Tango Argentino > How many hours lessons?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Melody58, Apr 26, 2013.

  1. Melody58

    Melody58 New Member

    How many hours lessons do you before one would be and feel comfortable dancing at a milonga or is it a case of give it a go?
  2. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    It depends on a person. I saw people who were comfortable after a couple of classes, as well as others who had been taking loads of lessons for a few years, and still did not feel comfortable.
    It also depends on a milonga.
    When you go to a milonga, you are not obligated to dance every tanda, or at all. So, I would say, definitely give it a go.
    You can also ask your instructor that question: do you think I am (we are) ready?
  3. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Better none. The more you know the more there will be a gap between claim and reality (especially for leaders) in your head. Simply go dancing, feel free to ask for a feedback. Get to know as many dancers as possible. Social dancing is a parallel syllabus, with an independent timeline. But be aware that some confusions with your parter are bound to occur: women learn much faster than men. That may be a reason for frustration. I know so many couples that began rivaling. A lot gave up dancing then. Single dancers got a better prognosis (especially men again).
  4. NZ_Guy

    NZ_Guy Member

    My thoughts on this at the moment, possibly only applying to my local scene, is that for leaders, as soon as possible and for followers when they are confident enough to not take advice from leaders. For both, it would be a good idea to go to a few milongas without dancing.
  5. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    It all depends upon whether the content of the classes you attend is aimed, directly, at building the skills necessary to lead or follow a partner in the conditions of a milonga (ie social dancing). If the focus of the classes lies elsewhere (move of the week ...), then I agree with Opendoor, that None is your best preparation. If the classes are actually teaching you how to dance socially, then you will already know the answer to the question from your own experience. Can you lead (or follow) simple movements, feeling the ebb and flow of the music, and feeling your partner moving with you, or not? If you can do just those things, you can already tango quite well. It might just take an hour or two - but many will never be able to do it, no matter what they spend on instruction.
    bordertangoman and sixela like this.
  6. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    IMO, hours is a poor way to measure "readiness" (assuming we could even agree on what that meant). I will say that I think being ready, does depend in large part on the local milonga(s) you are considering. Some are much more beginner friendly than others.

    Now with all the above disclaimers, here is what I think the steps/moves you should have competency in: walking, rock steps, the cross, ochos, and the molinette.

    BTW, practica is the place to obtain proficiency and get feedback on your progress.
    Someday and Subliminal like this.
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Yup, should be your first choice if one is available.

    I believe you are dancing with your husband, so, if you feel that the two of you can: "keep up with the ronda" and pretty much not interfere with the other dancers (only pretty much, beginners are easy to spot and easy to dance "around" as long as you are doing your part as in not intefering with other dancers pretty much, oh gosh, I'm in a loop!).

    Another tip would be to find a milonga that has a beginner lesson, so you can be among other people who are new to the dance. Often, as the evening goes on, the floor becomes more crowded and more demanding as more experienced dancers arrive.
  8. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    One year and and half, one class per week, that would be 75 hours. Oh but you're a follower. Then one hour is enough. Homer Ladas will need even less. If you don't have the money for a private then one touring argentine teacher explained during a workshop that you can just ask an aunt or mother-in-law or neighbour.
  9. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    I think it varies, easier for a follower with an experienced leader.
    Cambridge had a three month rule before beginners were allowed on the dance floor, and it depends on how crowded the venue is.
  10. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I actually like this answer for followers. Leader's generally have "preferences" that it's really hard not to take to heart, especially when a follower is just starting out. Once I stopped listening to local leader "feedback" and just paid attention to what I knew I needed to work on, things got much better dancing socially and leader's finally gave me some respect.

    For leaders, I think it's a tougher question. I've seen some leaders totally confident in their "newbie-ness" go out after just a few lessons, stay in the middle and do fine. And I've seen leaders that still have issues after several years. For leaders, maybe keeping in mind the kind of space available at the milonga is also a good idea. If it's a very tiny dance floor, chances are a beginning leader is going to be at a loss for how to handle things and possibly make problems for others on a tiny floor (yep, saw and experienced this very recently) but they same leader may be fine on a floor with a larger floor (and possible room for a middle to develop).

    I would disagree with beginning anyone's asking for feedback at a milonga because of the "teaching taboo" cited so often. It doesn't matter if the person's a beginner, the person they are dancing with may not be and it's just my own opinion but I find it uncomfortable to be asked that in a milonga situation.
    NZ_Guy and Subliminal like this.
  11. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    If my first milonga was in Cambridge, I would not qualify. :)
  12. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    I definitely agree on this point. As much as it gets stated on here that tango isn't in the steps, you still have to have a basic vocabulary in order to well, dance. Sure you can always walk but what happens when there's a block in front of you? Plod in place? At the very least it helps to have the giro/molinette with a few entrances and exits for navigation for when you can't progress down the floor. And for the follower, knowing the feel of the giro and how to take rotational steps around the leader is a tango foundation.

