Social Tango for Beginners

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Gssh, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member

    In the context of earlier threads i have been thinking about what i feel is a good approach to enjoy dancing tango and minimize going insane and having drama while finding ones footing in the community and dance.

    This is geared to people starting out in tango, and like all rules they can be broken once you understand how they work and what they do. I personally have seen my view of tango and the community shift quite a lot over time, so i think waiting till one gets out of the beginner stage into an intermediate stage (after 4 or 5 years?) to do so might be a good idea. At least i should have waited that long :)

    1) Do not date people you meet on the dancefloor.
    2) Make friends with people of your own gender/role - they are not competition, but allies. They are only people who really understand your experiences at the milongas.
    3) Don't compare your skill level with the skill level of other people - a lot of the important things are almost invisible, and specific to a couple, i.e. not dependent on the leaders skill, or the followers skill, but on how both their strenghts and weaknesses combine. Also their approach to tango might be so completely different from yours that you won't be able to see what they are doing till you have some exposure to that approach yourself.
    4) Don't wonder about why some people do or don't dance with you - with a very high likelihood it is random. Remember that their perspective is very different from yours - to you they either accepted or rejected you - for them they danced the 10 tandas of an evening with 10 out of the however many people they could have danced with, and took a break sometime during the milonga
    5) Remember that liking to dance with someone is not transitive - your best dance of the evening might have been their worst
    6) Be generous with your dances, but make sure that you are still having fun yourself
    7) If you are not having fun go home
    8) Not dancing is better than dancing badly - get some water, get some fresh air, chat with friends. Forcing yourself to dance when you are not feeling it will lead into a downward sprial of feeling it even less
    9) Don't obsess why you don't enjoy dancing with some people - dance chemistry and compatibility of dance preferences is a fickle thing.
    10) If you don't think you enjoy dancing with some people make an effort every half year or so to check in with them - maybe your preferences have converged
    11) Be aware that a lot of preferences are incompatible - it is impossible to heed all technical advice simultaneously. Find common themes between different approaches and work on that, and don't worry too much about contradictions. Things fall into place over time.

    Comments? Things that i forgot? Things that are completely wrongheaded and based on my idiosyncrasies?

    Gssh
     
    AnnaN likes this.
  2. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    I like ## 3, 4, 8.
     
  3. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    I wish to add citing my own post from way back:

    I think it is good to have (an)other hobby(ies), beside tango, as an outlet. It might be inconceivable when one's tango obsession is at its full swing, but in the long run it is all about balance.

    Also, I believe there must be something about tango that you enjoy right away, right now. It is not " when I get better", "take that workshop", "after a trip to Buenos Aires", "after I can become a teacher", "when such and such will ask me to dance", it is right here, right now.
    Of course I am not saying you shouldn't try to improve your dancing and the situation around you, but unless it makes you happy the way you are, the way it is right now, and unless it happens regularly (despite of occasional bad nights) I don't see why continue to go on.
     
  4. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    There's truth in this, IME. People who remain and struggle with tango are often the ones who were bitten by the tango bug early on. People who are waiting for something else to push them into tango usually don't have the devotion that it takes to learn.
     
  5. jfm

    jfm Active Member

    Spot on.
     
  6. jfm

    jfm Active Member


    You have a point, I have heard a lot of mutterings from beginners about wanting to dance with people but not being good enough yet turning in to "I'm going to get loads of private lessons and practice everyday until they're desperate to dance with me... and then I'll say no" I always try to say: why don't you focus on the dancing that you are doing now and try to enjoy the moment rather than focusing on the dances you will never do.
    Unless the followers have given up on self development, they will always be chasing a moving target. It's futile and robs them of the fun of it all.
     
    AndaBien likes this.
  7. Mladenac

    Mladenac Active Member

    It's a one of things I learned dancing tango.
    Teachers should taught them at school.
    But some can be to energetic at the beginning wanting to do all the boleos and sacadas they see on the dance floor.
     
  8. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I like all your advice Gssh!

