Don't impress her with your fancy steps! Impress her with your...

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Ampster, Sep 6, 2007.

  1. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    ...movement from the soul!

    I've recently had a leg injury. Because of that, I've had the opportunity to watch people at milongas. In the process, I once again see behavior that really rubs me wrong.

    Here's the scenario:

    A leader asks a [seemingly] beginner lady to dance a tanda. He then starts to lay on the fancy steps. The dance falls apart. Not because she doesn't know what to do, but rather, he leads it badly! Apparently, leader is a newbie, trying to compensate for some inadequacy. Anyway, he then tries to teach her the move that he's trying to do, in the middle of the dance floor, holding up traffic...

    This makes for a very looong tanda. Not to mention, it is VERY, VERY, VERY rude to teach in a milonga. You just don't do that! A well meaning criticism can be very devastating and humiliating to a follow.

    Seeing the follow, I dance with her. I keep it simple. SHE CAN DANCE! Not technically astute, but she is able to achieve that "Tango connection," which is the whole point of AT. After the tanda, she tells me "Thank you, I feel so much better with you than with that other guy."

    My curiosity is piqued and I ask her, "Why?"

    Ampster embarks on a small research project...



    (This scenario is repeated in several milongas. There's always at least one lead who does this sort of thing)



    The consistent answer is that, to the majority of ladies, it is the "Tango Connection" that makes the dance worthwhile.

    Only the advanced dancers are the ones who can do (sometimes enjoy) the fancy stuff. For it to be enjoyable, you have to lead it well.

    So, my conclusion is this:

    Dance to the level of the follower. Don't try to push fancy steps if you can't lead it well, and if she's not comfortable with it. Keep it simple and concentrate on the connection.

    Move her with your soul. Not your feet.
  2. Twirly

    Twirly New Member

    Well said.

    The point I guess is that both should feel comfortable and enjoy what they are doing. Many people who are quite new to tango do like experimenting with difficult steps, and if they both enjoy it (and they're not too much in the way) then that's OK too.
  3. newbie

    newbie Active Member

    Wow Ampster you have an injured leg and you can lead a beginner lady. Wow.
  4. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Amen. Thank you. A million times, thank you.

    Particularly after this past weekend...THANK YOU!!!!!
  5. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    You got to dance with Ampster?
  6. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I wish.

    Nah. Thanks for saying that. There are a couple of guys I know who fall into the pattern he described. I managed to avoid one this weekend, the other I didn't know to avoid. Completely miserable tanda. But the thing is, I'm on friendly terms with them and like them personally, so turning them down is...sticky.
  7. newbie

    newbie Active Member

    Ok leaders, let's all break one of our legs.
  8. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member


    I was once on friendly terms with a boyfriend I was seeing at the time. When I told my girlfriends that I always faked, one piped up rather loudly and whooped with horror, "Fake? A woman should never fake. How on earth then does the bloke know where he's going wrong". She was right of course. So huns, dance with the nice man, however, do tell him where it is that you feel he is going wrong. It is his right that he knows then and only then can he improve.
  9. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    this definitely carries over to ballroom -- it is very, very common. even my amateur practice partner would do this, and there's a very experienced pre-champ amateur i know who can't do anything but this at socials. neither of them are beginners, but they aren't leading well, and the dance just deteriorates into chaos and i leave the floor in those situations feeling only stress and frustration.

    if only they would heed my constant mantra of "please, just stick to basic for awhile!" something simple danced with good technique & wonderful connection is so satisfying...

    i bet this dynamic exists in every form of partner dancing, ampster. :sigh:
  10. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Gotta disagree. If it were a practica, I'd speak up. If he asked, I'd speak up. At a milonga...not my place.
  11. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Yes but, Leads are quick to do so with Followers. I have often given advice to a lead (and a follower) and likewise I have often received it which I am always open to. It depends on the tone and how it is addressed. I tend to start with "...that was nice but, here's a tip and I think it would feel good for both of us if...".

