Tango Argentino > Not touchy feely

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

  1. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Ganchos with my mother-in-law backfired... Now she wants both ganchos and hugs! At one event to each lady that wanted a greeting hug I said "Gancho?" and held my arms out in dance position. They all seemed to think it was a neat way to do a greeting, and I got out of several hugs! Win-win!

    Tango itself has been fun, and DW's enjoyment has made it very worthwhile. It was eye opening for me when I switched partners and the lady followed as if reading my mind. Now DW and I can do it, great stuff!

    Now that I have read up on the topic, I'm seeing introverts in Tango. I'm not alone. I used to think dancers were extroverts by definition. It was also really valuable for me to understand the difference between shyness and introversion/extroversion.

    I never would have guessed a simple dance class would lead me down this road! I also never expected to write so much.
    twnkltoz, raindance and LadyLeader like this.
  2. pascal

    pascal Active Member

    Maybe the baise-main can come in handy. Probably the desperate-for-a-hug lady has both her arms extended forward. You grab only one hand, you bow, and you make it look like you kiss her hand.
    It's classy, vintage and all. After that, the lady cannot now ask for more.
  3. Ya know, I'm gonna try using ganchos as a greeting...
    Tango Distance likes this.
  4. Juniper Ivy

    Juniper Ivy Member

    I have enjoyed reading this thread and learning about TD's foray into tango. It is interesting to me since I am usually pretty comfortable with touch, including close embrace. And the not touchy feely perspective is new and different to me. Something I struggle to comprehend. I consider myself balanced between extrovert and introvert. But one thing that does make me squirm is eye contact. And I feel comfortable in close embrace partially because there is no eye contact and no need for smiling to communicate pleasure or other such social niceties that some people expect. I would rather concentrate on the dance than bother with all that.

    I found it interesting how you came to tango in order to make DW happy and despite your uncomfortableness with switching partners, you have obviously found significant personal meaning in tango, as evidence by your voluminous writing on the topic and you chosing to attend classes without DW. Maybe there exists a desire deep inside you to overcome your aversion to physical contact?

    My partner is also not a touchy feely person and reading your account helps me to understand him a little. He prefers open embrace too. I like dancing more than he does and it is not unusual for me to go dancing without him or to arrive before he does. Sometimes he chooses to only dance with me and it does make me worry that he is not having a good time when I see him sitting out. He says there are not many women he enjoys dancing with and he prefers to save his energy.

    I also relate to your experiences with anxiety during dancing. I have frequently felt that way and anxiety makes it impossible to dance my best. But getting anxious about anxiety only compounds the problem so it is something I try to just accept gracefully when it happens.

    Hope your tango dancing is continuing to go well.
  5. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    JI thanks for your post and apologies for being so slow to respond, things have been hopping for TD.

    voluminous: I have never posted like this on more personal (dare I say, "touchy feely") topics before this. It was not really a plan, but I received so much positive feedback for the writing and it has been good therapy for me to write about all this stuff. It really has forced me to look at myself in a new light, has enabled self discoveries, and raised my awareness of how to be nicer to others.

    classes: I did get to take the beginner's class a 2nd time for free, DW didn't want to. Since it was free it was no risk to try it, and it turns out I really enjoyed doing it even though DW wasn't there. So I don't know that a class without DW started out as anything deep, but I think it turned out to be a great thing for me. I'm planning to retake a 2nd level Tango course.

    I think it is a "yes and no" answer.

    I think it was like black licorice. I don't like it, and don't feel a particular lack in life doing without it. I didn't and don't feel any particular pang of loss missing out on all those hugs.

    What is different now is I think I am seeing the bigger picture better. Before my brain devoted 100% of its processing cycles on avoiding hugs or minimizing the hugs, kind of a fight-or-flight thing that left no room for thinking of others. Open embrace is not exactly hugging, but I have been impressed at the number (generally 100%) of ladies that look really happy when dancing. It has been a personal growth thing to know I can spread a little joy around. So that is one advantage to open embrace, you can see how happy that person is. Hugs and close embrace just weren't as obvious to me that they made others happy, I guess, as you don't see the person's face. Maybe I'm a visual learner to a fault. I am trying hard to make hugs a good (but brief!) experience for the other party -- after all, really what is it costing me?

