Tango Argentino > Not touchy feely

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Tango Distance, Mar 5, 2015.

  1. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Touchy feely alert!

    Tango Distance Unearths Root Cause?
    Positive Consequences

    I tend towards the nonhugging side of the spectrum. The dance thing gave rise to a lot of introspection, and reading, and writing here at DF. While I learned much about myself and others, I didn't really figure out exactly why I am a nonhugger -- the reasons I would read either didn't fit or were vague. It was still valuable to learn there are other nonhuggers, and other introverts. While visiting relatives, I suddenly saw the elephant in the room. It was always there to see, but I didn't see the obvious until it came up in a somewhat over-the-top fashion. Don't worry, it's nothing that would involve prison time for anyone. I just happened to pick up on and internalize something that I'm sure was not intended to lead to a nonhugging consequence. This realization is another step forward in my journey and helped make for better outcomes in the two following events:

    I saw a new face at a class and asked her when the instructor said to practice for a song. I asked if she had any Tango experience... She had just returned from an extensive visit to Buenos Aires! She immediately pulled me into a close embrace. Uncharacteristic of me, I just went with it, figuring it was a close embrace class and it would be more trouble than it was worth explaining I didn't want to do close embrace at a close embrace class.

    I did another close embrace class. The instructor helped me get a difficult step. After a while I happily exclaimed that I had it! Later I realized I had a moment just enjoying the step and was not even thinking about the close embrace thing.
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Angel HI and Tango Distance like this.
  3. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah, that probably wouldn't have gone over too well.


    I guess you're not such a bad guy after all.

    Tango Distance likes this.
  4. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Yay for progress!
    Tango Distance likes this.
  5. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    How is it you were in the same class?
  6. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Admittedly, I am in a class of my own! :)

    In my area the studios tend to have a beginners class, and then all the rest go into the 2nd level class. "3rd level" would be privates.

    We are all good at different things. DW says I am better than average at picking up the steps in class, sometimes even best. Connection, close embrace, musicality, walking... Well, let's say I have plenty to work on yet!
    Angel HI likes this.
  7. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    So, at some point is starts to become expensive, and putting you within a bunch of just-better-than-beginner people is quite an incentive to make you want to leave the group classes.
    The "free-to-play" video games have a similar economic model.
  8. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Being "just-better-than-beginner" myself I fit right in! :cool:

    I have been taking group lessons the year and a half I have been doing Tango. I also did one private, and have been to some workshops. Additionally, the advanced ladies have been happy to coach me at practicas. Here's a TD comparison:
    • Group lessons: I like making friends, and prefer dancing with people I know from class at Milongas. It's also fun to be with people of similar skill level, and not be the bottom 10% I usually am at a Milonga here. There is less guesswork as to what the ladies know how to do. I generally understand the "professional" instructors better than friends that help me at practicas. I can watch the instructor couple, and they have more experience explaining things. Mr. Not Touchy Feely here finds the shorter and structured interactions in a group class easier. Sometimes the 2nd level classes are so small it is almost a private lesson. BTW we have also done a few Blues group lessons, it has been a similar experience.
    • The one private Tango lesson: I did it with DW. It was excellent, and being geared straight towards us moved things along quickly without us getting lost. Mr. Not Touchy Feely here is not sure how well he'd weather a whole hour with one instructor if DW didn't go. Though it was more expensive we also learned more quickly. DW and I also did several Blues privates. That went well and with our Tango head start I think we learned much more quickly than group lessons. Blues privates were also less than 1/3 the cost of Tango privates!
    • Workshops: They have generally been significantly more advanced than regular classes. Though my first close embrace workshop was a minor disaster, I have since just taken only beginner workshop classes and those have gone well (although they were still surprisingly advanced).
    • Friends help at practicas: The advanced ladies have been very gracious about helping me. It is harder to understand what they want, so I need to ask more questions. I also have found I need to go through things very slowly, and get a "passing grade" before trying new things at full speed. I have also found it tends to be too much too fast, so I have found it is great to ask for just a tip or two, and work on a smaller number of things.
  9. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    General Dance Adventures

    Unimportant details such as my size, race, ethnicity, nonTango dances, locations, time spans, and dates may or may not have been changed to protect my anonymity.

