Tango Argentino > Went to my first milonga...

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by BritishExpat3, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. BritishExpat3

    BritishExpat3 New Member

    Ive been doing tango for about 1.5 months.

    I love the lessons sometimes doing them up to 4 times a week. My teacher asked me to go to the milonga, i was hesitant but i went.

    I was by far the least experienced and it showed. Wanted to leave after 45minutes but i went for it and danced with a few women using the little i knew. One lady rejected me but i know that happens. Got to the point where I didnt want to dance in order not to hinder the other dancers.

    Just feel really demotivated.
    Anyone had similar experiences?
  2. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    First milonga is a milestone, but is never supposed to be a nice experience for a leader.
    Not sure what was the point of your teacher. He knew it would terrible. Is he the organizer? But even so, he gains an entrance fee but loses a student. Or maybe there are too many leaders in his class and he's trying to make a few of them leave.

    Feel free to come here for advice. We are different people with different opinions but at least what we say will be sincere, and not guided by our financial interest.
  3. BritishExpat3

    BritishExpat3 New Member

    Thanks for your reply. My studio has a lot of teachers and the teacher in question is probably one of the lower ones, far from management or anything I'd presume so I don't think financial incentive was the reason, could be wrong though, besides, the milonga was jam packed. In terms of leader/follower ratio, 80% of the time there are too many followers. I like to think it was a way of pushing me to take it further, she didn't ask any other beginners for example.
  4. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    But even a female instructor should know that while being milonga-ready can be achieved by a follower in less than one hour, it takes considerably longer for a leader.
  5. Reuven Thetanguero

    Reuven Thetanguero Active Member

    I remember asking myself at the first Milonga I attended "What am I doing here??" As a leader it's tough. Men, by nature, must feel secure in knowing what they are doing. Being new to Tango, not feeling that you know exactly what you are doing was nerve racking for me.
    But that was also a turning point: I decided to become the best Tanguero I can be. Lessons, practice more lessons and more practice is what it takes. If you go to a Milonga (which I recommend you keep doing) even if you just sit and watch other dancing - you learn a lot.
    If you took so far group lessons only, consider taking some privates from reputable teachers, preferably from such that grew up with Tango. Even though I danced at one point for almost a year, taking lessons with Daniela Arcuri opened my eyes.
  6. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Why are you demotivated? As far as I can tell, your first time went amazing. You are at 1.5 months, and yet you even managed to get on the floor and dance some!
  7. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think everybody has these experiences all the times. What helps me is trying to enjoy my tango experiences for what they are, and not to measure them against something that they are not (and probably actually can't be). Like the old prayer: "Give me the strength to change things i can change, the courage to not change things i can't change, and the wisdom to distinguish between the two".

    What are you demotivated about? Based on what you wrote you had a pretty successful milonga as far as these things go - you had several dances, and every partner you asked for a dance except for one accepted your invitation. Tbh, that is about all one can expect from a milonga.

    Unless the dancefloor moved very fast (which i have only very rarely experienced) it is unlikely that you hindered other dancers - in my experience it is overambitous intermediate dancers and self-absorbed advanced dancers who actually bring the ronda to a grinding halt.

    The main problem that leaders have in the beginning is that it is often not immediately obvious how the things learned in class work on the dancefloor - there are people everywhere, and they keep getting in the way, and then the whole plan gets messed up by a couple suddenly popping up where i wanted to move to, and a new plan needs to be set up, but the music and the ronda keeps pushing, and there no time and space to properly reset.

    And the bad news is that there is no good solution for that - the only way to get comfortable with the dynamics of the social dancefloor is by dancing on it. Its like driving in the city - at first it feels overwhelming, but over time it becomes second nature.

    What helps is to not dance anything that requires more than 1 step as a setup - this reduces the need to look into the future, and makes it much easier to judge if it fits into the space and rhythm the dancefloor is giving us. And if even this is too much, and it doesn't work out because somebody jumped in front of us then i am a big fan of rocksteps - basically everything can be aborted into a rock step, or started from one, and it is easier to keep the connection with the partner and music when doing rocksteps than when just stopping (actually i think standing still is one of the more advanced skills in tango ;)
    sixela and raindance like this.
  8. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Good for you for getting out there! Try looking at it as a motivator. Now you know what it's like, so work toward feeling more comfortable in that environment. Are there any practicas you can go to? They are generally more casual and less intimidating.
  9. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    My first experiences were easier in that I went and danced with my DW (Dear Wife) -- so I had a guaranteed dance partner. One thought is try to recruit one or more of your classmates to join you.

    My experience has been that the ladies are very nice, and don't have high expectations for a newby. I don't know that it goes the other way as much, but FWIW I enjoy dancing with newby follows, even people that have never danced before, after 2.x years of Tango experience. Remember those kind ladies who dance with you now -- you'll want to be sure to put them high on your ask list when you have greatly improved.

    1.5 months is pretty early. While I still have much to learn, I can't believe how much better I am after 2 years than the first year. I thought I would learn slower and slower, but it seems I am learning faster and faster. It's not that I learned a bunch of new steps in the 2nd year, but things like quickly changing a mistake into a new step, throwing in double-times at good points, being more relaxed, doing cabeceo, chaining things together, and being able to do 10 different things in a row (starting I had to do the same thing 4 times, then the next thing 4 times, etc., because I couldn't think any faster!). It was not so much new steps but doing my old ones so much better.

