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

Virtually all the time in ballroom and Latin, the partners are on the OPPOSITE foot. In tango, there are many times the partners are on the SAME foot. I had to pay MORE attention to the woman's footwork in tango than in ballroom and Latin.
I wish that when I started I could have distinguished the difference between the social dance movements and performance movements... it took two years before I realized that the social dance only needed a few figures; walking, back ochos, walk to the cross, giros... to be a complete and beautiful dance... it was watching a performance done by social dancers who didn't change what they would normally do in a rhonda.
since the great majority of youtube Arg Tango videos are of performance artists I was dazzled by sooo much unnecessary and complicated figures...also since, the teaching I was experiencing was focused on step sequences and more and more complicated figures.... the dance as a whole was more and more distant and mysterious ..
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.

I have to smile when you mention "tango bullies." There are some very inadequate dancers who pride themselves on their dancing but are totally clueless. Since I'm a follower, I'm talking about leads. However, I realize it works both ways.

If you live in a "small pond," you're definitely at a disadvantage UNLESS you have caring and genuine dancers in your community who are more concerned with sharing the joy of tango instead of showing off like a peacock.

A friend of mine has summed it all up perfectly: "I'm not a good enough dancer to dance with a bad lead." Some leads I've experienced in my community like to "bully" by saying "I lead that - why didn't you respond?" I say nothing, but seething up inside me I want to say, "Well, you must have done it incorrectly or sloppily because I didn't feel it."

I asked a follower in my community what she does with she dances with a bad lead. Her reply: "I just dance around them." Her tango is full of showy adornments and embellishments, and she's thought of in my small community as a good dancer.

To a certain degree, you do have to "dance your own dance" in tango and decide what's right for you. I travel 100 miles round-trip twice a week to take group lessons (and one private). However, one can never have too many "beginner basics." Your tango walk can always be improved, as can balancing on your axis, and your partner embrace.

I've gone to many lessons, practicas, and milongas in different locations when I travel. I've also gone to a couple of tango festivals and am going to one at the end of this month.

Everyone dances (and teaches) differently. I've learned that you have to decide what's important for you and leave the rest.
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.
I totally agree...
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.
The Argentines only know 7 figures and they use them over and over and everybody seems happy. Besides, there are only three steps in tango. Think about it.
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.
Absolutely! :)
Don't be discouraged. There is always people, who know social Argentine tango and rules of the milonga inside out. We instruct beginners and we always take time to talk about what to expect at the milonga.

Our dance is not show, but everyone can learn how to dance this and this makes it very enjoyable. Cheers!
As a follower, I wish more of my early lessons emphasized the importance of finding one's axes rather than steps and foot work I think I had been dancing six months before anyone talked about that. Also I wish I had known to ignore the mini lessons some men felt compelled to give at milongas , just because someone has been dancing tango for five years and are better than a beginner doesn't mean they are any good. unless they are teaching a class or you ask for advice they should not say anything and lead things a beginner can fallow or end the tanda.

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