Many will have heard me rant on about moves people and how their tango disrupts social tango and often makes more than just their partners uncomfortable. We know that their style of learning is different and they do not learn the basics of the lead and follow.

Sometimes though what we know is challenged, our basic beliefs are proven wrong and we are driven to question what we have always known.

We had some visitors to the Shrewsbury class, they did what I often do, search out what tango is around the places we visit. They were holidaying not too far away and decided to visit The Lantern and see what tango was like in Shrewsbury. The man of the couple was an absolute beginner and so was exiled to the back room to have some intensive technique in walking and leading. For a change the numbers allowed me to stay with the main class and see what they were all learning. I had a chat with our visitor, and it seems she had come from classes that were nothing like ours, they learnt moves and little technique, but I thought that in the interval I would take her round the floor and see how she performed. I admit to being pleasantly surprised, she followed well and as I slowly upped the level, at no time was she phased.

As I have often said, women follow instinctively and I am sure that this is in part what was happening, but also I think that, despite everything, there must have been some element of lead and follow in her other classes. Our tango worlds may not always sit happily together, but, as has been proven, we can cross the divide happily, provided we remember where we are at any given time.

I do wonder though if it would be quite so easy to cross the divide for a man. My first steps in tango were all about moves, my routine based tango stayed with me through most of my formative years of salon tango. I never lost it until I went to Buenos Aires, then in two intensive weeks of dancing my tango changed forever, and my routine was lost.

No matter how hard I tried I could not recover my routine. I could not even remember how we started. I think that now, as I try to dance the music, I am unable to arrange my moves in a pre arranged order, routine simply will not fit to the music, the music dictates.

I would love to hear from men, can you go from Nuevo to salon easily? Have others lost their routine when faced with hours of salon tango? And more importantly can any men survive in both worlds?

After the class we had our usual meeting in The Coracle and had further options to explore the differences in our tango worlds. One thing that still surprises me is that women actually prefer a gentle simple dance; they do not get bored with doing the same thing, longing for more and more complex moves. When you dance the music, that decides what you should do and the way you mix up the moves and alter cadence can make even very few moves feel like an interesting dance.

We men all do it; we worry that, maybe, that was one too many ochos, or is she getting bored with not enough moves. Yes even me, we also see good dancers and think “I could not possibly ask her to dance” We all have our own crisis’ of confidence, we men have fragile egos, in this way tango is much like sex; women have complex desires but a man prefers the woman who just tells him he is great in bed or on the dance floor. 

So while I can bang on that there is no need to do more and more complex moves, and you must dance the music and the women will love you for it, the women must play their part and tell us that this is what they want, or we will just go off and learn more moves just to try and please you.


Filed under milonga, Tango

5 responses to “Visitors

  1. Bob wrote: “Sorry Anna if that bothers you, but, back in the 90′s that is how I was taught, just sequences. Of all the people I have seen since doing nuevo non have convinced me that they learnt any other way.

    From the classes I took with the three leading lights of nuevo (in the days before the word “nuevo” gained its current stigma) I agree – they were heavily based on rote-learned sequences. Improvisation didn’t get a look in.

    Anna says her judgement that nuevo has a wide variety of movements is based on what she’s seen. Well, that’s what nuevo, show and other commercial tango dance forms are for – to be seen. If you’re only looking, you’ll see more variety in commericial dancing than you will in social dancing, because the variety in social dancing is in all the subtleties one can only feel.

    You could say the social dance looks as boring as the commercial dance feels, but feels as exciting as the commercial dance looks. Except that the social dance feel brings the ability to see that feel in others. And ultimately nothing looks more exciting than a great feeling.

    Thanks Bob for another thought-provoking article.

  2. tangobob

    I think it is very true, if a man leads well, then the woman can do whatever style the man chooses. Following after all is following.
    That is why it is hard for the man to switch, he has to lead something totally different. That is our cross for having the privilage of a beautiful woman in our arms.

  3. Arlene

    Hi Bob,

    May I suggest ‘dancing large’? I first learned from someone who is big on show tango, large moves, ganchos, etc. When I went to my very first proper little milonga, I had difficulty dancing salon. Everyone I know (men and women) who learned with this guy had the same problem when they started dancing elsewhere. Once we all learned in a more traditional way, it was easier for us to switch back to larger and more complicated moves if we wanted to. Though I think it is easier for the women than the men to switch.
    I think that if one learns the basics of salon dancing, then it will be easier to pick up more complicated stuff and switch. Though I think some people get hooked on doing the moves.
    I think women on the whole find it easier to follow what is lead in a complicated move than the men being actually able to lead them. If the man isn’t getting the desired result from his lead, he usually isn’t leading it correctly and that is proven many times over when the teacher will lead the move with the follower and she does it correctly with him. 🙂

  4. tangobob

    Sorry Anna if that bothers you, but, back in the 90’s that is how I was taught, just sequences. Of all the people I have seen since doing nuevo non have convinced me that they learnt any other way. Maybe you have seen some who’s salon, or I would say social, tango has a solid base, then I would grudgingly agree. However those who I have seen doing “stage ” tango, fit it with the music because it is choreogrphed to fit that particular piece.
    The real problem of course is those who choose to interupt a social milonga with their big moves, nuevo in a nuevo milonga is OK but never in a social milonga.

  5. Anna

    You use ‘nuevo’ as a synonym for pre-planned move sequences. From the nuevo dancing I have seen I think that is unfair, those dancers had wonderful musicality and used a wide variety of movements to play with the music. Perhaps that is only possible if the dancer’s salon foundations are also solid.

Please comment, I love to hear your views.

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