Tango Argentino > How not to ask someone to dance

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by kieronneedscake, Oct 1, 2007.

  1. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    Well folks, I had a very unpleasant experience this weekend, turning down a request to dance. I thought I'd share it in the vain hope that someone will learn something.

    I say request to dance, it felt like a demand. I'd been chilling out for a while, watching the dance floor, keeping an eye on the absolutely fantastic teacher with whom I wanted just one dance before the end of the night, but otherwise being passive. It had been a long day of workshops and practice, it would not be an understatement that I had been on my feet for 6 hours. Into my vision she strode.

    "Do you dance?" she spoke in imperious tone.
    My response was approximately "I'd rather not, I've been dancing all day and I'm really tired."
    She then declared that she thought "the only reason someone should not dance is when they are sweaty or drunk" and stalked off.

    I accept that there is an element of truth to her words, in an ideal world we would all indulge each other and live in a wonderful happy dancing eutopia.

    My truth is that she had a big no coming from the start. I'm a man/leader, I'm used to doing the asking, if I'd wanted to dance, and wanted to dance with her, I would have gone straight over and asked. Instead, I sat there watching the world go by. Warning numero uno.

    Secondly, her tone was demanding, her attitude aggressive. I've had this phrase used on me before. "Do you dance?". Not "Would you like to dance?" or "Would you like to dance with me?", or even the guilty pleasures of "I saw you dancing earlier, <insert compliment>, will you dance with me?".

    Perhaps a little light conversation first, to coax me into friendliness. I don't mind enduring a little hardship for friends. I don't even think she was smiling at the time.

    I hadn't seen her dancing before, I'd never seen her before, a total unknown quantity.

    Should I have given her a lacklustre tanda? Should I have danced for one track before politely (and yet rudely, because it's all about delivery over words used) returning her to her seat? Should I have just offered a flat-out no with no justification, since that can be read as making excuses? Should I dance at all when my heart is not in it?

    The bottom line is that her asking me made both of our nights worse. It took me a good 30 minutes to get out of the argumentative mood it provoked. When some appealing music came on a little later I felt I should suppress my urge to dance with someone else in the room in order not to add insult to rejection, so I missed out on some potentially pleasing dances.

    I gave no signs, no cabaceo-like behaviour, what do I have to do to not be asked? Do I really have to go and hide in the toilets like the women do?
  2. Tanguera

    Tanguera New Member

    Nothing wrong if you danced later with someone else: you are not obliged to dance with everyone just because you've been asked.

    In situations like that a friend of mine uses to answer: "No, because you asked bad.", I don't like such a direct approach, but it works.
  3. Tricia

    Tricia New Member

    and the half way through a sandwich moment...

    No answers, I'm afraid, though I would love to know how we best get recognition of how undesirable some of these behavious are.

    Imagine my surprise when I saw someone, this summer, ask one visiting teacher to dance, during the tea break, just as he had bitten into a sandwich. He was very polite but there was a hint in his initial body language that it wasn't a great time. But, no, she stood there with her hand out, watching as he with good grace put the other half sandwich back on his plate, swallowed quickly to clear his mouth, found something to wipe his hands on and joined her on the floor.

    I have no idea how well they knew each other, if at all. And yes, it was at Bramshaw where the tea is a great part of an already great experience. I'm sure we all recognise that feeling of desire: I have found myself having to physically restrain myself from running after some leaders, whining like a puppy. But please.......
  4. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Wow, that was just plain rude, any way you look at it. Even if she'd been watching you all night and was just dying to dance, and finally resorted to asking you herself (not that I've ever done that :oops:), that's no way to go about asking.

    I always feel funny about asking a guy to dance. I know, I know. I've read numerous times that guys tend to like being asked, for once not having to be the one to risk rejection. But still, there's an element of, "If he wanted to be dancing with someone he'd be on the floor. And if he'd wanted to dance with me, he'd have asked me already." Liberated woman and all that aside, I still haven't found the stones to be able to do it. I will ask friends, where I know there's always the "come find me if I don't find you" thing between us. But other than that? I'm chicken.