    You can read about my first Milongas on my thread:

    I had a pretty disastrous 2nd Milonga (my touchy-feely issues, hopefully you don't have those!) and first true close embrace class (those darn touchy-feely issues again), but I'm glad I persevered.
    raindance and twnkltoz like this.
  10. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi Expat, I had totally different experiences. I went to my first milonga before I started tango. Everyone welcomed me, almost every woman dragged me to the dance floor, almost every leader showed me something, and I had to promise to return. I had to stop dancing for three years (surgeries) but I kept on going to milongas, nevertheless. Simply put the pressure off.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2017
  11. Oliver

    Oliver Member

    Yes, of course it's demotivating, and there's lots of rejection, and you make a fool of yourself. I experienced all of those, as have most leaders. There's nothing wrong with you for feeling those things.

    Classes can't prepare you for every reality of a milonga. And we don't have men-only practicas where you apprentice as a follower, then mentor as a leader, before your first milonga, like back in the day. So I'm not sure there's any getting around the process of demotivation and flailing--except to got to milongas until you get better.

    It took me six months to get the point where I could have an overall positive experience more of the time than not, and a year before I feel reasonably confident that I can have a nice dance with a wide variety of people.

    Please don't give up. It's worth the time and effort.
    itwillhappen likes this.
  12. Reuven Thetanguero

    Reuven Thetanguero Active Member

    This is what's happening in smaller communities. We live in a suburb on NYC where new comers are treated as nice as you describe.
    But if you go to big city Milongas, you'll have a different experience.
    Oliver likes this.
  13. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    The NY tango scene might be bigger than our´s in Hamburg, but I think a friendly enrollment may also happen at a cliquy high-end milonga, Reuven. It's all about psychology and appearence. I think it is as likely to be cold-shouldered at a small suburban milonga while breaking into the balanced equilibrium.
  14. Reuven Thetanguero

    Reuven Thetanguero Active Member

    Glad to hear you are in Hamburg. We are going to visit Hamburg in July. I am going to send you a Personal Message if you don't mind.
    opendoor likes this.
  15. koinzell

    koinzell Active Member

    I started tango in a small non-profit community where they have a class before the milonga. A night of tango was only $5. I remember going to my first milonga in a larger community (DC) 2-3 months into tango. I didn't have the greatest experience but I was not discouraged either because I knew I had a tango home to return to!
    opendoor likes this.
  16. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    You _can_ sit out when you think it's too crowded (or hectic) for your current navigational skills. Milongas usually have a different vibe at different moments; observe and you'll learn to recognize the most beginner-friendly moments (usually either quite early or quite late in the evening).
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  17. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    Of course - like the most leaders - but I got enough compensation in the classes to take that.
    Suddenly most of the lessons there got easy and I enjoyed simply to dance.
    After a year I stopped taking regular classes and now I select a nice workshop from time to time...
  18. TangoBeyond

    TangoBeyond New Member

    Arggh! I have been lurking but I had to chime in to this one. I started tango in January of this year--after a lot of experience in ballroom and latin.

    I thought, "No problem."

    I paid attention and worked hard. Thought I was doing well in the beginner class. Then I went to a weekend event that included a milonga and workshops.

    Oh. My. Goodness.

    It's like the difference between karate classes and street fighting.

    I was bumping knees. Stepping on toes. I had no idea about the real way to lead (my teacher was just teaching us steps every week). I could only dance quasi-successfully with people from my class (of which there were a few).

    The workshops were horrific. My partner kept saying, "I can't feel where you are going."

    I was so mortified I just changed my shoes and left. I'm not a quitter but this felt like smashing my head against a brick wall.

    I actually stopped dancing entirely for a few months to lick my wounds. My pride was devastated.

    After reading a lot of the net and watching a lot of videos, I kind of started to figure out how tango is done and how long it takes to learn as a leader (one website said about a year to get the basic confidence and skill to lead--and I believe that is accurate).

    Now finishing my 2nd 12-week beginner class and attending the odd practica (which still feels very awkward with 'new people') and I can imagine after about a year feeling OK to maybe start attending Milongas again.

    My beginner advice?

    1. Personally I think everyone should learn to follow from a competent leader for months before beginning to learn to lead (I guess this was how it was done in Argentina originally?). I've been 'switching' in classes due to imbalance of leaders/followers and it's been teaching me a lot.

    2. As a leader, find a few 'safe people' to practice with--as in lessons with the teacher or going to practicas with a fellow class member to practice what you are learning in class...to cushion the ego from those who are more advanced. I hate the feeling of incompetence and worse--giving the lady a bad experience--from my lack of skill. So if she's also in the same boat or being paid, I feel better...

    3. Realize it will take a year, more or less, to be ready to dance tango 'in the wild'. Tango is more like learning a foreign language than a basic series of steps. I see a lot of people quitting because they have the expectation that it will go faster than it does.

    I appreciate those who are more advanced being encouraging. Tango is like a secret club that can easily become a clique. I'm lucky I have a good community (here in SLC) who are fairly good about being open to new people. If a couple of the more experienced ones hadn't kept welcoming me, I would have quit for good, I am sure.
  19. Vincenze

    Vincenze Member

    Usually, you can learn to lead only if you attend a private class with a teacher who will explain you how to move your body and who will correct you.
    At least, you can find a group class with good teachers that costs more than usual - there will be fewer students and you'll get more attention.
    TangoBeyond likes this.
  20. Reuven Thetanguero

    Reuven Thetanguero Active Member

    I started learning Tango like most, in group classes. I did learn quite few steps and routines and ventured to Milongas. That was not an easy experience, as my leading skills were minute at best. It was a struggle for a while until I signed up for private lessons with a professional Argentinian Tango teacher (Daniela Arcuri).

    That was an eye opener; for the first time I got an understanding what Tango is all about.
    My recommendation is do the same - find an instructor who lives an breaths Tango (from early age).
    While it may cost you some money upfront, it will be a great shortcut to building your skills, knowledge and confidence.

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