    Here as some fun Tango Distance snippets:

    DW and I volunteer for some outdoor community music events. Sometimes many in the crowd will dance and we'll join the fun. Sometimes the music is by a cover band. Sometimes the crowd starts rushing the stage, so we volunteers will make a security line in front of the stage. An interesting phenomenon has occurred multiple times. A pretty lady that dances very well will start dancing right in front of me, apparently in an attempt to distract me, and then try to suddenly dart past me. It must be interesting to watch, a lady doing nightclub style dancing, and Tango Distance with hands spread wide, rapidly shuffling side-to-side like a basketball player on defense.

    At a wedding party I did a Blues dance move... then the bride started doing it... then all the bridesmaids... then everyone...

    DW and I went to a new restaurant with a live band. We were the first couple to dance, but then six couples were going in short order. We received many compliments and inquiries as to where we had learned to dance like that (thanks go to Joe's Tango and Oil Change -- the most slippery dance floor in the US! (TM)).

    At a different restaurant, we started to dance to the live music. We were the only two dancers. The band leader announced "last song," but then 14 other people joined us dancing. The band had huge smiles and played for another 5 songs!

    These three events I only danced with DW. With my recently acquired mirada/cabeceo body language reading super powers, I could tell one lady at the wedding really really wanted to dance with me, plus several at the restaurants. BTW at the wedding and restaurants people were not switching partners.
  10. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Wading a Little Deeper into Close Embrace

    Touchy feely and long post alert!

    Seeing the elephant in the room (for the record, not Newbie's avatar) about my aversion to hugs has been mentally freeing. An outside observer might miss the changes. While I don't seek out hugs, and still try to keep them brief, I will actually now raise an arm to share a quick hug with those I know enjoy them -- in contrast to standing there motionlessly as possible and only reciprocating as late and little and briefly as possible. That's progress one arm at a time, the goal is to use both arms sometime before the 2020 elections (That's a joke! I do now even go as far as using both arms.) The freeing thing is being able to see the joy a hug can give rather than 100% of my brain cycles thinking about escaping or minimizing the hug. The dance community has moved this "therapy" along at a good clip, I can get half a year's worth of hugs in one night at a dance event! For the record, DW has always been excepted and I enjoy frequent hugs with her.

    Here are some mini close embrace snippets:

    I did a Blues close embrace class. I was teamed with an older lady who was so short she rested her head on my chest. She was short enough I could see her face and could see from the dreamy look on her face she was really enjoying it.

    An instructor point blank told me I should do the last song of a Tanda in close embrace with her. It was simple steps, but I did it and she said I weathered it well (she knows about the hug thing with me).

    We traveled to a Tango workshop. I danced with about 30 different ladies (easily a personal record for Milongas), and danced about 3/4 of the Tandas, mostly in open embrace. I had some interesting close embrace adventures.

    A lady from my area kept complaining that open embrace was too hard and close was so much easier. About halfway into the final song of the Tanda I greased the squeaky wheel and did close embrace for walking but would go open for other steps. I told her I didn't have much close embrace training, but she said I did well.

    Remember that lady that was high on hugs and gave me a record long hug? (Here is the post: http://www.dance-forums.com/threads/not-touchy-feely.45840/page-5#post-1073824 ) We did a tanda. For the last half of the last song I initiated close embrace with a nonDW lady for the first time at a Milonga. Part of my motivation was a peace offering of sorts for how I treated her the previous year about her extended hug. After it was done she continued to hug me for several seconds. I realized she was likely enjoying it. She said "That was nice," and I think that referred more to the close embrace and ending hug than the dance steps.