    The few times I have gotten up the courage to ask someone, I usually use the line, "Would you do me the honor?" with a hand outstretched. Thoughts on that approach? But even with that, I'm careful to approach them when they look amenable to dancing.
  5. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    Peaches, unless there's some special rule for AT, that's certainly a very acceptable way to ask a guy. Know you'd likely get a smile and a yes (or a not right now, but maybe later, if tired), from me and any lead I know.
  6. DeanofDance

    DeanofDance New Member

    Your Right? You're Right

    There is no obligation to accept a dance from anybody at any time. As for the leader always asking for the dance, my watch says it's three quarters past 2007.

    You did nothing wrong. The legitamate reason for turning somebody down is not wanting to dance that dance with him or her for any or no particular reason.
  7. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    And that's the thing... AT is riddled with odd rules. Most seem to be broken with some frequency in my neck of the woods (we don't much use the cabeceo, men will actually ask!). But AT has a ton of "rules."

    I still get hung up on the idea that if he'd wanted to be dancing at that moment, he would be (or, at least looking for a partner, instead of sitting there). And that if he'd wanted to dance with me, he would have...since he hasn't asked, he probably doesn't.
  8. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    I'll stick with my ballroomm and latin world (and easier as a guy of course). As long as I'm polite and I've showered recently, never had an issue. :)
  9. Tricia

    Tricia New Member

    How do you like this music?

    Is one of my favourite ways to raise the subject of why we aren't already dancing, when he hasn't made eye contact from afar or even just asked me to dance. Without, I hope, too much pressure.

    Often the reply is a smile and a would you like to dance. But it can be that he doesnt like the music for <whatever reason> not comfortable with vals or milonga yet or isn't keen on modern or traditional or just wants to listen. or whatever. Given that I will only get one tanda a night with most leaders I don't want to waste that chance on music that doesn't work for the leader.

    Either way, this question usually works well for me, resulting in either a dance or an interesting conversation. Whats not to like?
  10. timbp

    timbp New Member

    From my non-tango experience, I would say that is the ideal approach.

    Sometimes my answer is "I like the music, but I'm not sure I can dance to it". Then it's your choice to try to a dance, with me "leading", but looking to you for interpretation of the music (ie, I lead what you suggest I should lead).
  11. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Dude, the correct response to this question is to say "yes" and return to whatever activity you were engaged in prior to being accosted.
  12. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    The age old question. I usually try to catch someone's attention as I approach (me male). There always will be uncouth people and there always will be situations where I will be rejected. I go with the flow, and use my unpleasant experiences to guide me away from those who help create them. ;-)
  13. Me

    Me New Member

    This is why many women sit very unhappily throughout much of the evening, scared to death to ask anybody to dance with them. I become irritated with some women (and with myself) for not crossing the room and asking a man to dance, but this is a perfect example of an attitude that keeps us in our chairs.

    This sounds like catty bragging gossip from stuck-up women. I don't think anybody is realistically going to be hiding in a toilet to avoid dances because they're so wonderful and popular. Even if they're the best dancer in the room there are generally so many options for the leads to choose from that the ladies do get some rest.


    I grant you, the woman who asked you to dance was quite rude in her reply to your rejection, but I would like to suggest that you reevaluate some of your possible misconceptions about the mindset of the female dancer within the social dance setting.

    Honestly, I don't see anything wrong with asking somebody if they dance. You were sitting. You say you had never seen her dance and did not know who she was - perhaps it was the same for her. Perhaps you were rude to her in not even giving her a chance to ask you to dance by cutting her off at the pass with the "I'm tired" response? Perhaps it was you who put an abrupt end to any polite conversation the two of you could have engaged in? (These are all just suggestions - I was not there!) :)
  14. jfm

    jfm Active Member

    There are a massive load of people who don't understand the concept of 'asking'. to ask is a request, it is not an automatic result that you will get the answer you want.

    Just because you ask doesn't mean I will say yes. Mostly I will but often I don't want to dance, or i don't want to dance with the issuer of the invitation.

    No one has a 'right' over some one elses body. i actually feel insulted when someone makes presumptive advances to me. It is my body and I decide what I do with it. Same goes for when i DO NOT want to dance in close embrace with some people.

    People every where, get real- you have to make someone want to dance with you before you can expect them to say yes.
  15. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member


    It's possible that she was nervous as hell for asking, for daring to ask someone, and that her nervousness communicated itself as brusqueness. So much of this stuff is subjective after all, and dependent on body language and "codes".

