How not to ask someone to dance

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

  1. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I don't think you did anything wrong by not dancing with her, although I don't know that she did anything wrong either. In your initial post, it sounded like you don't like women asking you to dance, but that was corrected in a subsequent post. Clearly something she did bothered you, especially if it was still effecting you one half hour later. I'm just not sure that I really understand what it was.

    In any case, no one is under any obligation to dance with someone that they don't want to dance with.
  2. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    On a side note...

    ~One of the big reasons for using the "cabeceo" is to avoid complications like this.

    ~A rejection to dance happens all the time, regardless of who asks, and should be no big deal.
  3. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Well, that's nice.

    Guilt-tripped? You asked for comments in your original post. Did you mean you only wanted comments that were supportive?

    The thing is, I've got a nasty feeling you're acting correctly within the social constraints of the AT scene. And I have a real problem, because I don't like these constraints, I think they're unfriendly and unwelcoming. Since it's unlikely the AT scene will change to meet my likes, I suspect I'll just have to get used to this culture, because I love the dance. But I reserve the right to be grumpy about it. :)
  4. piimapoika

    piimapoika Member

    I too am getting disaffected with Argentine tango because of some of the unpleasant attitudes of some of the people there (note I said "some" not "all"). One's body is not a sacred temple (or if it is, it's the sort of temple that's open to the public). It is simply improper for a man to turn down a woman's invitation, no matter what the circumstances. Never mind equal opportunities, that's just the way it is. I prefer to do my tango dancing in Finland these days. Once at the Vanhan Kellari in Helsinki I was buying a drink for my partner when another woman asked me to dance. Naturally I had to accept, even though the first lady was gasping with thirst. Of course, when I got back to the first lady she was quite amenable to the situation, as I had simply been observing the customs of the place.
  5. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    If someone is tired they deserve a break and that break should be respected no matter what. Lead or Follower. Opening up a question with "do you dance?" is like asking a heart surgeon while he's peering down at the wide open chest of his patient - are you a doctor? The response to that was correct, although couldn't see why the ensuing guilt the writer felt about dancing with another.

    Then I read the words "rules" and "constraints". Is this not a social event? Are we not leaving all the rules and constraints back in the office, school, etc. Escaping to a world - in this case, dancing - where there are no rules? (not to be read as social graces/good manners).

    This ought may be to be a Thread in itself but I shall include it here and ask anyway. Was having a drink with a (non-tango) teacher friend of mine who was moaning about a couple of disruptive students that he had deal to with. His question (more to himself, than me) was - "I do wonder if it is the classroom that turns a perfectly good behaving child into a complete and utter nightmare or it is the nightmare that comes into the class".

    Food for thought for me later as I pondered whether it is AT that turns perfectly nice people into misbehaving ones or is it that the misbehaving ones are merely attracted to the world of AT.
  6. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Sure. But personally, I'd have said that, and I'd have attempted to dance with the person asking at a later point, when I'd recovered. I realise this is just my personal approach - it's based on experience in other, friendlier, dance forms - but it's one I'm comfortable with.

    And in my opinion, it's extremely rude to, for example, refuse one person for tiredness and then suddenly dance with someone else - I know that didn't happen in this case, but potentially it could have.

    I agree it's a bit of a weird question, but clearly the answer upset both people, so possibly it could have been managed better on both sides. And remember that we're only hearing one side - we don't know what she was thinking or doing.

    Each person in a dispute always thinks that they are correct, and that the other person is wrong. That's why it's called a dispute.

    Errr, no?

    I assumed that AT had vast sets of social conventions, cabaceo etc. There's certainly been enough written about it, on here and other places...

    I think it's the learning process that makes us all grumpy :)

    There's no need, none at all, for AT to be an unfriendly scene (if it is) - but one key factor to make a scene friendly is if people are willing to dance with pretty much anyone* that asks - and if they can't at that moment, for injury / tiredness / etc., then following-up later.

    More refusals make a scene more unfriendly - that's pretty much axiomatic to me.

    * Apart from smellies, yankers, or pervs of course.
  7. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    You argumentative so-and-so, not guilt-tripped by you or anyone else here, but by a few of the fairer sex who seem to have the notion that it is their right to dance with me regularly regardless of my feelings on the matter.

    I appreciate the variety of arguments here, thank you all for you opinions. I am still undecided about the correct behaviour, because I am cursed with a certain amount of concern for the wellbeing of others. I know what would have happened in Argentina, but this is most definitely not Argentina.