    I have more responses to your post coming and some adventures to write up. DW gave me doe eyes and batted her lashes to encourage me to give a beginner's close embrace class a try. She pointed out it is not an advanced class like before. I'm stressed just thinking about it!
    ocean-daughter likes this.
  6. tangobro

    tangobro Active Member

    Thank you TD, for starting & continuing this thread, & thanks also to the others who have joined in to say they have a similar perspective. It has opened my eyes to another aspect of the social/cultural differences that affect the personal experience of AT. Within my community the predominant form of greeting occurs with hugs and kisses, and even those who are perceived as "cold' greet within arms length with a handshake & perhaps a touch of the shoulder or back. I mention this because in a thread posted sometime ago by someone else, I remember thinking it odd that a poster said she had a hard time telling the difference between a cabeceo & someone who is greeting her from across the room. At the time I thought it was normal for greetings to occur within "personal space" so a nod from someone at a distance would otherwise be interpreted as a cabeceo. Your postings about discomfort with strangers within your "personal space" helps me to understand how social/cultural differences affect the dynamics on the dance floor & to realize that because a lady does not dance in an embrace with me, it may not be about me.
    Tango Distance likes this.
  7. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Thanks for the kudos. I'm glad this has been helpful to others, it certainly has been for me. You brought up an excellent point, just because we non-huggers don't hug you, or give a minimalist hug, doesn't mean we don't like you!

    I have been reading about the touchy-feely thing. There are various reasons for disliking touch. One I found particularly interesting is that those who dislike touch often will remove the tags from their clothes. Guess who often removes the tags from his clothes? Ladies, if you think you've found me, please just live with the uncertainty and don't look under the collar for a clue!

    I have had quite a few Tango adventures. I'll post them over the course of a few days. Foreshadowing: Tango Distance does a beginners' close embrace class, read on to find out how that went. Disclaimer: They are presented in no particular order, and a few unimportant details have been changed to help protect my anonymity.
    ocean-daughter likes this.
  8. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Tango Distance does a Workshop

    I felt I needed to approach my next workshop very carefully. I didn't want a repeat of the close embrace workshop. I chose just a single class, an all levels musicality class. It went very well, it was all open embrace and everyone was very nice -- that is, until the very end (dun dun dun dun!). The instructor said come in close (as he often did during the class). He said come closer. He said come closer still until everyone was touching shoulders. Tango Distance is definitely getting a little worried at this point. He then said, turn to your right! We all turned. I was thinking, "This can't be good." He then said, "Massage your neighbor's shoulders!" I gingerly barely met the legal definition. The person massaging me was totally getting into it. The instructor said it was OK to make noises. What was a subliminal purr became clearly audible moans of delight. Then the instructor said, "Now left!" Egads, not again! DW found my predicament quite funny and was good naturedly laughing about it for weeks.

    The workshop was full of very experienced and very good Tango dancers. Almost all of them were from out-of-state. I was likely the worst male Tanguero there! The Milonga that night was all close embrace. I didn't know anyone except DW and felt out of my league, so I just danced with DW that night. She did remind me that I had some success in dancing with everyone in the class. BTW I have done some switching partners in 4 of my last 5 Milongas, so the general trend of more switching is holding.


    Not much to say here. We did the 1 hour cram course before the actual dance. DW asked if Iwanted to switch partners. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess how I answered! It was a form of time travel. DW and I were right back to Tango day 1! We had trouble finding the beat, and following didn't just flow like it does now with Tango. It was still fun. Tango helped me adapt faster, for instance I could do mistake recovery much faster and get back on the beat much faster.

    Tango Distance Hugs his Mother-in-Law (MiL)

    After traveling 2000 miles, I met my MiL at the airport. DW took one exit, I took another.My MiL came out the exit I was covering. I gave her what I thought was a great, friendly, and loving hug. The first thing she told DW was it was the worst hug she had ever received! Maybe I should switch back to gancho greetings!

