Types of Tangueros: The Good, the Bad, and a myriad of Jerks

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Ampster, Nov 1, 2007.

  1. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Yup. It's pretty easy to tell who will be on the receiving end of the "lessons." That's one reason I love watching my teacher dance with beginners. He's so...there...with them, and seems to do a pretty good job of enjoying things (or at least faking it). There's one girl, the daughter of another student, who always comes to milongas with her mom. She's never taken a lesson, but she can follow a basic tango or vals with him. He's just very patient with her, and leads her very clearly, with very simple things. She's always beaming at the end of a dance with him, and it's neat to see the enjoyment on his face, too. Whenever I can, if he's asked her to dance, I'll just sit and watch because it's so enjoyable to see the happiness on both of their faces. That's a gentleman.

    But, but, but! Some of us love dancing with newbies. It's such a rush to feel them relax and see them smile. Yeah, I'm ready to do more, but so what? So long as I'm not getting hurt or leered at or felt up or something else icky, it's all good. (I suppose the answer is to ask some of them myself. Still working to get over that hurdle.)

    Yah, so true. I'm waiting patiently for my "break" into that tier. *shrug* It'll happen eventually. And, in the meantime, I keep getting better. I tell myself that the longer it takes to get that break, the better I'll be at the time, and the higher the chances of it being more than just a one-off dance. But, yeah, it kind of sucks that sometimes it takes a good leader to show off a follower in such a way that other good leaders will notice. Oh well, 'tis the way the world works. All in good time.
  2. Indiana_Jay

    Indiana_Jay Active Member

    Please find a way over the hurdle! I remember that when I was a brand new ballroom dancer, I depended on the more skilled ladies to ask me, because I was otherwise convinced they would not want to dance with someone who knew as little as I.

    BTW, now that I'm a "barely bronze" ballroom dancer, I do seek out beginners at ballroom socials. In fact, my usual MO (if I'm not dancing with my LW) is to wait until all/most of the other guys have their partners and ask one of the ladies who are still sitting (this also gives me a few extra seconds to catch my breath!).
  3. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Gettin' there, working on it. Baby steps. Step one is to sit somewhere other than the back corner of the room.
  4. Indiana_Jay

    Indiana_Jay Active Member

    Consider yourself encouraged.
  5. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    The reason this is so is because the leaders may not be as good as you think.. Many intermediate leaders judge the capability of followers, not on the quality of their dancing, but on the perceived complexity of the steps they see that follower do. (ie: a fabulous walk... unnoticed.. a high inline boleo... they're wowed)

    Therefore, if you get led in simple things by less experienced leaders, no matter how polished you are in those moves, the slightly more experienced leaders will think you can't do anything else.

    But a truly experienced tango dancer will be able to see the quality in your simplist steps and will judge you accordingly even if they never see you do the show-off moves.

    I think thats how I got asked to dance by Omar Vega and a few of his cronies at an out of town milonga where the "best" leaders of my own community ignored me.

    Or maybe it was my low cut dress... hard to say....

    By the way... some of those "best" leaders? When I finally started getting asked to dance by them, I discovered that they weren't so great after all... its just that the follows who dance frequently with them have figured out what they are leading when they do this or that, and make the leader look better than he is. One of them, I don't care if I ever dance with again.. he was actually awful! I've danced with him several times now and its Bleh! everytime....
  6. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Everything you said is true in my local tango community, too. And true in the other dance communities as well. I think some of the self-appointed "good leaders" purposely avoid dancing with new people because they know they will have to adapt their lead, and they don't want to do that and risk failing. They want to stay in their comfort zone.
  7. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    "Better Leaders". Often debatable. What some see as "wow" I see (only because I felt) as pretty much average. What can I say? :tongue:

    I have NEVER been to a workshop, nor had a private lesson nor even joined a practica. At the outset I attended 2-3 classes a week. And practised like a maniacal insomnic by myself at home 2-4 hours a day and let's not go there with the visualisations - this was every second I could spare. So no, J, all this throwing money to the tango wind is great if it rocks your Titanic but certainly not essential in becoming good in your game. There are some people that I know (quite well) that invest hundreds upon hundreds here and abroad. Still, I can't help thinking, "where exactly is the money going". The "she" half of one particular commented, "well you have an advantage Heather, with your dance background". Wrong. Contemporary Jazz is a good few cousins removed from AT as is breakdancing to the Paso Doble. What is good and certainly does come free is VISUALISATION. I can't begin to tell you the feature-length movies I'd play in my head out the outset. These imaginary feature-lenghts would take up to 2 horus in one sitting sometimes. Starring me together with my (make-believe) Leader. (Interestingly, a friend loaned me a copy of The Secret (cosmic-ordering, law of attraction etc) which has a lot to say on visualising your dreams and then attaining it). I did and kept doing this. And it worked!!!

