What do you wish you knew when you started dancing? A beginner's point of view...

#1
I ve been dancing tango for about 2 years, taking classes fairly regularly the first year but I wasn't dancing so much at first. Somehow I am learning about the "rules" of this social dance only now... and from the web!! I wonder how come tango teachers don't give this precious info to students who get very discouraged at milongas when scolded by "mean" looks (offten with reason) from experienced dancers. I wish I knew you shouldn't lift your feet so high in a milonga.. I thought little accidents were generally accepted.. So what am I to do with those lovely high boleos I practised on so much against my fridge?
 
#2
because those teachers would not know how to behave in the milongas themselves
because many of them never go to milongas
and if they do, they do not dance socially
and sometimes, when they do dance in a ronda, they look borderline ridiculous.
 
#3
Regrets about the past would not do you any good. You are now interested in going to milongas and being an adequate social dancer, right? Then find instructors who prepare you for that.
 
#4
I kind of wish I wasn't taught the ocho cortado and was taught the cross a bit differently with less talk of 'energy' and 'intention'.
 

Subliminal

Well-Known Member
#5
I ve been dancing tango for about 2 years, taking classes fairly regularly the first year but I wasn't dancing so much at first. Somehow I am learning about the "rules" of this social dance only now... and from the web!! I wonder how come tango teachers don't give this precious info to students who get very discouraged at milongas when scolded by "mean" looks (offten with reason) from experienced dancers. I wish I knew you shouldn't lift your feet so high in a milonga.. I thought little accidents were generally accepted.. So what am I to do with those lovely high boleos I practised on so much against my fridge?

Hmm. I think my biggest blunder starting out was listening to tango bullies and staying away from practicas and milongas. A lot of the people who look like they know what they are doing actually don't. There's also a lot of Big Fish Small Pond syndrome in tango. I wish I had ignored the haters sooner and danced the way I wanted to dance from the beginning.

I also wish I had ignored the advice about not dancing patterns. I don't think it's possible to skip directly to freely stepping without any patterns whatsoever, and I gave myself a lot of frustration by trying to jump from beginner to advanced without passing through intermediate. Patterns gave me a place to start from, and when I was ready I broke them myself.
 

opendoor

Well-Known Member
#6
... learning about the "rules" of this social dance only... from the web!! I wonder how come tango teachers don't give this precious info..
Hi Milena, welcome to DF.
you can´t trust teachers in this respect. They got their own didactical ideas (if they got any), they have to get along, they live on tango. Of course most tango teachers simply repeat their own tango education, in most cases sterile tango escenario.

Social tango is a totally different animal. To dance tango socially at a milonga it is not necessary to take lessons at all. Just go there watch, ask, and do.


So I would recommend simply to attend a milonga, immediately. Take a trip to your capital, perhaps you´ve got relatives there. Or if you are on vacation then simply google if there is a milonga or tango encuentro near by. Also tango holidays may help to get amongst the people. As far as I have encountered, the tango scene is a nice and decent crowd and open to new faces. By the way, where are you from?
 
#7
Hi Milena, welcome to DF.
you can´t trust teachers in this respect. They got their own didactical ideas (if they got any), they have to get along, they live on tango. Of course most tango teachers simply repeat their own tango education, in most cases sterile tango escenario.

Social tango is a totally different animal. To dance tango socially at a milonga it is not necessary to take lessons at all. Just go there watch, ask, and do.


So I would recommend simply to attend a milonga, immediately. Take a trip to your capital, perhaps you´ve got relatives there. Or if you are on vacation then simply google if there is a milonga or tango encuentro near by. Also tango holidays may help to get amongst the people. As far as I have encountered, the tango scene is a nice and decent crowd and open to new faces. By the way, where are you from?

I am italian leaving in Spain. Thanks for your advice, I already try to have this approach now when I go to more popular milongas. I think tango is just like a beautiful language that allows you to communicate with a wide range of people and the knowledge of the "Codigos" makes it easier to have a deeper conversation instead of a simple chit chat.
 

jantango

Active Member
#8
What do I wish I'd known when I started dancing tango? The recordings of Troilo, Di Sarli, D'Arienzo, Calo, D'Agostino, etc. from the golden era. Knowledge of the music is the place to begin tango, not learning steps. The steps come from feeling the music.
 