    I'll add one I learned the hard way:

    Don't be afraid to turn down someone you REALLY REALLY wanted to dance with if he asks you when you know in your heart you (and/or your feet) are "done" for the night.

    If you had already decided that you were tired, sore or just no longer dancing well for whatever reason, don't figure you're "up for one more" just because HE finally asked you after all these months, years, tandas that night, whatever. You won't dance as well as you know you could, and even if he doesn't notice or care, YOU'LL be wondering if he does (which certainly doesn't help one's dancing!). Plus of course, he might actually care quite a bit, figure you stink, and never ask you again.
     
  9. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    (of course, the visitng teacher from the other side of the world is an exception... you might not get another chance! :)
     
  10. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    This is a really good point. Leaders and followers should not dance when they don't feel the anticipation, the pleasure, the excitement of dancing with the potential partner. If you don't feel you can give your best but you do want to dance, give your sincere apology and ask for another opportunity.
     
  11. piimapoika

    piimapoika Member

    I don't agree: since I was 14 (I am now 65) I have only ever dated (and married) ladies I met on the parquet.
    The trouble is, if you do reject him, he will probably never ask you again anyway. I wouldn't.
     
    opendoor likes this.
  12. Mladenac

    Mladenac Active Member

    Verbal communication can do miracles. ;)
    Maybe she won't dance with you but your next dancing might be more thrilling.
     
  13. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    This is the key thing. ^

    Basically, if you turn the guy down, without a believable explanation, the assumption is that you don't like dancing with him, so you are less likely to be asked again, (as most guys prefer to dance with people that actually do like dancing with them).

    If you are tired (or whatever the reason is), just tell him, and also add that you hope he asks again at the next milonga (or whatever the appropriate time is).
     
  14. sixela

    sixela Active Member

    I'll be sure to tell my wife, but I'm afraid you're more than 20 years late with that advice ;-).
     
    Gssh likes this.
  15. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I think for you the advice would be not to date people you meet on the dance floor NOW. ;)
     
    sixela and Nathan like this.
  16. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    If I'm too tired to dance and the person asking me doesn't respect that, then maybe I wouldn't enjoy dancing with him as much as I thought... especially if I made it clear that I WOULD accept his invite if I weren't already totally pooped or hurting.

    This is actually not a hypothetical for me... I recently at the end of a very long night tried to turn someone down that I normally enjoy dancing with (and had already danced with that night!) However, he needled me into another tanda, making it hard for me to refuse even after I said I was hurting. He wouldn't accept my refusal with graciousness. Now I have a whole lot less interest in dancing with him again, since he doesn't seem to care about my physical well-being or pain.

    If you wouldn't ever ask someone again when they turn you down for a legitimate reason like being done for the night, then you are probably going to miss out on some great partners. Seriously? When someone tells you she is really tired or starting to hurt, you'll write her off if she won't dance with you anyway? Maybe you should try to ask her earlier in the evening next time!

    If you see them dancing with someone else after they say that, well, that's different. But I've been approached on a number of occasions AFTER I've removed my shoes and even as I'm getting my stuff together and heading out the door. If someone won't ask me again in that case, I'll just assume their initial invite wasn't sincere, but they felt that they were obligated to ask me for some reason, so they deliberately waited until they knew I'd say "No". If you really want to dance with someone, wouldn't you maximize your chances of your invitation being accepted rather than refused?
     
  17. sixela

    sixela Active Member

    Very sound advice. Well, I do actually dance with my wife once a year or so, but I suppose being married with two kids no longer counts as dating.
     
  18. manny

    manny New Member

    why not date?
     
  19. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Of course dating. Learning tango is not about learning steps or sequences. Learning tango is social learning in the first place. Steps will come by themselves. Tango dancing is pure interpretation. There are no rules. The basic qualifications you should learn for tango-ing is to organize your smart phone, to handle several ex simultaneously and to learn the ending of 30 classical tangos from the 40s. When will you start, finally?
     
  20. NZ_Guy

    NZ_Guy Member

    First try not dancing. Sometimes it's just the dancing that's not fun that night, while the music and the ambiance can still be enjoyable without the feeling of having to dance when it's not your night.
     

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