    One lady commented I was the first time she had danced open embrace in a long time.

    Several ladies tried to pull me into close embrace. I resisted them all but one. Most were gentle tugs, but one lady was quite insistent and applied considerable force. So insistent, in fact, that I gave in about 1/2 way into the first song of the Tanda. She then didn't resist switching between close and open and vice versa.

    Here is some Tango Distance touchy feely self analysis. I realize my close embrace and hugging vocabulary and body-language-reading-via-touch is not very well developed. With my years of speaking and facial reading I'm reasonably good at those (perhaps even as good as males typically get :) ). With my new forays into communication by torso touch I'm a beginner. It's hard for me to tell if the lady is enjoying it during, I'm relying on her saying something or facial expression afterwards. I'm not sure exactly how I am coming across to the ladies. Is it "Domo arigato Mr. Roboto!"? Is it "I had wonderful warm fuzzies whose memory I'll treasure until I die!"? Maybe it is something in between, like "Yep, he shouldn't quit his day job but it was better than sitting for the 6th tanda in a row!"

    Here's an interesting observation: Several ladies tried to pull me into close embrace the whole tanda, which I resisted the whole time. For both of the ladies I tried this with, once given close embrace the ladies seemed then OK to break it. I base this on they would keep trying to pull me into close embrace (or even say something), but once they experienced even a brief close embrace the pulling stopped. Maybe my CE was so bad they were relieved it was over :) or maybe it was just getting the reassurance/validation that I knew CE was OK to do? It had never occurred to me that maybe brief periods of close embrace "check the box" and the ladies are then happy (maybe not ultimately happy, but at least OK) to continue in open embrace. Comments on that? Maybe I'll treat close embrace as another dance step and throw it in sometimes. It had not occurred to me that going CE briefly would stop further requests for close embrace. Another thought I had is some music seems to call for close embrace more, and some more for open <dons protective gear :) >.

    Regarding the several ladies who pulled with their arms the whole tanda, trying to initiate close embrace: Do they think I'm not getting the hint maybe? Do they want to make it really clear I'm welcome to do CE? Do they want to encourage the nervous newbie to try it? Are they hoping to teach me the real essence of Tango? Do they feel rejected? I suppose it doesn't help seeing me do some blissful CE with DW but then refusing to do it with them.

    DW said she saw I received multiple hugs at the event. She asked "Has it occurred to you these hugs might be good for you?" Interestingly, it had not. I realize abstractly that others enjoy hugs and that makes the world a better place and therefore indirectly benefits me, but hadn't thought that it could be a direct benefit to me (not accepting that premise yet, but will think about it).
    Chrisa Assis and twnkltoz like this.
  11. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

