Tango Argentino > Why do you choose the partner you choose?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Lois Donnay, Oct 25, 2015.

  1. Lois Donnay

    Lois Donnay Member

    I have obsessed over this alot - watching who people choose to dance with. Let's start with leaders. Many women accuse men of choosing youth and beauty, or the possibility of action off the floor ;). Followers will also claim they are too good, and men are scared of them, or alternatively, accuse leaders of only asking the best. Followers also look at the success of the aggressive women - who don't wait to be asked, but stand in front of guys and ask them directly some other way. (I have a student who hides in the bathroom at milongas to avoid some of these women. I've developed other tactics). My student got royally yelled at by a practice partner because he spent too much time at a practica with a different practice partner. That caused him to dance more with her at the milonga, although I suspect it could have turned out just the opposite. I tend to think it's comfort-you ask the person you know will be accepting and nice to you. I also counsel followers to smile, and be where guys are just coming off the floor. Wearing a bright color helps, too. So, what it the REAL reason you ask one person over the other? C'mon, guys, spill!
  2. JoeB

    JoeB Active Member

    Well, if it's my job to make her look good out there, I've got to have something to start with. If she looks like she's been getting makeup tips from Tim Curry, she's probably going to the bottom of the list.
  3. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    I choose those who I like, are not scared of dancing with me, and allowed to dance with me. :cool:
    Lois Donnay likes this.
  4. oldtangoguy

    oldtangoguy Active Member

    I choose partners who manage their own weight, whether in close embrace or open - whichever is event appropriate. If I see a follow leaning on her partner, I will not ask, even if it is a close embrace event. Similarly, if it looks like it might put weight on my right arm, or if she insists on connecting with her left forearm to my right (for an open embrace), I will not ask (again)

    I also watch for follows who can walk. Who push and pivot with the best of them. Who will not allow me to step on their toes if I take a long step and will not back away from me by over-reaching. Follows who, generally, wait to feel my heel strike, then transfer their weight.

    Basically, I choose a partner with whom it appears that I might have a fun dance. Age doesn't matter. Beauty doesn't matter. Weight doesn't matter too much, although if it looks like I'll be driving a tank, or pushing a fridge, I won't ask.

    I keep fit, take a lot of lessons, and practice a lot. I expect no less from a partner.
    aurel likes this.
  5. koinzell

    koinzell Active Member

    At a festival I would choose youth and beauty.
    If I'm visiting another community, I would observe and choose from the best dancers.
    Within my own community, why I choose one woman over another has to do with her confidence in her technique.

    The best dancers only want to dance with the best dancers.
  6. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    I watch how women M-O-V-E. Do they take long or short steps? (I prefer long steps; the longer the better.) Do they finish their pivots; or cheat and cross behind? I look at the embrace. If it looks like she's pushing her right arm sideways, I won't dance with her because she will tear my rotator cuff. Does she use her right arm to pull and push herself through ochos?

    While she's sitting, does she indicate desire to dance? Is she looking for a partner or immersed in conversation with another woman or checking her mail on her mobile device? Body language sends a clear message even if the woman doesn't realize it.

    Lastly, if I had a horrible tanda, I'll be sure to remember her face and not invite again.

    Merit is more important to me than looks.
  7. Lois Donnay

    Lois Donnay Member

    Hmmm...nobody mentioned a musical follower. Because I am a teacher, I tend to ask my students first, although this gets some women mad at me (I had a woman last night who blocked me from asking the woman I wanted. If she can't get her own teacher to dance with her, should I?). Next, though, is the musical followers, whether or not they take lessons or have excellent technique. They bring me joy. I also like to take out a beginner or two now and them, just to see if my leading is as good as it should be.

    Attached Files:

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  8. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    It's difficult to judge a woman's musicality. A lousy leader can throw her off beat or rush her boleo.
  9. Someday

    Someday Member

    There are many reasons I ask a woman to dance:
    * Dancing ability - musicality, technique, playfulness, taking control (within limits...goes with playfulness).
    * Friendship and fun - I have a number of followers who I dance with where we just 'click' and it's pure fun.
    * Feedback - when I dance with my teachers (which makes me nervous as heck), they may give one or two pointers even in Milongas. And, I like to demonstrate to them that I am learning from their instruction.

    * Friendliness - this is important to me. Unless I've ruled out the dancer as a follower due to very bad technique and not getting better, I'll ask someone who is new in the practica or milonga to do a tanda. I can relate to sitting there (even as a leader) where no one is friendly and no one reaches out. Too many cliques form too easily for the usual reasons and people don't reach out to newbies (unless they are young, beautiful and/or demonstrate good technique).

