Tango Argentino > What do Women Want?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by larrynla, May 26, 2009.

  1. larrynla

    larrynla Member

    People are always assuming what women want. A frequent answer is "connection, emotion, none of that acrobatic stuff."

    The problem is this is just assumption. Some men say this because, after all, "women are creatures of emotion." Some women say this because that is their desire. They assume all other women (except some oddballs who can be ignored) feel exactly the same as they do. Or they like the role of tango police, and say it to shame other women into doing tango "the right way" - that is, their way.

    But every woman (and man) is unique. Some women love a dance that is complex and challenging, that gives them a chance to expand on their role.

    For men my answer to the question is - "Ask." I don't mean verbally. I mean with the language of the body. And always ask, even if the woman is someone you have known for years and have danced with earlier in the evening. Women and men may feel very differently at different times. Maybe she's gotten tired late in the evening, or hurt her back - or was tired earlier and has become excited and energized.

    "Asking" doesn't mean a man should try all the more challenging stuff immediately. I like to try simple movements first, then less simple. I feel what works and what doesn't. A woman might be able to turn to the right easily, but find left turns harder, for instance.

    The key to asking (and answering) is a good connection, and not just physically but mentally. Perhaps this is the point of some people whose answer to this question is "connection." Because without good communication and caring for and cooperating with each other not even the simplest dance is possible.

    But once a couple has established a good "connection" and have become in a sense one person sharing two bodies, what does one do? Just walk?

    Well, maybe that is enough for many people. "Just walking" may seem easy but the more you dance you more you realize how important the basics really are, how hard they are to do well. Getting that right as part of a couple, to the music, as part of the flow along the dance floor, can be very satisfying. And it is absolutely essential for going beyond the basics.

    "Women don't like to do acrobatic stuff?" Well, maybe you don't, but is it really right for you to dictate to every other woman what she loves or doesn't love to do?

    Right about here people often counter with "But acrobatics gets in the way of other people!" Certainly they do if they take up lots of space or are flashy or interfere with the flow of others. But it is entirely possible to do complex actions that are compact and inconspicuous and considerate of others. Complexity can be subtle and noticeable only to one's partner.

    So instead of assuming "what women want" why don't you find out?

    Laer Carroll
  2. bafonso

    bafonso New Member

    I find it much more interesting to find out what they like and then take it away from them sometimes.

    Predictable dancers are boring, never give in to it :)
  3. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    The "what women want" thing is for beginners who are worried that they have nothing to give to their partner. Otherwise I would expect what you've said to be a given. But maybe Im wrong??
  4. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Yes, you are; For a beginner just to learn technique is enough without worrying about what women want. I think Larrynla is right maybe you have to ask.

    I would offer some possibilities;

    1. A bit of wow-factor now and again
    2. A shared musicality
    3. A sense of being safe in your confident dancing
    4. Space to do adornos
    5. To be dancing rather than sitting down

    like the joke about women asking men to do things : "you can either ask me to do it or tell how it should be done but not both"

    transposed to dance: "you can either let me dance the way I choose or you can become a leader yourself"
  5. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    POSTSCRIPT: If the "connection" was so important why would people bother dancing in the first place. I had a lovely dance last Sunday with a French woman who had never danced tango before; she followed me with great ease through her own dancing skills - (mostly folk, I believe); and you would never have believed that she hadnt had a tango lesson in her life.
  6. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    But it's too late by then, the lady is already dancing with you.
  7. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    What makes a good lover? One who communicates generously and sympathetically with their partner. Same thing. (Note: question should not be confined to the follower only. Leaders have their needs/wishes too).

    A testament to how clear, communicative and sympathetic you were in your lead no less.
  8. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Vous etes trop gentille, madamoiselle.
  9. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member


    You'll never get any woman to tell you precisely "what they want". Doesnt happen in real life : wont happen on the dance floor. Heather's answer is the best you'll get.
  10. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Oui. Je sais. ;-)
  11. larrynla

    larrynla Member

    Good point. I've found that some women get annoyed when you surprise them. Others delight in a mischievous man.
  12. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Why would I take advice from a guy on what women want? I would think that women would be much better qualified to say what they want, (not that I think they all want the same exact thing).