    Then again, there are some milongas in my area that are more forgiving. One nearby has sooooo much open space, you really can just avoid all the other dancers without trouble.
  13. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    they created this rule/guideline because of a bad experience someone had who went with the expectation of being able to dance.
  14. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think to some extent this is also true for leaders: Confidence in your own dance is the key to social dancing.

    My general view of the key points for beginning leaders is roughly this:

    1) The core of social dancing is dancing _with the dancfloor_. I think that the idea that we are dancing only for our partner is at least somewhat misleading - we dance at least as much for the the couples around us.

    2) The core skill is navigation. Navigation is how we use the creative energy created by the limitations set by the dancefloor. A crowded milonga is a haiku. If you have more space you can go for a sonnet, and homeric epics are probably best reserved for performing on an empty dancefloor. Strong constraints are one of the easiest way to enhance and support creativity.

    Good navigation is also freedom. The way to be free is to not view other couples as obstacles, but as friends and support of the creative agenda - we are not in a gladiator race like in ben hur, but we are like a flock of birds or a school of fish. We have to repsect, and to some extent cherish the limitations that are implicit in our practice. A master thightrope walker is not a master tightrope walker because he steps of the rope, but instead he knows exactly what is possible while being on the rope, and does it effortlessly. The fact that i can run 30 feet faster and easier on level ground does not invalidate the skill required for walking 30 feet on a tightrope.

    4) The safest lane is the outermost lane - people walk on the outside lanes, and the people who are more stationary go to the middle. Of the walking lanes the outermost lane has people only on three sides, while the ones more inside have people on four sides. As a beginner it is possible to do a decent walking tango, but stationary tango is hard to pull off in enough variety to be fun for your partner and yourself.

    5) The only vocabulary needed is: walking (to move) and rocksteps (for everything else: turns, waiting in place, reconnecting with each other, reconnecting with the music), everything else is in the end adornments - it show off our skill in navigating the dancefloor and the music, and how connected we are by doing something more difficult than neccessary.

    Overall i think that 2 months is more than enough to get the skills for both leaders and followers to go to a milonga and have fun and be reasonably enjoyable partners, but i think the real key is as NZ_Guy pointed out to be at least somewhat comfortable and confident with ones dance, and how long that takes varies widely. The people who go to milongas and thrive without taking any lessons are convinced enough that they should be there, and that they are fun to dance with that it manages to convince their partners, too, almost independent of how they actually dance (i often think that this is at least part of the "men prefer dancing with pretty followers over skilled followers" pattern).

    </rant> ;)

    NZ_Guy likes this.
  15. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    But isn't the OP asking advice as a follower?
  16. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    I would get the opinion of an experienced dancer say 5 years minimum. Dance with him and ask his opinion. There are ladies who come to my class who I can dance round the floor with who have had a dozen lessons, but it would be a struggle for less experienced dancers, and also I know what to leave out. One is still getting to grips with the cross, but most of the basics she can do well.
  17. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think the OP is asking for advice for a couple - and i think you are right that probably neither follower nor leader advice is all that applicable for the OP and her husband.
    In some ways a very different question, as they are going to have a built in dance partner - they don't need to impress each other to be allowed to dance :). As Steve Pastor pointed out as long as they are able to somehow move down the line of dance they will be fine. Maybe even if they aren't - i have seen couples who by accident stuble into a milonga, decide that everybody looks friendly enough, and spend the evening watching and slow dancing prom style. And they seemed to have a blast. It probably again comes down more to how comfortable they are with their skills and the situation than how skilled they "objectivly" are.
    It is interesting that a lot of people seem to have more fun at milongas at the very beginning than later on (at least that happened to me) - the unconscious incompetence phase of learning is much more fun than either the the conscious incompetence or even the conscious competence phase....

    I guess for a couple the question is really twofold:
    1) How many lessons to have fun at a milonga dancing with each other?
    2) How many lessons to have fun at a milonga dancing with other people?
    That is probably very dependent on the milonga - at some milongas you will never get a dance with anybody if you arrive at a couple - and at most it will be more difficult than if you got there seperately. I think this part again has more to do with the social game, and not with anything one could pick up in a class.
    (I usually go to milongas by myself, so i have no meaningful experience with that part of the milonga culture - i am actually not sure who here goes dancing as a couple besides dchester?)

  18. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    ..have you been?
  19. Melody58

    Melody58 New Member

    No, not yet......practicing a lot though before we take the plunge.
  20. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I would recommend doing as some others have suggested and go to a few just to watch if you can. I know I did that back when my ex and I started. A least then you can get an idea of people interact and whether you would at least feel comfortable dancing with each other in the space. Dancing with others may just take more time, and one or the other of you may have an easier time slipping in to it. I was the one who slipped in easily after a couple months of lessons. I went to 2 cafe milongas and ended up dancing both times with people I had met in class. My ex stayed off to the side and did not care to dance for a couple of months after that. I would just recommend respecting whatever works for both of you.

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