Tango Argentino > Snotty Subculture

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Gssh, Mar 25, 2013.

  1. B. Reguise

    B. Reguise New Member

    Take a partner with you. Then there's no need to know the secret handshake. DP and I only do milongas together. And we've occasionally told people we're just beginners if we want to stick to ourselves. No fuss no muss.
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I hear you and that makes sense. :cool:

    I have two concerns with that approach, though. One. Finding a dance partner is not always easy. Two. If I take a partner and dance exclusively with them then I don't have the chance to learn from others. I think this is especially true with beginners. I pick a partner who's at my level, dance with him, and we reinforce each other's bad habits. Not saying that that has anything to do with you, BReguise. But I have seen that, often with married/committed couples who feel that they can only dance with each other. They're limited by the dance ability/knowledge of the least talented person in their couple.
    B. Reguise likes this.
  3. B. Reguise

    B. Reguise New Member

    Point taken. But it is a viable option for dealing with certain milongas/situations. Nothing wrong with toughing it out if you prefer.
    pygmalion likes this.
  4. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I think that a good strategy can be to go to a new or unfamiliar milonga as a member of two/three couples (who are very roughly at the same level as dancers). If you sit together at a table, and dance with each other, others will see you dancing (but not exclusively with one partner) and this considerably increases your chances of dancing with a wider variety of partners, if that is what you want. Even if the regulars don't include you in their dancing, you will still be dancing as much as you like and with at least three people.

    Getting to know a few people in the local community can be very useful. Being a regular member of an established class means that you get to know, and dance with, a variety of people, and it soon gets easier to get dances, but the barriers to entry can seem otherwise dauntingly high to an unknown solo dancer.
    bordertangoman and sixela like this.
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I like that idea, UKDancer. Dance buddies are always a good thing. :)
  6. tangobro

    tangobro Active Member

    Kurt (the salesman in the previous Tangocynic video) is the "tango alpha male" referred to but never seen in the Tangocynic video series

    some of the series was posted on DF, but the embeds no longer work
    Steven123 and twnkltoz like this.
  7. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

  8. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi alpha :cool:
    dchester likes this.
  9. carol frayne

    carol frayne New Member

    I have yet to attend a Milonga although I have been taking Argentine Tango lessons here in the States for two and a half years with a small group of local dancers and I have to say that whilst I have enjoyed every minute learning I have not enjoyed their company. They were a break away group from the usual round of ball room dancing which we have here and they have just about broken our spirit with their unwillingness to be even a bit nice towards me and others who are newbies at the AT. They are such a clique that they don't tell us anything about what is going on anywhere else, they do not invite us along even after a long session to join them for dinner or even speak to us when we are at the lessons. We don't mind not being included but being polite whilst we are there doesn't cost anything. We keep going because we love the dance. We even have people who attend classes who will not change partners so that anyone without a partner can actually learn to dance. We are split into two groups, newbies first and then the rest and as we have progressed we have been included into the intermediate group but nothing changes with them. I am dreading my first Milonga if as a lot of people have stated those who think they know better do not want to dance with any new comers! What a shame as it is such a fabulous dance! I hope other groups will have a better experience than we have had.
  10. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    carol frayne, reading your report I cannot help but wonder: where is your tango instructor in all that, and why he seems OK with the fact that, after over 2 years of classes, you still have not attended a milonga? Tango is a social dance, and neither of that happening to a student should be OK for a teacher who is doing his/her job, an important part of which being helping your integration into the tango community.
  11. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Since I don't know why things are the way they are there, all I can say is something is really wrong.

    Are you going to practicas? If not, start doing that ASAP. I also think you should go to a milonga, as 2 years is way too long. However, it's not at all unusual for a newbie to sit a lot at a milonga, so be prepared for that possibility. It's a shame, but in some communities, people want to see you dance before they will dance with you, and if no one asks you to dance, they'll never see if you can dance (a Catch 22).

    Thus, if possible, go with a small group, (a couple leaders and followers). That way you'll have a couple people to dance with, and if people see that you actually can dance, others will take a chance on you.
    Subliminal and carol frayne like this.
  12. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I am not sure what is going on in your community, but i find it very strange to take lessons for more than two years not yet having attended milongas yet. I would expect people to start going to milongas after between 3 to 6 months, and discussions here about the difficulties of newcomers at milongas are mainly aimed at cases where it true that the newcomer is not as expereinced in tango than the level of the milonga overall. I find it hard to imagine a community where only people with more than 3 years experience go to milongas - i fear that when you go to your first milonga you will be amazed at the low level of dancing, the complete opposite problem most people have at their first milonga.