    That said, if it is easier for you to suffer than to offer then it is certainly not my place to say otherwise.
  12. calandra

    calandra New Member

    Obviously there is ettiquette in every form of dance, but I find the "what do do or not do at a milonga" in tango to be a bit opaque. Not all of us have the luxury of time to go to practicas as well as the occasional milonga, and I don't understand why people just can't be normal. Once at a milonga, the leader was trying to make me do something and I had no idea what. So when we came to the next grinding halt I asked something like, "what is it that I am supposed to be doing when you do that lead?" He just shrugged and didn't even bother to answer or show me, I felt pretty bad like it wasn't worth the time and effort even though I am a decent dancer (just don't know all the fancy steps). I'm not saying that he should have stopped everything and shown me, but even saying something like "oh, that was a [ ]" wouldn't have killed him.
  13. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    And just because other people have bad manners is not license for me to have bad manners, as well.

    Not so much a question of suffering, a question of being polite. If I'm injured, or in danger of it, I speak up. But teaching on the dance floor is generally considered a pretty severe breach of etiquette, and just because others do it does not mean that I will. Besides, with only 2 years experience, and only as a follower, I have no real standing to go around correcting people.
  14. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    As a leader, I appreciate getting constructive feedback at a milonga on what I did wrong (or could improve on). It's much prefered to just a "thank you" with no clue about what you didn't like.

    The only time I ever got feedback that wasn't particularly helpful was at a class where I was struggling with a new step they were teaching, when my partner said, "You need to have a more motion fluid when you do that".

    ;)
  15. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Giving one advice in a kindly tone is certainly not akin to being ill-mannered. They are those that are brutish in manner, tone, gesture yes, and I would certainly not advise anyone adopt same, but a kindly word is okay. Woe is the ego then if the recipent of such kindly advice chooses to construe it as anything but.

    Lastly, that you have only (sic) two years experience certainly does not mean you are any less qualified to advise than another with, say, 10 years under their belt. My sister once remarked how much her 7 year old has taught her much about life and living. And so it is often times the novices from whom we learn the most important lessons.
  16. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    I've been caught out a few times by mystefied followers. I don't want to stop a dance to explain something (for tango does not lend itself easily to words), and my tendency is to write off the particular part of my repetoire so that the dance doesn't come unstuck again and get back into the dancing as smoothly as possible. Questions can wait until the end of the piece of music. Be sure that your offending leader wasn't

    a) trying to rescue the dance diplomatically
    b) had no clue what he just did (I sometimes have no recollection of last few steps)
    c) doesn't know the name of the move
    d) really knows his stuff. The last thing you need is advice from someone who only sees a quarter of the whole picture.

    Yes, he may be an elitist swine, but offer the benefit of the doubt.

    The original post is spot on. One truly connected dance is worth 100 going through the motions. A series of good connections equals a room full of smiling people. I do find it takes a conscious effort to keep complexity down however, particularly when the connection is absent. I'll find the balance eventually.
  17. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    All advice should be taken with a grain of salt. If I got a critque after dancing with a random follower I wouldn't dance with her again. Some folllowers mention oh I like taht etc and I don't mind that as it helps me to figure out what she likes and do more of that sort of stuff within the musical context. I sometimes ask and then don't mind feedback. Be careful where you tread. I don't mind feedback at practice sessions or what is called practicas in AT...but I don't social dance to get critiqued.
  18. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I'll agree with that. I've forgotten where I first saw it, but I read that if either dancer thinks there is a problem, they are always right (in that there is a problem). Now as to whether they are correct on what the problem actually is, may be quite another story.
  19. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    I am sure many a sound advice was whispered in the ears of people like Hitler, Pot Pot, Idi Amin, S.Hussein, Napoleon etc. and their taking it with a "grain of salt" cost millions of lives. Advice that is heeded (note: "advice" and not "criticism") can often times serve to be a great lesson. But I suspect it boils down to security and ego. I haven't a problem with advice given to me as a follower nor do I have a problem with advice given to me as a leader. It is all about the delivery and where it is given. Being stopped in the middle of dancefloor (never happened to me but have witnessed it done to others) is rude beyond measure. A whisper in the ear while dancing or a gentle word at the end of a song while still in the embrace is always welcomed. That all said, if one is uncomfortable dancing with somebody - no matter how friendly that person is - we shoudn't be hyprocrits about it by asking them to dance anyway and then moaning about their ability beyond their backs. As did one writer on this site. Basta !!
  20. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    If you're referring to me, as I suspect your are, two points.

    1. I didn't ask him.
    2. Just as you don't particularly like being called "stupid," others don't particularly like being called hypocrites. "Basta," yourself.

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