  13. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I am not sure that there is a specific "thing" women want.

    I mean, i know myself pretty well, and i could not answer this question for myself - some days i feel mellow, some days i feel like running around, some days i want to rack up as many fancy moves as i can think of. So the idea that there is a magic formula to what women want (or even what one specific woman might want) seems overly optimistic to me.

    Ampster wrote on his blog a while ago that he views the practice of "dialing in" as one of the most important parts of tango, and i think this applies here.

    For a good dance we both (leader and follower) have to try to be aware of what the other person is dancing, and then try to shape something that pleasurable for both of us. And sometimes followers don't even want connection, and instead they just want lots of space to play, and sometimes doing the shuffling hug style of tango is what they feel like, and then we have to negotiate how to reconcile this with what i want.
    Thats the nice thing about the tanda system - a couple that tries to calibrate to each other will usually be in sync after 1 or 2 songs, and then we have at least one song just for fun.

  14. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I haven't read the other responses yet, so maybe someone already covered this....

    In my experience, when women say they want connection etc rather than acrobatic stuff, what they really mean is that they would rather have connection done well than acrobatic stuff done badly.
    If they have to choose.
    Which often they do...

    In truth? My personal opinion is that most people "want it all". They'd rather NOT have to choose. They'd like all the "basic" stuff (connection, emotion, solid technique on the walk, a good feel for the music, etc) AND they'd like some fun stuff, some variation, and all those things also.

    As a gross generalization, I think most women (and probably men) want to feel good dancing and also believe that they LOOK good dancing. They care about how they feel inside and how they appear to others.

    Does that mean that they are "too focused on showing off"? No. Does it mean they are shallow? No. Does it mean they don't understand tango? no.

    Maybe somewhere in the world there is someone who TRULY doesn't care a whit how they look or how others view them when they dance tango. If they look totally horrible, sloppy, clutzy, whatever, and they know it, it doesn't matter at all to them as long as they feel good while dancing.

    I've never met this hypothetical person. I imagine that few people can actually wrap their head around the idea of feeling good during a dance while at the same time knowing they look awful.

    The quantity of "fancy stuff" that people feel they need to have in order to look good, feel good, and enjoy the dance is going to vary quite a bit from person to person, and even for one person from time to time. Possibly even for someone from one partner to the next.

    I feel sad for anyone who feels they MUST have fancy show moves to enjoy a dance at all. For one thing, they're going to spend a lot of their tango time dissatisfied. However I will also admit to being dissatisfied if I don't dance even one dance all evening that uses more than 30% of my "vocabulary". Or if I dance with someone who I know can lead that stuff well and he chooses not to do it with me after doing it with other partners during the evening.

    A single tanda often isn't the issue of "what women want". Its what they want over the course of the evening. In tat case, the answer is usually... variety.
  15. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I think there's also an element of what anyone EXPECTS from a dance and a particular partner.

    If you are in a somewhat small community (as I am), you probably know the other folks and their dancing reasonably well. You know that so and so is great at tango and not as great at milonga. Or you know that someone has a great simple close-embrace and someone else is a lot of fun at sweeping nuevo. (just in writing that I know exactly which leaders I'd tag with those descriptions in my community)

    Now certainly people can surprise you. I recently had a wonderful tanda with someone who I always enjoyed, well... ok, but never got really excited about because his use of traditional highly rhythmic music (think D'Arienzo) didn't feel peppy enough for my taste (and that's what we seemed to always end up dancing). Everything else felt good, but he didn't seem to be able to use the music or the rhythm.

    That night we happened to dance a tanda to soft "flowy" neo stuff and it was GREAT. I don't think even he realized how much better that music suited his way of moving, but he USED the music in a way I hadn't ever known him to. I also played more myself (because I had time) and he loved what I put in. We really created a dance together, and we had never done that before.

