On the way home from a milonga my head is always full of creative thoughts and events I could write about. On the way home from a milonga, the dances of the night are still vivid pictures, however, by the time I get home all the creative thought are gone. By now I got to know some of the organizers and the people behind the local tango scenes and I’ve come to realize how likely tango hierarchy is to indian caste systems. Sometimes I laugh at the stories told, but unfortunately, there is a sadder side of the coin.
There is a particular teacher who always arrives to milongas with an other “tanguero”. The Other tanguero aks a someone for a dance and leads fancy, complicated moves. At this point, as the confidence of the woman starts to drop and a psychological barrier starts to build, no matter how good a dancer she is, she starts to stumble and make mistake after mistake. Meanwhile, the Other Tanguero promptly describes what an amazing teacher his friend is, etc etc. At the end of the tanda, this poor woman walks back to her place, completely shuttered. Now is the time of the Teacher – this time he asks the same woman for a dance. His calm, confident and simple moves calm the broken heart of this woman, and voila, they magically also have a block of 10 private sessions agreed. (Let me add: this teacher is nowhere near as good as Andras Szőllősi or Laszlo Budai, two really good Hungarian teachers).
Now here’s the thing. Do not teach at milongas. I can already see many of my readers shaking their head in disbelief and coming up with instances of milonga-teaching, saying this and that, and what if he’s a friend bla bla bla. NO. Let’s make this clear.
DO NOT TEACH AT A MILONGA
Tango is an extremely complex dance. Keep your own axis but don’t be too stiff. Don’t be a duck and stick your bum out. When you are too stiff, your embrace becomes that of a wooden log. If you don’t keep pushing into the floor, you loose some of your lead-ability. Have a good day and a single bad impulse will tip you over the edge…
Lately I’ve been dancing with partners who have danced tango for many years now and I can tell by the way they dance when something is not right. Our dance is affected by a whole range of physical and psychological factors; therefore we have to be patient and forgiving when something doesn’t work quite the way it should.
Dear leaders, instead of ignoring the issue please change your attitudes and imagine the following situation.
Just for the sake of argument, let’s imagine, that this time the woman is smarter. Let’s call her Angel of Vengeance (AV) who decides to teach a lesson to the Tanguero who always teaches at milongas. Our Tanguero arrives to the scene and starts to dance with AV. Angel of Vengeance starts to make hints:
first hint: Your musicality seems to be worse today, what happened? – At this point the man starts to think about his musicality and gets a bit tense. Is his musicality really off today? He starts focusing on his weaknesses as he tries to prove himself. He tries all his fanciest, most complicated step combinations, rhythmic schemes and as a result, he starts to drag the woman.
second hint: You are pushing waaay to strong with your left hand. I don’t need this amount of contact. – Now the man gets lost in the embrace, he doesn’t dare to lead as usual, his whole composure starts to fall apart.
third hint: I don’t really understand what you are trying to lead. – Our guy, after all these negative remarks doesn’t lead anything but simple, straight steps until the end of the tanda, and, as a result of the experience, he won’t be able to enjoy the evening.
This kind of behaviour doesn’t lead anywhere. I repeat:
Do not teach at milongas.
What’s the solution? Practicas, for example. In Budapest, there are 3 practicas. Just take a look online to find out about practicas in your city and feel free to take your issues there, discuss them, and make constructive remarks on other’s dance. Or simply ask the teachers at a lesson. These are but two possible solutions…
So long for writing about the difference among the embraces of Argentine women depending on whether they teach or not and how long they had been dancing tango…. Maybe next time… :)