Daily Archives: July 30, 2010

Blame Culture

I blame the teachers, the women blame the men and the men blame the women.

Why do we do this, constantly tell each other what we think their faults are?

Tango is a conversation between a man and a woman, I ask you to step here (with my body) and occasionally you will not hear, then my job is to find you and try something different, not accuse you of not following.

If I speak and you do not hear, then surely I need to speak louder or just rephrase what I say.

When we first step onto the floor with a new partner, we must first learn how to conduct this conversation with each other, then we must find the level at which we are working and then we must listen to the music.

What we should never do is that step I learned last night with someone who has no idea about what is to happen and we have no real idea how to lead it and then blame our partner if it does not work.

Do you recognise this scene? “I wanted you over there” “but I don’t know what you want me to do” “Just put your foot there and I go this way” and on it goes.

This is not Tango, I am sure that the women hate this. The dance floor is for pleasure, not teaching, and who says you are teaching it correctly anyway?

I too am guilty of trying new moves on the dance floor, but, importantly, if the woman does not get it, I will try my hardest to not let her know, because if my lead were right she would have got it. Of course I do not always succeed and I get apologies from the women, what I really want is to be able to lead the ladies to do something they have never done before, for them to enjoy the dance with me and to simply be. I do not want apologies, learn this if nothing else “It is not your fault” when we talk with our bodies the tongue will only get in the way. The reason we have (usually) three dances together, is so that we can learn to communicate and, hopefully, by the last dance move in unison.

We learn tango here, by rote, we learn moves, never do we allow the men free movement and simply teach them how to lead. So we learn a new move, some get it quicker than others, so every other person in the room becomes teacher. Some confidently believe they know what they are doing; tell their partner the wrong move who then passes on to the next, to be told something different. Is it any wonder that some become so confused that they give up in frustration?

Many years ago I spent two weeks learning nothing but Ganchos, we were just beginners yet all the women in the room, who had been dancing longer than me (ie most of them) tried to bully me and told me I was useless. It nearly killed my tango off there and then. Yet when I danced with Viv it simply worked. I believe this was because we understood each other and how we moved. The women in that room did not understand (neither did I at the time) and had never been taught, that before we learn a move we must first learn how to communicate with each other.

Every tango is different, just as every tango dancer is different, so why do teachers strive to make us conform? Of course there are rules, but do we all need to have our arms in exactly the same place or do ochos in exactly the same way.

Constantly changing partners is something else that breaks this bond. I am not saying we should dance with the same partner all night, but I am willing to bet that almost every one of you has struggled with some move, with a particular partner and just at the point where you think you will get it you hear “change partners”. Sometimes we need a little longer to find each other and discover what a move holds, but reticence to change partners is seen as a weakness, when in fact occasionally it is exactly what every one needs.

I believe that this is just a ploy to make us spend more money, the more complex the moves the longer it will take to learn them, the more stylised the pose the more we can be manipulated to believe that we need more coaching. This goes on until we get the ridiculous situation where here, classes outnumber actual dances ten fold.

I could (if permitted) attend a class almost every night of the week and yet be lucky to get more than two dances a month. The danger is that we forget why we dance. Dancing is a social event a chance to meet other people to have contact and just enjoy. If you just want more night classes try flower arranging at least then there can be no one to blame but yourself.

We have developed a culture that gives free reign to the Tango fascists, I am sure you have all been subjected to the perfect dancer, who can do no wrong yet every thing you do is hopeless. It has happened to me, fortunately I have been dancing long enough now to be able to turn the tables, but I can well understand how newbies can be intimidated.

There is only one answer to these people “shut up and Dance or leave the floor”


Filed under Tango