    I do know that I go to milongas as a partly social activity. If I went into a bar and a woman demanded I buy her a drink I would probably tell her to go away. I certainly don't pay my milonga entry fee to ensure everyone else has a good time at my expense, nor do I expect everyone to like me or dance with me. I do not relish making other people miserable.

    What if she causes me harm when I dance with her? What if she kicks me in the shins because she thinks ganchos are fun and pops them in wherever she likes? What if she hangs off my shoulders like a sack of cement? What if she habitually uses her head as part of the embrace causing strain to my neck? If I allow that on a weekly basis, I'll need a chiropracter. Etiquette requires me to not "teach" her the error of her ways in the milonga, because it's not nice.

    Let's turn it round, suppose I am a creepy smelly evil man who crushes followers, has no sense of rhythm and treads on toes all the time. Are you obligated to dance with me if I ask?

    ---

    Heather, I think any form of authority or regulation brings out bad behaviour in some people. Some of the nightmares are absolutely fine in other classes with different teachers. It's a combination of dominance and respect for whomever is calling the shots.

    In an AT context, I think misbehaviour is indulged because there is very little penalty to bad behaviour. You've got to go a long way to get barred from a venue or to the point where nobody will dance with you.
  8. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    "If it is". "If it is"..ha, ha, ha. Are you kidding? I don't know of the scene in American, mainland Europe or even outside of London but London - Central London as in Zones 1-3 can be utter hellish. Overblown egos the size of an Oscars Night outting. (Negrachas, the Dome immediately spring to mind). One well known London teacher who shall remain nameless is so taken back by the attitude here that he's planning to up sticks and go to Holland. Whilst watching a class last Friday, I heard one woman shout at her male partner: "don't dare talk to me like that" and stormed off. (Okay, I don't know them, they could've been married and extended the marital row about his affair into the tango class). But I shall maintain what I say. This is a social dance, not the U.N., not a corporate law office where deals are being brokered. No excuse for bad behaviour and a whole list of rules drawn up, forcing people to adhere to. Social etiquette is al that is needed. May I, thankyou, please and sorry. My daily reality check: SkyNews. And all the horrors that occurring in the world.

    And no... if a lead is tired and he's resting - we should expect that space in which he is in. It's his pesonal space and not ours to claim or own or be master over. It's his resting place so leave him be. Women can decline so why can't the man?
  9. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    On a related note, if you're going to be truly egalitarian in your dance community, you might as well have a partner rota. Eliminate choice and preference totally from the equation. Of course people find ways to manipulate that sort of system too, thinking of the queue-jumping and strategic positioning that goes on in lessons which operate a steady change of partners.
  10. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Totally agree with you.

    Heather, I think any form of authority or regulation brings out bad behaviour in some people. Some of the nightmares are absolutely fine in other classes with different teachers. It's a combination of dominance and respect for whomever is calling the shots.
    [/quote]

    I guess you're right. But do you think it is merely the person touching the wall with their finger even though the sign clearly reads "Wet Paint" or is it mostly do with a sense of competitiveness in the air, be it the frock, shoes or the competence/skill in the dancer. Something to "show off" rather than just be in their centre (sorry..yoga teacher coming out here) and enjoy themselves in their own skin and the person with whom they are dancing? Or maybe we should just blame YouTube - too much watching and comparing , wishing, hoping, expecting, demanding...
  11. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    No. You had to do nothing. You had a choice--to be rude to your partner, or to be rude to the woman who asked you to dance. You selected the former.
  12. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Well, even I'd think that's too extreme a position.

    Yankers and pervs, you can and should always refuse these, for self-preservation reasons - you've no obligation to be injured or to be hit on, under any circumstances. Similarly, smellies.

    But, in my opinion, "ability" should never be a criterion - as in, you should never, never refuse someone because you don't think they're "good enough" for you. That way lies elitism and hotshottery, and I'll have no part of it.
  13. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    To be fair, I'd also have said "I'm just getting XYZ a drink, can we make it the next one" - but then, it's important to actually follow through on that and make every attempt to dance with that person later on.
  14. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I said "if", because I simply don't know - I've only ever been to a few milonga venues (although I've been to both Negracha and the Dome), so I'm not experienced enough to express any sort of definitive opinion.

    But I'm a veteran of the Salsa scene, and that's more unfriendly (in those areas) than the AT scene seems to be. Maybe it's just Central London that's unfriendly - certainly the outer parts (e.g. Paul Bottomer's venue in Southgate) are extremely friendly.

    Except that there are "rules" in the scene - for example, cabaceo - which really aren't obvious to the novice.