    When I started out at milongas (approx. 6 months into the learning) teachers would often come and ask me to dance. (The mind boggled as to why) And I would immediately hold my hand up and say "no, I'm a beginner, sorry I can't...okay, you've been warned". And you know what, they were always oh so good and patient with me. One performing Italian who came up (after I'd seen him just perform) and I nearly crapped myself believe you me. AND I messed up again and again big stylie. He was so patient and just kept whispering as we danced (I know, melt) to "not to change your weight, don't change your weight, I said don't change your...why did you change your wait...wait for my lead". The song ended, I was about to walk off and he grabbed me back for another dance. Extreme patience without having to worry what the audience thinks of him. (Well, with this one the audience just did so I guess he had nothing to prove :). The BEST dancers to my mind are these dancers. (As (I think Angel) commented about knowing when you're good when you dance with a beginner. True. Do try and TARGET the teachers (straight after a class, especially the travelling ones) as well as the performers. Said peeps, will help you discard your shame, never blame and teach you game. Even bettern when its a sweet whisper. YUM:together: (cor, almost makeas me wish I was a beginner again).
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Just for the purpose of discussion...
    Said leader corrected you constantly as you danced with him. But it was OK because...???
    He was a teacher?
    He whispered?
    He was a good dancer?
    He was Italian?

    Also, to create discussion (I'm pressed for time right now, and don't have time to try and be diplomatic), I think that previous experience with other types of dance can be helpful, but also a problem, when it comes to AT.
    Dancers learn a lot about, and develop much facility, in how to control their bodies and how to move in a controlled way. At the very least, begin able to both move and respond to the music at the same time is a huge advantage. Many of the young people who become AT "stars" (mostly the women it seems) have backgrounds in ballet and other types of dance.

    PS I'm not Italian. I don't get paid to teach. And I feel very comfortable and competent with what I do when dancing AT. I will spend scads of time with beginners,
    If they have a good attitude. If they also "have potential", (often you can just tell that someone has good balance. Is listening to the music, etc.) that's even a bigger plus.
    When I get the slightest hint that any input is unwelcome, I just let it go.
    Still, it is a bit disconcerting to read the blanket condemnation of non "teachers".

    This all happened happened without a low cut dress?
  9. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    ALL of the above - what can I say?;)

    Teaching yoga and experience in the ballet gives me good posture. It did not help broaden my tango knowledge from Day 1 to where it is now. The jazz-ballet just assists in allowing me to be a bit more theatrical/creative in my dance but, note, it is not AT that I am dancing - it just works as a side-dish.

    Whew Steve, this wasn't a personal attack on you, my friend. I used the "Italian" as an example (among the other non-Italians as well as home-grown teachers/men/leaders). Why would I condemn a non-teaching Leader when I too used to be one of those. Many times a woman has approached me to dance with her and I have taken her hand directly to a Leader who I know is better than my own leading and that he happens to be a performer/nationally or internatioally known will help her grow in her confidence. Okay here's a test:

    Followers: What's better?

    (1) Hey, guess what, I danced with Heather tonight

    OR

    (2) Hey, guess what , I danced with Pablo Veron tonight?

    Exactly. And definitely no offence taken.

    Trust me Steve, as a Follower and Used to Be Beginning Follower I know what I'm talking about here.

    You see, this is exactly what I am talking about. The difference between the two parties. And I would bet my house that a teacher/performer/professional would not ask "seriously" such a question to a woman. Hinting at the only reason a Male Teacher would ask a Beginning Follower to dance was because of her bust line. I rest my case.

    Followers: Target the teachers the professionals if you can. The very thought is nerve-wracking but do, do so. It. Just. Feels. Good.
  10. Angel HI

    Angel HI Active Member

    Zoop's post #65, and Heather's posts #67 and #69 are great. There is much more to be found there between the lines.
  11. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    I find it a little distressing that the difference between tango villain and tango hero often boils down to what opinion the woman has of the man.

    Beginners will usually blindly listen to whatever I may have to say because I look like a good dancer to their beginner's eyes. I try to say little, in order to avoid treading on the toes of the teachers, but they ask, I have to say something.