    Tango Distance Talks to Advanced Close Embrace Lady Stuck with Me

    Remember the poor lady that was stuck with me when I was struggling with the advanced close embrace workshop? All she knew of me was, per her words "my embrace felt good." I basically tried to apologize for taking 100% of her time that night, but that just seemed to make things worse. She tried to give me a big hug at a later Milonga. Taken by surprise, apparently I oozed that I didn't want to be hugged (or she was perceptive enough to pick up on it). This confused this poor lady. I tried to explain how I wasn't touchy-feely. The conversations were just getting more stilted and I felt funny about asking her to dance after the stilted conversations. This was drawn out over a small number of events but over the course of several weeks. I'm a smart guy in some ways, but a little slow in others. I realized what I was doing wasn't working, so I took another approach. I told her I wasn't a touchy feely guy, and that she must be quite an instructor to get me through 1/2 hour, a record amount of non-romantically involved closeness to a female. In retrospect that was emphasizing the positive aspect in most Tanguero's minds, rather than my personal thoughts on hugs. That conversation went well and we are dancing again without my feeling awkward about it. She also now gives me a quick side hug rather than an extended frontal hug – I appreciate that!

    Tango Distance Confuses his Instructor

    My female instructor had me do a figure with her. She said something like "I don't know exactly what is wrong but that doesn't feel right." I consider that progress! Apparently I have learned enough that I'm moving past the obvious problems to the more subtle ones!
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2015
  9. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I just love your stories!
  10. I'm enjoying this too!

    The dance journey permeates all of life.

    And I need to try gancho greetings. But I never seem to remember.
    Tango Distance likes this.
  11. koinzell

    koinzell Active Member

    Tango Distance, do you face your partner?
  12. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    I generally gaze at DW's eyes when we dance, but just do occasional looks with others. I'm an open embrace dancer at this point, but I have a close embrace story upcoming.
  13. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Tango Distance does Contra Dancing

    We invited friends, a married couple, to do Tango. DW and I gave them a crash course lesson before the Milonga. They did well, and thanks to some coaching on Milonga etiquette fit in well (unlike myself my first time!). The lady had a great time. The man indicated he was merely tolerating it, and it sounded like he would never do it again.

    The wife had done Contra dancing in her past life, but the husband never had. She invited us to try it, and shamed her husband into joining. All four of us had a great time.

    There are some big differences from Tango. I would rate Contra as “rated G” (The U.S. designation that a movie is approved for all audiences). There were little kids joining the fun. I would rate Tango as “rated PG” (Parental Guidance suggested, not really for younger kids).

    Even though I don't fully get it myself, I can see Tango is about “the connection” for many people. Many Tangoers seem to like this prolonged hugging thing called close embrace. Contra dancing to me seems to be more about the joy of motion, in the way that playground swings, spinning kids around, etc. is fun. There are very brief bursts of open embrace spinning about, that's as close as Contra dancing gets.

    In Contra you are half the time with the partner you started the dance with, and half the time you rotate through all the other ladies if you are male, and males if you are female. Literally every few seconds you are mixing things up. In Tango, it is the same partner for about 10 minutes at a time.

    Contra has a “caller” that calls out each move before you do it, and the moves are more simple than for Tango. The same group of moves is done over and over. Contra is in that way easier than Tango. I think reasonable proficiency could be achieved in a few dances, with no outside lessons <ducks and covers from contrary opinions from the contra fans>. If you make a mistake, it is obvious as everyone is doing the same thing at the same time. Mistakes are part of the fun, though, as many as three people will push and/or pull you into position to fix a mistake. In Tango, mistakes don't have to be obvious, indeed even the follower might not know a leader made a mistake. I think Tango, in a way, is easier to start doing – the most basic step is literally walking. If you can walk on the beat and stop once in a while, you are Tangoing.

    The live music was nice at the Contra dance, and I have been told it always has live music. Almost all the Milongas I have attended have played prerecorded music.

