Not long ago I published a powerful and harsh note on facebook about teaching at milongas. Just like my previous article about the dangerous embrace this controversial note spread across the tango communities like wild fire and resulted in many responses. I have received grateful words, congratulations and interesting remarks. Someone asked if XY was my student as he had some not-so-kind words for him… but no, that particular XY isn’t my student. Some asked me to give my opinion on different situations. What if “during the milonga a dance partner asks for advice/wants to be taught…” Many turned to me with their own, sometimes interesting, sometimes outraging stories.
The aim is still the same: avoid teaching at milongas!
I still hope that the previously mentioned teaching at milongas will cease to exist – the more problematic cases anyway. Of course, one single note written about the topic will not make a big difference. I can’t force-change their behavior with a harsh note hanging above them as if it was the sword of Damocles. All the while, the tango community should remain a positive, encouraging environment rather than an unwelcoming, negative place demanding explanations from it’s individuals.
What is the solution?
How can we expect a student to understand the harm in teaching at milongas if his teacher doesn’t set an example and doesn’t teach the importance of codigos to him?
Set an example, be an example!
A good tango teacher, apart from the actual teaching, has other important roles. One of these is introducing tango-novices to the importance of codigos, the tango etiquette. And once you teach codigos, you have to adhere to them!
How could a teacher tell his students to go to milongas when he himself doesn’t go?
How could a teacher tell his students to use cabeceo when he himself doesn’t use it?
And most importantly how could a teacher tell his students not to teach, when he himself breaks the rule?
Teach them not to teach at milongas!
I have just come to realize that I don’t spend enough time teaching my students the most important rule of all: do not teach at milongas. It seems that discussing one or two problematic cases with them isn’t enough. I have to show them, teach them, talk to them about these issues so they can understand what the codigos mean and why are they important. And this should be given the same weight at our lessons as teaching cabeceo. How do we do that? During the lessons when we change partners first we explain what cabeceo is and how to use it. Then students practice by asking new partners for a dance using cabeceo.
Thinking about it, not only dance instructors can set an example and be preventive – you too, can be an example! Yes! Be an example to build a better community!
Finally, let me share what a friend of mine said. In his opinion excluding the rude student who insists on teaching at milongas from my lessons is not the solution. After all, he’s the one in biggest need of guideance. Instead, I should focus on teaching him codigos and etiquette until they soak in. Don’t teach at milongas. If I don’t do it nor should he!
Thanks for the article! Teaching at a milonga is one of the most irritating things to deal with. Sad that it happens so often, but fortunately posts like these are around to keep reminding us to be respectful :)