  12. Chrisa Assis

    Chrisa Assis Member

    I think we all feel awkward when we start learning Tango--some people more and some people less--even if we don't fully realize it or accept it..! I mean think about this, when in life do you ever hug someone for 12-15mins, and only walk with them...or even worse during the pauses of the song you are not even walking...so you are only hugging each other without doing anything..! It is an intimate moment so it is absolutely normal for anyone to feel uncomfortable..! The great and encouraging thing is that you are trying to figure this out, you are talking about it, reading about it, writing about it...far more than what most people do! So I don't know if you "LOVE" Tango but it looks like you are at least interested..!haha
    So I think you should take your time, allow yourself a few seconds before you start moving to just be in the embrace...allowing the music, and some calming thoughts to come in and make you feel a bit more at ease before you start actually moving, so you don't have to deal with that as you are trying to remember moves and lead! Then it is good to identify the moments that make you uncomfortable the most, figure out why and how you can deal with the discomfort as you are dancing...Some people decide to take it easy and dance in an open embrace for the full dance for example. Some people though they dance in an open embrace, they find moments to close it up a bit so they start slowly getting use it--like during a parada. And some people during Tanda they will attempt dancing closer for a song...different ideas, all of which perfectly fit a class and a milonga.
    It is a coincidence that traditionally, the leaders learning to dance would only go to the milonga when their teacher believed they were ready--they actually had to invited by him--and he would introduce them to one or two women who would dance with them and that was it. A leader wouldn't just randomly go and ask every woman in the milonga, that wouldn't be acceptable...Something like that is now too controlling, and society has changed, but--though this wasn't probably the reason--it is was a good strategy to help the new people have a smooth way in to the milonga..!
    So I don't you are took too long to go to a milonga, and there is no time rule for that anyhow..! See the milonga as a party! Go there to have fun! Chat, meet some new people, enjoy the music, and if you feel like dancing, dance! If not enjoy the social aspect of it and you will see things slowly will start falling into place..!
    I hope this helps! :)
    Tango Distance likes this.
  13. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    One day my instructor said: "In front of you is a nice lady with a nice back - search for the most pleasant position of your hand there and keep contact."
    And I looked: yes, nice lady ... I felt around: yes, nice back ... what a great idea!!! :)
    Tango Distance likes this.
  14. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Many thanks for the encouragement. It is easy to forget that the 50 people i see at a workshop all doing close embrace do not represent the general population and that I'm not alone. All the reading and writing, and even all the dance has changed how I view myself. I have gone from "that's just how I am, don't hug me" to "maybe I shouldn't feel so adverse to hugs and why am I working so hard to avoid them?" to "would this person enjoy a hug?" Dance started out solely to please DW and enjoy with DW, but now sometimes I will go to an event without her -- I do enjoy Tango on my own now.
    I have just started doing the end of your paragraph. I have done a little close embrace with two older lady instructors that know about me and the hug thing. I have just started to do CE briefly (for a few steps or at most one song of the tanda) at milongas with others. Hmmm, starting with an embrace and just standing there... I'm going to have to work my way up to that. It's an interesting thought that had not occurred to me that it might be easier to do just the embrace and then the dance steps. Right now I do dance steps and then work in doing close embrace.
    Now that I'm not hiding to avoid dances it does make it much easier to be social! The tango people have been very nice despite my foibles.
    Chrisa Assis likes this.
  15. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    It took many patient ladies for me, but I finally started to get it!
    Chrisa Assis likes this.
  16. Chrisa Assis

    Chrisa Assis Member

    I think this is the most beautiful part of every learning process...watching oneself change! It is just amazing..! It might be actual physical change, or change of perspective, or attitude, or sometimes a great transformation on all levels!
    Sometimes is feels that this is the most rewarding part, because you get to surprise yourself!!!haha
    Rejuvenating no?
    And then when you see the reaction from other nice people--and thankful there many out there and in her actually..hah--that gives you some reassurance and strength to keep going, to keep experimenting with different ideas, and to keep evolving and changing..!
    Happy dances!!!
    Tango Distance likes this.
  17. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Tango Distance's Popularity Suddenly Surges

    Mind you, I'm not complaining about before. I would ask a lady, and she would almost always say yes, often would seem to enjoy the dance, and sometimes I would get a compliment. I was very rarely asked, and most of the asks were by instructors.

    Hang in there, this eventually becomes a “touchy-feely” post.

    A big disclaimer: I'm not claiming to be the most popular leader! I think it is a case where I have crossed over from ladies will graciously agree to dance with me to actually hoping I'll ask and wanting to dance with me, more like most of the other leaders. Also, generally there is an excess of females at our events. Helping keep me humble are the couple of ladies who will not dance with me, even if it means they sit 2 and ½ hours of a 3 hour Milonga.