    * Respect - there are several older followers (60+), some with medical conditions, etc. who love to dance. Sure, from a skills point of view, I'd not naturally choose such a person, but, you know, I give them credit for being out there, enjoying life and seeking to improve. Again, if they have some skills that don't threaten my health, I am happy to do a tanda with them and show some love and respect. Someday, I'll be old too!

    * Newbies - already mentioned, but one test of my ability to lead is to lead someone with less skill. It's a fascinating experiment. For example, there are some followers who are completely at home in their bodies or have a background in dance and know posture, axis etc. It's easy and fun to help a newbie along by showing them a good dance and how a good leader can use their natural ability to dance for enjoyment. It's interesting (from my leader point of view) to see how much lead, how strong and the timing necessary to communicate.

    * Oh yes...then there are the social dynamics. For example, I will sometimes dance with the wife/girlfriend of someone in hopes of some reciprocation that husband/boyfriend will dance with my wife (this is when my wife wants to be asked by husband/boyfriend). I'm not exactly sure if this really works, but I think it does.

    * Possible friendship - part of the experience for me is to meet new people and develop friendships. This plays a factor in who I choose. If I've determined that there may be some element of mutual interest in our brief conversations, I might come back for another tanda to continue to develop the knowing of a person.

    Lois Donnay and snapdancer like this.
  10. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    I don't consider myself the best dancer in the community but I have quite skill and experience.
    And I want to dance with a woman, not the best dancer.

    And some not so good followers burst with female energy.
    I can feel how she communicates while dancing with me.
    Outer technique can be very misleading, perfect technique no personal energy.
  11. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    There is usually zero person whom I want to ask. But ok, let's suppose there are two available followers with similar features except one. Everything else being equal, I will ask
    - the one whose heigth on heels is closest to my heigth
    - the prettiest
    - the youngest.
    - the one whose dance style suits the music best
    - the one with whom I've danced least. The tourist, the newcomer.
    - the one who is not my teacher. Happened once, my teacher was hosting the milonga, a visiting teacher came too, I asked, she declined.
  12. Being fairly new to this sport (1 year+), I tend to ask only those women who will probably not spring on me some show-off stuff that I haven't learned yet and don't know the corresponding male movements to.
  13. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I generally only ask my friends who I know are pretty easy to lead and are fun to dance with. But I've only been socially leading a couple years.
  14. tangobro

    tangobro Active Member

    Not so for me. My reasons are still pretty much the same as those outlined in an older post:

    What are the 5 top reasons that make a man ask a woman to dance? Beauty comes first?

    my response to that OP:

    Paula M said:
    ... In my opinion, it is not the mastery in dancing that comes as the first reason when a man invites a woman to dance. Rather than that, beauty/or a very short mini-skirt is the key point...

    Not true for me. How "good" she is only means how "good' she is at dancing with me, so if she looks like she has the basic skills she is good enough for me to invite. The more command of those basic skills that she has, the more likely I will be to seek her out.

    I don't hide in the bathroom, but have some other avoidance tactics.

    Except for the part about being where guys are coming off the floor I agree, and this brings up some of the intangibles that I included as point 3 in the previous post. There are a cluster of intangibles that will lead me to look to a woman I have never seen dance - among them including that she is facing the dance floor, seems to be enjoying herself, her shoes seem appropriate, she seems relaxed & confident all of which help to exude an air of being a milonguera. To add a little to points 1 & 2 of the previous post, there are some women that I like to invite because they obviously enjoy dancing with me and express it. I also prefer a partner who seems committed to the dance with her partner.
  15. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Like Tangobro already said, reviewing the prior thread on this topic is a good idea, and I still find that the answer I gave there still applies.


  16. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    In addition to what I posted previously, here are a few additional thought and details.

    I might be different from a lot of leaders, as I normally like to wait until the music has started, before deciding who to ask, (it seems a lot of people line up their next tanda during the cortina).

    I look for different things, depending on what is being played, and the more I like a given song, the more desirable some attributes might be, (although it also gets weighted against how desperate I am to dance the song).

    There are people I'm friendly with, which would make it more likely I'd ask them to dance, and I also like to find a few people that I've never danced with, or haven't in a long time (for whatever reason).

    However, the main skills/attributes that would make a follower someone I would want to dance with are as follows, (and in order of priority (although 1 & 2 are fairly close in priority)).

    1) The embrace. I'm primarily a close embrace dancer. If our heights align, head contact adds a lot to the experience. Another important attribute (and it's difficult to describe), is when the follower can find the "sweet spot" on giving me some pressure against my chest, and still being able to make the steps.

    2) Stepping on the beat. This one is simple enough, although it does include the "quick beat", and not just the slow beat.