    My general feeling is, anyone close to the dancing should be fair game, so long as they're not obviously un-askable due to talking / drinking / eating / whatever.

    Whilst I accept that this reflects the normal Tango attitude, I don't like it - I'd much prefer AT to be a scene where men and women equally ask. In my experience, that leads to a much more friendly atmosphere.

    Fair enough, there are ways of asking. Personally I utter a Neanderthal-like grunt with a gesture, it works for me :D

    But surely she's paying you a compliment by asking you in the first place? Sure, the exact form of the compliment could be better, but it's still a compliment.

    Personally, I don't feel you should have done any of the above.

    If I were genuinely too tired to dance, I'd have made an excuse then looked her up later. But you clearly weren't too tired to dance with the teacher, so what you're saying is, effectively, she wasn't good enough to dance with when you're a bit tired.

    I personally think you should have danced with her.

    It must be difficult to be so wonderful and popular.
  16. jhpark

    jhpark Member

    like jfm says, it's my body you're asking to dance with. if i don't want to dance with you for whatever reason, i'll say no. for all the times i've been snubbed by women for whatever reason, i'm happy to return the favor. :p and there definitely is a sliding scale of tiredness. if i am tired but a favorite asks me to dance, i'll say, can you wait for me a minute, i need to catch my breath, and if someone i don't know or don't like (and who isn't hot) asks me to dance, I'll say no, I'm tired.

    don't pretend you ladies don't do it too. i know you do... i just believe in equal opportunity pettiness. :p
  17. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    I definitely agree with the sliding scale part. Even after i say to myself I'm done for the night, and just to point of watching, certain women will always get a yes from me, or at least a " as soon as i catch my breath". Whether they're a great follow, a crappy follow but a friend, whatever, some people get special consideration.
  18. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    to be fair, some of our own DFers have admitted to doing this... i don't think it's because they think they're so wonderful & popular, but because in the circumstances as they see it, it may be easier for them than saying no.
  19. SlowDancer

    SlowDancer New Member

    My sentiments exactly. I don't know anything about the rules associated w/ AT but, in general, I don't do much asking. To me it really doesn't have so much to do with whether or not you are "liberated." In the commonly accepted usage of that word, I would have to rate myself as "extremely" liberated. But I'm about as comfortable asking a guy to dance as I would be asking a guy out on a date. Which is to say, it wouldn't be a "never" thing but it would be a relatively rare occurrence. I have all kinds of reasons for this that I probably couldn't articulate if I tried, especially in this forum. But you expressed the essence of my feelings on this topic perfectly.
  20. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    In my defence:

    I did in fact dance with two other ladies that night who asked me, one of whom was a stranger, and neither of which I found sexually attractive. I don't mind followers asking, but just as I have been rejected on numerous occasions, I reserve the right to say no if there is a possibility that I will spend the next 5-10 minutes trying desperately not to be pulled over or contorted.

    My beef is not with followers who ask, but with the ones who do so in the most haughty manner. She didn't invite me to dance. She demanded I dance with her, and if I'm wrong about that, she sorely needs to learn to pretend she is confident and friendly, just as I am sure she can pretend her feet hurt if invited to dance by an undesirable.

    I did not get a dance with the aforementioned wonder-teacher because I maintained a respectful distance while she chatted with old acquaintances, before being gazumped by a pushier leader.

    I know the women do it, I've seen them do it, they've told me they do it. Often it is a defence mechanism to avoid the horrifying leaders, or otherwise get a breather without having to tell men to go away.

    Some dances are a once in a lifetime experience. Some dancers are worth digging deep for because they will reward you a hundred times over. Guest teachers are a rare commodity in a social dancing context, and I am acutely aware that if I don't actively seek dances with them, then it will be an opportunity lost. Left to chance, there will be no opportunity, because there are others who will take it. It's a competitive environment.

    I try to do my fair share for the community at large, but it is easiest when I am full of life.

    Yes, it's terrible. Popularity is largely a given when your community is short on leaders, and you get guilt-tripped for taking a breather and reprimanded for not managing to dance with everyone at least once a fortnight.

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