    Three of us said we should do it again. Despite his big smile the whole night, and his professed dislike of Tango, our male friend has said something very interesting, multiple times. He said he didn't want Contra dancing messing up his Tango. Hmmm, maybe he likes Tango better than he lets on? We'll see if he goes to the next Milonga.

    It wouldn't be a Tango Distance post without a little introspection on touchy-feely issues, right? A friend had told me Contra dancing is good if you aren't touchy-feely. I agree, although I still would have had to work though some of my touchy-feely issues even then, but the hurdles would have been smaller. Had I done Contra first I might have never started or continued with Tango. Now that I have a running start with Tango, though, “dropping down” to Contra dancing was an easy transition. Not to worry, Tango fans, I'm planning to continue enjoying Tango, too.
    RiseNFall likes this.
  14. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    I love contra dancing! I'm babying a knee at the moment, so skipping it, but it is a huge amount of fun.
    Tango Distance likes this.
  15. This is meant in a good natured, joking manner, since I have a lot of friends who dance contra and really like it. My partner and I dance many other dances, bot not contra. if anyone asks me why not, I just tell them I refuse to be a trained seal being told which horn to blow:).
    twnkltoz and Tango Distance like this.
  16. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Tango Distance Performs in front of Hundreds!

    Our instructor said there was a Tango event that coming weekend... She said it was free! How could I turn that down? I said "Sign us up!" I then later found out it was to demo Tango dancing to hundreds of people at a conference! The conference was not dance related, and this was a conference social. Well, I signed up, and I keep my commitments. I was a bit nervous the first couple of minutes, but then it flowed. I even showed the steps to a conference goer.

    Tango Distance Does Electronic Dance Music

    A good friend really really wanted us to see his favorite band. It was like the movies. Imagine a major industrial downtown area... Homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk, sleeping on the highway median, and sleeping on warehouse docks... The club had that post apocolyptic, abandoned warehouse look... The volume was less than the Krakatoa eruption, but I'm not sure less than a 747 takeoff... People were dressed like the movies, too. Goth, punk, horns, star wars... it was all there.

    Almost all of the "dancing" was jumping up and done whilst synchronously pumping a fist in the air. Thanks to all my Tango classes I was able to catch on in about 2 drum beats. During a canned music intermission DW and I did a little Tango. I think I can honestly say we were 99th percentile dancers that night! Something really neat was some dancers did mini light shows. They had glowing globes on their finger tips and would do fast, snake-like patterns. Someone else had a light on two strings, and by pulling and wiggling the strings it looked like a classic atom picture. That I could see there was zero switching partners and zero close embrace except for DW and me.

    Blues Music and Blues Dancing Contrasts Introvert vs. Extrovert

    I needed to take a trip to a major city for my job. DW perkily suggested I do some Tango while I was away. I told her I wasn't interested if she wasn't there, but later, out of her view, I looked up some Tango opportunities. I decided this activity merited some Blues background music (BTW “Loaded Gun” by the Reverend Horton Heat is an awesome song). As the song played, I realized I would rather go to a Blues club (the major city being a good opportunity for that), sit in a corner, and quietly enjoy the music, rather than do the closeness of Tango, with no one I knew or would ever see again. DW is a big component of my Tango motivation, and she would be far away.

    The next morning I related this story to DW as an example of our yin and yang, introvert and extrovert relationship. After I mentioned preferring to go to a Blues club, but before mentioning I would sit in a corner, she interrupted and said “So you can grind against the women!” Clearly humor was intended, as obviously someone that doesn't like hugs is not about to do that! BTW in the past we had gone to a Blues club one night, and there was some grinding going on. I replied, “Aha! This illustrates my point! The extrovert immediately thinks of grinding against a stranger while the introvert was actually looking forward to sitting quietly in a corner by himself!”