    Point to the story... I'll definitely be trying to catch his eye for that style of music again!

    But for the most part, you kinda get a feel for what you enjoy most with specific partners and you start to EXPECT that.

    So when the guy who is great at close embrace simple stuff decides he wants to do something completely different, and he's going to use his tanda with YOU to do it... then it might be dissapointing, especially if you were really looking forward to dancing with him because he's the best at the close stuff.

    Or the leader you usually have a fun tanda of big moves that really challenge you decides he's tired and he does nothing more than basic walking & ochos, and leaves out all his sacadas, ganchos, turns, whirls, unusual stuff he invented, etc... well... damn.... I've been walking all night, and I finally get to dance with him, and all we do is walk... darn.

    Does it mean that I'm dissapointed whenever a leader doesn't do anything fancy?
    It means I'm dissapointed that THIS PARTICULAR leader didn't do anything fancy because I know he can, and I know I enjoy it with him.

    Again... point to the story? What do women want?
    Otherwise they'd just find someone who dances "what they want" and try to partner up with him in a way that they mostly just dance with him all night.
  16. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    thats me. I spent years avoiding looking at myself when friends had videod me

    and I noticed with some dancers i danced with on Sunday felt fine to dance with but didn't look so good when you watched them, but I dont know why there was this paradox
  17. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I'm not following you (sorry... no pun intended..) it sounds like you are saying just the opposite... you avoided watching yourself.. because you didn't care? If you AVOIDED it, it sounds like you DID care (and didn't want to know). If you didn't care, it wouldn't matter enough to avoid it, would it?

    Also, maybe its just the wording, but it seems like you are saying that your partners didn't look good when you finally watched.. not that YOU didn't look good?

    I'm just saying I'm confused by your response.
  18. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    That'd be me then :)

    Or... at least... that reflects my priorities. Up until, say, a few months ago, I didn't care how I looked when dancing, I just wanted to be able to provide A/ a clear lead then B/ musicality.

    Now, eventually, I'm starting to fix my sloppiness, and improve how I "look" - but to me, that's always been way waaaay down the priority list.

    If they look totally horrible, sloppy, clutzy, whatever, and they know it, it doesn't matter at all to them as long as they feel good while dancing.

    That said, I agree that people tend to want it all, and I'm not a woman :D
  19. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Or there's wanting to look good, not just for the sake of looking good, but on the premise that good technique is often reflected in visually appealing dancing.
  20. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    But I also assume that you or anyone else who feels this way also wants other people to want to dance with them

    Even people here on the forum have stated that they WATCH someone they don't know and decide whether to dance with them based on what they see.

    Therefore someone who looks bad is probably going to have more trouble convincing strangers to dance with them. Maybe word gets around that someone is a really great partner despite their "appearance"

    ... or maybe not.

    It sorta depends on WHO gives them a chance and whether what that person says carries any weight with other dancers, how big the community is, etc....

    If looking bad doesn't adversely affect someone's ability to find partners, then I can see that they might not care. But I also think that the circumstances where that is the case are probably NOT widespread. And that many people, even if they are in in one of those situations, probably assume that it WILL adversely affect them.

    (and we're not even getting into the issue of caring about whether your partner looks good...)

    Certainly a trained and objective eye can recognize GOOD quality of movement when they see it. But... its actually not all that easy for the average tango-er in a casual setting watching people go by on the dance floor, to judge whether a follower looks BAD because she isn't any good or because she's being led badly.

    Its also sorta hard to tell when watching a stranger that she is actually a great follower and a joy to dance with even though the outward "look" of her movement/ posture/ whatever appears awkward, sloppy, amaturish.. (again.. whatever)

    Maybe I'm way off base.. Maybe I'M just shallow. Or maybe its a male/female thing.

    But I can't think of any woman I know who truly doesn't care if she looks like crap when she dances tango, or whether other people think so.

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