in an exhibition.

A good leader will feel his way to the ladies level and only exceed her level where he thinks she can follow.

I have often been asked to give classes; I decline because as a shift worker I cannot regularly give my time, also I am not trained to teach. True, most dance teachers are also not trained to teach, but here we have a teacher who is, so I will bow out and just give the beginners my time and stick to some one to one coaching.

Now the business of picking fault is not the total reserve of the men out there. This may come as a surprise, but even I am not immune.

In Amsterdam 1998 we attended beginner’s classes at Tangomagia and the way some of the more advanced women picked on me almost killed my tango career there and then. Had I not been with my wife and able to say I did not want to change partners I truly think I would not have stayed the course. So women, I know how you feel.

My dancing still is far from perfect and still I get women who delight in picking at my faults, fortunately after this long, I know what most of my faults are and just ignore the critics, most of the time. One or two just annoy me, so I vote with my feet and dance with others. No one is perfect and believing you are will not make you a good dancer or teacher. Often in class I will spot faults in others that I myself have. This is not hypocrisy, knowing my own faults helps me see them in others, and hopefully if caught soon enough I can stop others developing the bad habits that I seem to be stuck with.

So my advice is: Women, dance only with those men who please you, if someone constantly picks on you, it is due to their inability. Better to be sitting down listening to the music than being miserable while you dance.

Men, dance for pleasure, not to show off, and if a woman does not get what you are leading, do something else. You are not there to teach but to give your partner pleasure while enjoying yourself.

When you stop trying to be something you are not, and stop trying to make your partner something he/she is not, as a couple you will look better, be better dancers, and enjoy your dancing so much more. As I often say basics danced well can look great where as bad dancing never looks good, no matter how advanced it is.


Filed under milonga, Tango

9 responses to “Who is faultless?

  1. Pingback: It’s all about attitude « The life of a frustrated Milonguero

  2. tangobob

    As I have said “I myself have been caught out giving advice where I should not” it is difficult sometimes to say nothing, especialy when we are in discomfort. I have always been taught that the woman decides the distance, so if you find the embrace too tight you should create some space, although a very tight close embrace is more what you would get in Buenos Aires. As for arms, if you are constantly being pushed with the left arm try dropping your right so that there is no longer a connection there, then the chest will have to do the job. Sometimes though, if it is your own partner, only practice with others will help the situation. I cannot tell you how many dancing rows we have had, dance teachers become marriage guidance councilors too. Hey! I may do a post on that one.

  3. I sometimes find the put up and shut up very hard to adhere to and not dancing again with certain leaders is often not an option (especially if you happen live with one of them). So how do I best communicate the following to a leader: a) that his embrace feels like a straight jacket, b) that he’s leading with his arms not his chest, and c) that I can’t do what he’s trying to lead because he’s lifting me up from my rib cage? These are my pet hates – and yes, I know I’m nowhere near perfect and have my own share of dancing faults

  4. tangobob

    Hi Cherie
    Of course, I would never dare in Buenos Aires, the only time to give some coaching is with beginners in a practica, but of course it has to be requested and never ever in a distructive or insulting way. (btw I have myself been caught out giving advice where I should not, but again I cannot justify it here for fear of causing embarasment). I like the “are you comfortable” that is a nice touch.
    Abrazos Bob

  5. Hi Bob,

    Just to say that in Buenos Aires, it’s only the best tangueros who ask in between tangos, “Are you comfortable?” Which is to say, “any complaints?” The bad dancers never ask.

    But other than that, any other conversation over how one is dancing is not acceptable. You put up and shut up until the end of the tanda, and if you aren’t happy, you don’t dance with that person again.

    In smaller communities I understand there is a desire to improve everyone’s level of dancing. But I just can’t imagine enjoying a tanda with someone who verbally tells me to “give him more weight.” This man needs to learn to lead non-verbally at a milonga. At a practica, it’s ok to offer suggestions. IMHO.


  6. tangobob

    The only comments I will make are on the lines of “could you give me more weight” or when asked why something did not work “”you let your weight go backwards” Most of the time failure to follow is the fault of the leader, the majority of women can follow instictively if we give them a good lead. Trouble is men who learn steps, never learn to lead.

  7. Captain Jep

    I think many people in this country see practicas as milongas in all but name , so I rarely make comments on anyone’s dancing there. The only time it feels appropriate is in the dancing immediately after a lesson. And I’ll only say something if I absolutely have to.

    Most people eventually become OK social dancers. As long as they’re not going to become train wrecks or social outcasts, who are we to criticise?

  8. tangobob

    Yes Anna there is a difference between a practica and a milonga, but even there you can be gentle, “can you give me more weight” is far better that “you are not following” I know that you ladies have a less fragile ego than we men, but still I have seen women destroyed by criticism. I would rather have floor full of poor dancers that be there on my own.

  9. Anna

    Hi Bob,
    It depends on the setting. In a milonga I would rather not be critisised on the dance floor, as I want to enjoy the music and the moment. However, in a practica I am dancing to get better so I generally welcome constructive criticism and may offer suggestions to a lead I am dancing with.

Please comment, I love to hear your views.

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