    Each dance culture does have conventions, and these conventions differ - so yes, you have to learn them. For example, stealing a partner in the middle of a dance is considered stylish in Lambada / Zouk, I believe.
  15. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    Speaking as an outsider to London, we (that is brave tango commuters) very rarely venture into London alone. If we turn up mob-handed we know we're with people who will make our night go ok, even if the locals are totally unwelcoming. Followers in particular need to bring a favoured leader with them or risk spending the whole night getting a numb bum.

    Some of my best nights in London (new year at Negracha for example) were primarily because a good helping of friendly faces were present to talk to and dance with. Also, I've found the atmosphere tends to lighten up as the hour gets late (midnight onwards). I think people have got tired of posturing by then.

    For good or ill, the cabeceo is not a rule, simply because it's not observed round these parts. A universally practiced cabeceo is probably much more balanced for both leaders and followers, since both must actively look for a dance, but I would not want to see such things getting in the way of normal conversations.

    On Heather's sub-topic of competitiveness vs being a contrarian, I wonder if those without the natural aptitude and/or willpower to compete in line with their ambition find other ways to draw attention to themselves. This includes being cocky, awkard and disruptive. Yes, we are all competitive. It takes astonishing levels of enlightenment or a total lack of ambition to accept who you are and be happy with it (really, not just saying you are).
  16. Tanguera

    Tanguera New Member

    I am genuinely asking, since I'd like to know: which kind of approach do leaders like? I usually try to make eye contact (non necessarily a mirada and cabeceo thing) and then eventually ask or wait to be asked.

    A few times I've pretended to be standing in the line for the toilette to avoid a man who does not ask: he grabs you and starts dancing with you, with or without your approval; when he stops with you he catches the next girl he finds until he has danced with all the young ladies in the milonga. He let followers feel like a thing to be used and not like a person to dance with.
    But I never locked myself into the toilet to avoid a dance!


    Leaders and followers tired about lack of leaders, come to Geneva: there's a lack of followers here! ;)
  17. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    Well Tanguera, speaking only for myself, the mechanism by which you ask is not as important as the attitude of it.

    Just talking to me will probably work, although it might take a while. Usually us guys will crack and invite you to dance within a track or two, because we can tell when you're angling for a dance. Women do not normally strike up conversation with me purely to hear my beautiful orations. If I like dancing with you, you won't be kept waiting long.

    If your need to dance is more urgent (tune you like, other predators are circling), or you're really keen, then priority one is to be positive and honest.

    "Do you dance?" -> Demanding and critical.
    "We haven't danced together in ages" -> Potentially an accusation of neglected responsibilities. Only use on absent friends.

    Someone mentioned a little while back: "I really like this track". I think that's a great opener that will either lead to interesting conversation, or enthusiastic dancing. I've responded favourably to being pounced on by ladies who are absolutely bursting with enthusiasm for a particular tango, because the enthusiasm is infectious.

    If it's not life and death, then we may need a few moments to adjust our train of thought from wherever it was to the prospect of dancing with you. Boxing me in will make me defensive, and so will obviously applying pressure with aggressive posture and tone.

    A little flattery will get you a long way, you don't need to worship, but one nice comment is a big step in the right direction.

    Bottom line, if you're nice to me in any way at all but I don't like your dancing, there is still a good chance I will be nice in return and dance anyway, just as I will tend to the needs of my friends.
  18. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    First and only time I was asked to dance in such a way turned into charades. The chap positioned himself almost between my friend and I whilst we were talking. Said nothnig, so we were forced to look up. He gazed at me and did this "over here, this way" gesture with his hands. His hands folded behind his back. I got up and immediately went down on my hands and knees, tongue out panting and made like a dog. I was told this is the way that its done. I've never seen it before - is that really the way it is done. Like some Metropolitian Police Dog Handler?


    "....find other ways to draw attention to themselves. This includes being cocky, awkard and disruptive."

    Nail. Head. Hammer. Hit.
  19. piimapoika

    piimapoika Member

    My point is, that there is no equality in the dance hall. A woman may turn a man down for any reason or none, but a man may not turn down a woman however obnoxious she is.
  20. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    I've been turned down by leaders (strangely never by followers when I am leading). The leaders' usual response to my request is "..er sorry, I'm waiting for my partner to come back from.." or "...having a rest, right now". My way to deal with this is to view it the same as when I am in a shop and I ask if the assistant has "...this in a size 12". She shakes her head, no. I say "okay" and walk off. And try the next store.

    Equality in the office? Yes. Equality in a milonga? As well, yes.

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