    Here are some snippets drawn from a small number of events:
    • A lady (one of our better dancers, and very beautiful, and has no trouble getting dances) ran up to me as soon as I entered a Milonga and asked me to dance, and did it again the next Milonga
    • A top 10% in dance skill lady asked me
    • Several ladies have done playful pouting they didn't get asked when I asked someone seated beside them
    • Perhaps the best lady dancer in our state chided me for taking so long to ask her (to be honest, I was afraid I would bore her, no make that I'm still afraid!)
    • This happened at two different practicas. Both times featured a new-to-Tango lady. TD was showing the open embrace to start, and both times the lady suddenly leaned in, pressed against me, and said something like “Like this?” (I didn't get the double entendre at the time, but upon typing that I now see it.) I mumbled something about not knowing close embrace very well. Both ladies then pulled back looking very pleased with themselves. I guess that was a blatant invitation to do close embrace?
    • One day I did some volunteer work at a new high school. I told a coworker I was not used to interacting with so many strangers in a day. That night DW and I went to a practica. After starting the night with DW, I sat in a far corner and didn't really feel like participating. All that online study paid off, I realized I was being Mr. Introvert and was “over peopled” for the day. Despite being outside much of the night, and sitting in a far dark corner when I came back, and a good gender balance, 3 ladies came by hoping to dance (in the past usually that number would be zero). Others asked the 1st lady and the 2nd lady pretty quickly (once again, being near the Tango Distance apparently suddenly makes a lady very desirable). The story of the last one is pretty funny. It was 10 minutes to close, I announced I was going to finish the night with DW. The lady grabbed my arm, and said “She is having fun. Let her dance.” Gee, thanks! In her defense, I think she might have been saying something like “Your wife is taken care of, please dance with me.”
    • It continues. A lady that had said “no” to me in the past to then dance with someone else came up and asked if we were going to dance that night. That same night two other ladies asked.
    This increase in popularity was sudden. I thought of several possible causes:
    • I'm trying to be more musical and take smaller steps
    • My Tango continues to improve. While I have a long way to go, I feel like I am learning things faster than before.
    • I'm building more connections – I'm steadily getting to know more people from classes and more newbs – people that I'm sure will say “yes” when asked. (For the record almost everyone says yes, even strangers.)
    • My elephant-in-the-room (not Newbie's avatar) revelation and starting to do a little bit of close embrace.
    My best guess is it is this last point. I don't do much close embrace, but I'll do about a song's worth in a Tanda with one or two ladies I know well, and do it about ½ time with DW. I doubt the ladies are saying “Wow, look, Tango Distance did 3 minutes of close embrace!” and very seriously doubt they are saying “Wow, I have to get some of that heavenly looking close embrace!” I'm guessing instead it is part of a perceptible attitude shift. Realizing the big reason for my Tango Distanceness has unlocked the door. I'm guessing the ladies can sense something is better in TD town. Maybe it's being more relaxed? Maybe being a simpler person, going down to a four core processor running 4 threads rather than a single core processor trying to do 16 simultaneous threads? Maybe my dance partners and the ladies watching actually like my clunky attempts at close embrace?

    Tango Distance has taken a step forward.
  18. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    Hey nice job man! I would say all of these are clear signs you're getting better and you're on the right track. Sometimes improvement is hard to notice in ourselves, so it's nice to have these outside reminders we're doing well.

    Without any more context, it really feels like these ladies were flirting with you. Seems inappropriate, so I'd be careful. And keep DW happy...always try to seek her out for last tanda even when another tries to lure you away.
    Tango Distance likes this.
  19. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Thanks for posting, I can miss the obvious at times! I think you are right (pretty sure in one of the two cases, anyway). It should be obvious I'm married with DW nearby and wearing a ring. I have observed sometimes recently divorced ladies can be "too friendly." If I think someone is too friendly I tell DW about it. Also, I always start and finish the night with her, plus often Tandas in the middle.
  20. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    Sounds like you're going about it the right way! I swear...when I go out alone I never get flirted with. It's only when I'm with my girlfriend when the blatant stuff happens.
    Mladenac and Tango Distance like this.

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