    While perusing some Tango YouTubes I did see a Blues dancing video. As I like Blues music, I was intrigued. DW said it looked too close, even for her. My mind's gears started turning... I like Blues music, DW thinks Blues dancing is too close except for DH (dear husband)... Then the clouds parted, the sun broke through (like the church scene in the “Blues Brothers” video), and a new Blues dance, complete with cram course beforehand, opened up in our state. I am looking forward to giving it a try – hopefully DW won't crack under the pressure and start switching partners!

    Don't worry, Tango fans (and DW if you read this), I'm not looking to replace Tango. It does appeal to me, though, to have the occasional night with Blues music, with DW.
    ocean-daughter and raindance like this.
  17. I'm definitely NOT a tango purist. Dancing tango to blues music is my favorite way to dance tango (basically because I can "feel" blues but have never really been able to "feel" tango music, except in a few cases).
    Tango Distance likes this.
  18. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Tango music has definitely been a challenge for me. I was very dependent on drums for the beat. It was hard (and still can be) for me to find the beat in long violin notes and vocals. For me it is definitely easier to "feel" Blues, too, but in fairness to Tango I have been listening to Blues for a long time and Tango only this year.
  19. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    First Timers, Cabeceo, and Compliments

    Part of my self assigned “therapy” has been to try to ask newbies to dance. I have added asking someone who has been seated for a while, too. It's helpful to me to make a bit of a mission of it – I'm not only trying to lower my personal space barriers, I'm spreading a little joy and making the world a better place, too. Anyway, multiple times now I thought I was inviting a newbie but inadvertently invited an advanced dancer that happened to be visiting the area. The visitors have been very good! That makes sense, if you are into Tango enough to seek it out when on a trip you are probably pretty serious about it. Also, those older ladies that have been sitting out for a time turn out to be very good! I have observed the younger ladies do get asked more (I'm guilty of this myself to a degree, as I feel I'm not good enough yet to ask the good/experienced/older dancers if they are in demand, so I am more likely to ask a younger/less experienced lady.). Some of these ladies have been sitting half the night with no dances, but once I ask them they get regular dances the rest of the night – so that is a good deed.

    I have been trying to do Mirada/Cabeceo more. It is a good system – efficient, discreet, and gives the ladies an equal chance to ask. I have been trying to increase my sphere of awareness. I started this dance thing with near 100% self absorption – I was so worried about myself I didn't have room to worry about others. Now that I have tamped down my issues, my sphere of awareness has grown and I can see I am getting Miradas from the ladies. As I have not engaged active scan mode, I suspect I might be aware of only the more obvious ones – like the lady that walked within 1 meter of me staring into my eyes the whole time! Generally I have been just looking away – surely that excellent dancer is not trying to ask me, is she? I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy, I'm scum! (for now, anyways! I figure just several more years of dedication will make me more worthy...) Anyway, I have been trying to actively ask via Mirada/Cabeceo. I'll have to try answering one of the lady “askers” one of these days. I know many of you in the crowd are thinking “What's the big deal? It's the easiest thing in the world to say yes if someone asks.” While I have made big progress, I'm still at a stage where these things are deliberate plans and not spontaneous. It seems easier if it is under my control and planned ahead a bit, in other words, if I do the asking. That's something to think about, perhaps I should make and follow a detailed plan on how to be more spontaneous.

    I have received a pretty steady stream of compliments from newbies. I always tell them that I'm merely a class or two ahead of them and that they won't be so impressed soon! What has been new for me was recently getting some unsolicited compliments from three good dancers that I had never danced with. Much of the credit goes to DW, with all the practice we do she makes me look good!
    ocean-daughter and RiseNFall like this.
  20. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    All of your post is wonderful and fist bumps to you. Or double high fives. Because of a variety of issues, largely recovering from a Series of Stupid Injuries, I haven't been going to the dance parties at my studio regularly and not dancing much when I do go. My goal for the next one I attend it to a) show up well rested and b) dance with every leader in the room at least once. Because I haven't been doing that much, there are a lot of newish leaders--many part of couples--who I haven't danced with very often. In other words, years later and I still have to make goals for myself, but it is much much more comfortable than it used to be.

Share This Page