    On the other hand, hardly anyone who started before me is interested in anything I may have to say. Some of them are Heather's money-sinkers, others are casual dancers, but when partnered in lessons, even if I *know* they can do something differently to make a step easier, it is practical suicide to say it. I've been burned a couple of times even when what I said improved things significantly. It's not that I said something rude or got stroppy, it's that I dared to say anything at all, or perhaps failed to dress it up in the right layers of diversionary fluff. Results count for nothing.
  12. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    That's because you're a nobody, and their egos need to hear advice from a somebody. :)

    Perhaps, but with that background you already know how to move your body on balance.
  13. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Agreed. My formal dance training is extremely helpful in learning any dances because I understand fundamental concepts and terminology, and have good control over my muscles. So if I'm told to move from my center, shift my weight in certain ways, etc. I understand right away what that means and how to do it.

    Basically it's kind of like a musician knowing scales, chords, and how to play their instrument. Like the difference between a classical pianist learning jazz, compared to a person who never sat down at a piano before and is still learning how to position their hands and fingers properly. It's still a lot of work to learn the specific genre, but at least you have a head start.
  14. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I've experienced this concept myself. People that have started the dance before you did seem not only to not be interested in what you may have to say, but I'll take it one further (in my own town, at least) that the people who were dancing before you will generally pigeon hole you in to a "less experienced" dancer than they are. Even if you go all out traveling the country, taking classes and lessons multiple days a week for 3 years and really work your rear off to get good, and they have been taking sporadic lessons for 5, indifferently at best, they still tend to think of themselves as more expierienced.
  15. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    That's certainly true for some people, but here is what I have seemed to notice. I typically get the most enjoyment out of dancing with really good followers, or beginners (ie. I have more trouble with (some) intermediate level dancers than with any other group). This occurs both in workshops and at Milongas. I've talked to another leader who agrees with me about this. In classes, intermediate followers complain that I'm either using my left hand or right hand too much (and it varies from follower to follower), and in Milongas it's more difficult to get a good connection. I've actually been trying to figure out why this is.

    I developed a theory, with the help of a female teacher (who claims I normally have a gentle lead with her). With really good follows, they respond so quickly, that I barely have to do anything at all to lead them. With beginners, they typically focus on trying to follow (which is good), but I usually have to use more force to make it clear what I am leading. Many beginners comment on how they like dancing with me, because they usually know exactly what the lead is.

    With intermediate dancers, I haven't been able to figure out what the happy medium is. It would be easier to fix if there was some consistency in the complaints, but they are all over the place. From my perspective, it seems like they are focusing on things other than following.

    I'm still trying though to figure out how to lead some of them, but sometimes, I'd rather just enjoy myself at a milonga than figure out why some intermediates are always complaining. I never turn down dances from follows that ask me, however.
  16. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    IMHO, The mark of a really good lead is the ability to lead any woman at any level. They are all different, and all will react differently. There is not a happy medium, unless you are dancing in a controled and prescribed environment, where everything is dictated and pre-formatted out.

    This learning curve is frustrating, hard, and takes a long time. But once that skill is built, it makes the tango experience better and "luscious" for both lead and follow, regardless of level, simplicity, or complexity.

    It is what each leader needs to aspire to. At least I think so. I've seen several leads who are succesful at this. It's beautiful to watch. Someday, I'll get there too.
  17. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Gee... I don't know... Are you cute?;)
  18. Angel HI

    Angel HI Active Member

    The biggest problem with defining what a good lead, or follow is, is that there is no one answer. It is completely subjective. Even if one can lead all persons of all levels, one doesn;t do it with the same feel and/or response. A good lead for one person might be an OK lead for another, and a poor lead for someone else. Suffice it to say that a good lead is one who can communincate in some form or fashion so that the follow may have a nice experience. Remember, also, that regardless of how good a lead is, if the follow hasn't sufficient knowledge of movement, it just doesn't matter.
  19. Hock Siew

    Hock Siew New Member

    I find that this is one of the things that make AT interesting :) (for me, anyway). Certainly, it makes it that much more difficult; and I am finding it very challenging at the moment. But, at the same time, I feel that it wouldn't be quite as interesting (would it?), if every woman responded in exactly the same way each time.
  20. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Do you remember that wonderful, wonderful posting somebody sent us. Re. the Unconscious Incompetent, the Conscious Competent etc. etc. Well (some) Intermediates I suppose could be considered as...

    I personally think (and I daresay will be disagreed by many) that many people with personal issues bring that stuff into the danceroom. In much the same way the disagreeable child at home translates as the desruptive pupil at school, or the rascist or sadist man in jeans & t-shirt is now the overly abusive maniacally bloodthirsty man in army fatigues. It will only take a whole lot of psychology to leave the wretch-part at home and bring the angel-part into the milonga. Ha, ha, ha. This is why I LOVE people-watching.

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