    In general my suggestions for a "first" milonga experience would be:

    1) Don't plan to go to a "first" milonga - go for your "first three milongas" at the same place. Just like it takes a few songs to warm up ones tango in a tanda it takes a few visits to a milonga to get to know people, the see how people interact, to be seen by people.
    2) Be reconciled with the idea that you might only get a few tandas the whole evening, and try to not take it as a sign that people are judging. Milongas are tricky to navigate for leaders, too - there are roughly 4 tandas an hour, which means that if i dance continiously i have 12 tandas. This means i will dance with between 12 and 6 followers, depending on how often we will extend a single tanda to two tandas because it works very well. I guess there are usually about 3 of my good friends there, that i will dance with for sure (or sit down a tanda and chat, which for this exercise is the same thing), and then lets assume that there is 2 followers that i have really enjoyed dancing with before, and i will try to make sure that i dance with them again. And now i already have a list of 5 followers (10 tandas), and there are only 2 tandas left, and while I am trying to be conscious of new people in the community, and people who i haven't seen in a while, and so on, but i will not dance with everybody.
    And all this presupposes that i have the energy to dance every single tanda during the whole evening. Some evening i might only be up to 3 or 4 tandas.
    3) Try to enjoy the dancing - (this is probably more applicable for beginning leaders)- it is easy to get frustrated because nothing seems to work - try to avoid feeling that - your dance partner is there to enjoy herself, and simple (or even no) vocabulary danced with joy is much, much better for this purpose than supreme skill presented with anger.
    4) Try to enjoy the not-dancing - there are dancers to watch, and music to listen to. When i am travelling somewhere i usually try to go to a milonga, and often i don't get to dance all that much. And i am consciously enjoying myself - seeing people dance is the only way to really train ones eye and ear, and to get ideas for ones own dance (sometimes by seeing things that i really don't want to do - there are quite a few pieces of vocabulary that i have discarded over time because they did not seem to work on the dancefloor for anybody ,ever).
    Also, in a vicious circle, if i don't dance, and get frustrated because of that, i get less "attractive", and that makes it much less likely that i will catch a followers eyes.

    Also, as a aside: I would in general not expect people to be all that sociable at a group class - unlike my experiences with folkdance where learning/practicing is its own thing, and where the community comes together, i find tango classess to be often more focussed on just being classess, i.e. people come, learn, leave. The social/community aspect is very much at milongas. And in many cases the people who run milongas and the people who teach are not the same people, and often there is more or less politics involved in who teaches the pre-milonga classess (if they exist). To get socially involved with people pretty much requires to go to the same milongas.

    Overall i think you should start going to milongas as soon as you can - there should be plenty of people who will be more than happy to dance with you.


    Also: Check out who else teaches AT in your community - i think that after 1 year or so it is time to branch out a bit and experience other styles of tango - versatility in technique helps dealing with the wide range of styles and skill levels present at milongas.
    carol frayne likes this.
  13. carol frayne

    carol frayne New Member

    I am grateful to those who replied about the situation at milongas. I also heard recently from a friend who went to her first milonga in Augusta that the people in their group were warm and friendly and that she was glad she had not read any negative posts before going which would have tainted her thoughts on the people who attend them. I have suggested to the group that we start having people visit us for demonstration dances as well as classes and so we will have to wait and see what happens if they will go for it.
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I just got a new old book by Lauré Haile as part of my continuing research in to the early history of West Coast swing, and I thought of you when reading Lauré's account of wanting to dance with the good dancers who would only dance with each other, rather than the average dancers her mother danced with. She sat near them, smiled, said hello, and waited, and waited, and...

    Finally someone was stood up by his partner and in desperation he asked Lauré to dance. Slowly, after that, when the good people realized she was pretty good herself, she started to be asked more and more.

    This was ballroom dance in Los Angeles in the 30s, but the more things change...
  15. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    There is a tendency for groups with high skill to keep out those with low skill even if the low skilled express interest in joining. This is because those with low skill will dilute the talent of the group and thus make it less effective overall. This phenomenon is observed in academic study groups, work collaboration, nurse floors, actors, dancers, musicians, etc. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

    There are other reasons for social exclusion such as reducing the competition for mate choice but that's too far off topic.
  16. carol frayne

    carol frayne New Member

    Maybe those of us who are not looking for a mate should wear a badge stating so thus we might have more men asking us to dance if they don't feel so threatened! My own "mate" doesn't dance and doesn't want to and so for me it is a challenge but I am always grateful to dance with anyone who asks purely because I love the dance and some and because everyone has a different style to teach us more. Love to Tango.........!
  17. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    I cannot confirm this. As long as the low skilled dancers are cool and conceited enough (or bloody young and handsome, respectively) the high skilled group will usually compromise.
  18. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    IME men don't feel threatened by a woman's marital status but rather by women who have clearly superior dance skills. But YMMV.
  19. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    IMO, that would mostly apply to beginning men. Experienced men don't typically have a problem asking whoever to dance.

    I will say that sometimes, people have very different opinions on who the best dancers are. For example, a guy that's into the embrace is going to look for someone who appears to have a great embrace, rather than being concerned with how flashy her boleos are.
    c955 likes this.
  20. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    My wife was wearing just such a badge in 2000 (in the form of a 2 year old child, which I often took on the floor for a spin at a tanda), and she could just as well have hung a 'private property, no trespassers, hunting all year round' sign around her neck. So few people invited her from that moment on (even when we went without our son) that she got fed up with the local scene and quit dancing.

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