#11
There's so much to learn. Its a process and you can't learn it all at once. What did I wish I knew? Nothing. I'm glad I knew nothing and learned from scratch. I'm glad for every mistake I've made, and am thankful for every person who has danced with me and either gently or not so gently, gave me advice along the way. Everyone on the milonga dance floor has the scars from learning. I believe that's why there is a mutual respect for fellow dancers.
 
#12
I wish I had teachers which focused on technique, posture and axis. I spent too long learning to do 'steps' poorly and after a while I realized I did not need to learn more steps to do poorly. Do a few simple things well. It's important to build confidence in your own technique. Also, I wish I had learned the importance of private lessons sooner. While not cheap, I have learned more in privates than any class. But, all this being said, your motivation is key. If the social aspect is more important then classes are a lot of fun as are milongas. But, you may not improve as fast. My 2 cents.
 

newbie

Well-Known Member
#13
I ve been dancing tango for about 2 years, taking classes fairly regularly the first year but I wasn't dancing so much at first. Somehow I am learning about the "rules" of this social dance only now... and from the web!! I wonder how come tango teachers don't give this precious info to students who get very discouraged at milongas when scolded by "mean" looks (offten with reason) from experienced dancers. I wish I knew you shouldn't lift your feet so high in a milonga.. I thought little accidents were generally accepted.. So what am I to do with those lovely high boleos I practised on so much against my fridge?
I was in a BsAs milonga with my private teacher, we went to the crowded dance floor. Abrazo. I shrinked my left elbow to occupy less space. "Don't shrink!" said my teacher/partner, "If you shrik someone else will use the space."
And before the trip, in my neck of the woods I took a series of privates with an argentine couple with the idea of getting hints about how you dance in BsAs. "You have to be dominant here. Don't get overwhelmed by the flow. If you need space, create space.".

Ok admittedly this is more useful for leaders. For a follower who like high boleos, what I have noticed is the argentine girls do very high front boleos (their knee hitting the partner's chin) and very small back boleos.
 
#14
I was in a BsAs milonga with my private teacher, we went to the crowded dance floor. Abrazo. I shrinked my left elbow to occupy less space. "Don't shrink!" said my teacher/partner, "If you shrik someone else will use the space."
And before the trip, in my neck of the woods I took a series of privates with an argentine couple with the idea of getting hints about how you dance in BsAs. "You have to be dominant here. Don't get overwhelmed by the flow. If you need space, create space.".

Ok admittedly this is more useful for leaders. For a follower who like high boleos, what I have noticed is the argentine girls do very high front boleos (their knee hitting the partner's chin) and very small back boleos.
Great advice! Thank you:)
 
#15
As a leader who has been painfully hurt by a woman's heel landing on my ankle (the follower of the leader behind me), I would like to emphasis the importance of safety in doing boleos. As it is the leader who leads the boleo it is his responsibility to ensure that the follower can do the boleo safely for her and safely for anyone around. If the room is packed, I've been taught to lead a small boleo (if any at all). A small boleo is one in which the woman's feet stay underneath her hips and therefore don't have the opportunity to stab someone or get caught up in clothing. If the floor is uncrowed, the leader looks for the open space; and if the floor is crowed then the corners of the room or against a wall is another opportunity. I did want to bring safety to the discussion for both parties as no one want to get hurt. Your question is an excellent question to ask an instructor (or mulitple), but this is my observation.
 
#19
I wish I knew how long it would take to be a good dancer. My expectations were just unrealistic. I had taken ballroom and Latin lessons for a year before I began tango. Patterns have to be memorized to ensure the woman and I are on the correct foot at the correct beat in ballroom and Latin There is no correct foot on the correct beat in AT. It's a dance of opportunities.

I had a great teacher who taught technique (axis, frame, posture, and balance) and to think what I wanted the woman to do, NOT what to do with my feet.

If I knew how long it would take to be proficient, I wouldn't have beaten myself up so badly at the beginning.
 

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