    3) Ability to follow. This one is more involved, but basically it's about her ability to gauge and execute the distance, direction, and speed of whatever it is I'm leading (whether it's a step or a pivot), without disrupting the embrace. It also includes allowing me to slightly change the embrace if I need to.

    4) Knowledge of various moves, and the awareness of different possibilities/philosophies for how they can be done (or at least knowledgable of the possibilities that I'm likely to lead).

    Also, some things important to specific types of songs (as space permitting, I might dance very differently to different types of songs). Of course, many songs will have more than one of these attributes.
    • For a rhythmic or lively song, being good at quick steps is more important.
    • For a "connection" song, (basically about the embrace), and these are my favorite tangos, having a good embrace is even more important. Basically, for these type of songs, if the follower has a really good embrace and can step on the beat, I'm pretty happy.
    • For either a lyrical song or for a more dynamic song, I'd say that the ability to follow becomes more important. More likely than not, someone more experienced.
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  17. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    I love followers who are able to create a flow, who also can let the control go but still move organized and who goes nearly insane by a well composed tanda of a good dj. I appreciate followers who are a little bit adventurous and can enjoy movements which are not fully polished and who can fill in something of their own, who can emphasize movements in a way which make us both happy. We are laughing a lot together.

    During a dance evening I usually dance several tandas with my training partners. Then longtime friends and visitors especially from Asia. If I see that someone new is working seriously with her dancing I try to find an occasion to dance with her. Very often I do not have controll of the situation - the song is good and she was at cabeceo distance and answered. I need to act fast because good followers are not available for long time.

    When I need to check the dance I look how she moves her feet, is there signs of personal musicality. Most important is though how dearly focused she seems to be during a tanda.

    On other hand I actively block followers who are elbowing or too obviously chating themselves to dances.
  18. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    How does her makeup affect her ability to look good dancing? Given how most people hold their heads these days in Tango, hardly anyone can see her face anyway.

    Now if you said you didn't like getting her makeup all over your face or shirt, I'd accept that. If you said her HAIR looked like it would be a problem all in your face, etc, I'd buy that as a reason.

    But not dancing with someone because you just don't like her make-up regardless of her dancing? That seems pretty lame to me.

    (hope you make allowances for Halloween!)
  19. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I never ask leaders (male or female). I know too many of them that accept ONLY because they can't figure out how to say no. I don't want anyone dancing with me because s/he feels unable to NOT dance with me.

    It's true that sometimes men DO choose based on youth and beauty. All other things being equal, men will choose a young, beautiful (and usually thinner) partner over an equally skilled older, less attractive, plumper one. If a woman fits the latter description more-so than the former, she needs to improve her dancing so that her dancing gets her partners.

    Which frankly, is why I want to be chosen anyway. Just as I don't want to get a dance only because the leader couldn't get out of it, I also don't want to get a dance in spite of my dancing just because the leader is physically attracted to me.

    Even being a fabulous dancer won't always help though. I know older followers who dance beautifully and have impeccable technique who spend more time sitting than their dancing warrants (and it isn't because they are turning people down or are unpleasant in any way) while the "pretty young things" dance all night. Sometimes it's based on looks, and sometimes leaders actually choose younger, less skilled followers because they can "teach" and correct those followers without getting shot down.

    As to intimidating leaders. IME, many leaders have large enough egos that they rarely think that they aren't good enough for any follower they want except as total beginners. In smaller communities (maybe really large ones too) the women so outnumber men, that as soon as a guy gets past the very early beginner stage, at least 1/2 the followers will start making a fuss over him and acting eternally grateful he showed her any attention at all.

    If this all sounds sort of "male-bashing", it's not really that. It's a natural outcome of the nature of a huge gender imbalance, and the fact that (initially as beginners at least) followers usually progress faster than leaders. The women play a significant part in how the men's attitudes develop. It would help if teachers talked about both men's and women's attitudes towards the dance and each other.
    Mladenac and oldtangoguy like this.
  20. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I hope you watch more than one tanda when it comes to follower's leaning. I will lean on a partner who likes weight sharing and not lean on one who dances without it. Followers learn pretty early on that they have to adapt to the leader's preference, and judging a follower on the style being danced by the couple is ridiculously unfair. Also, based on how a follower holds her upper body, there may be an illusion of lean that isn't actually a lean at all.

    I also don't know what you mean by waiting for your heel strike to transfer your weight. I don't transfer weight based on the leader's feet; I transfer when led to transfer by the movement of his body. I don't care what his feet are doing unless they step on me or get in the way of me following what was led. I'm certainly not going to look down at them! You can strike your heel all you want, but if you haven't led a weight transfer, I'm not doing one. If you led it too soon (before your heel strike) that's on you. If you time your heel strike with the proper lead in your body, I'll transfer on your heel strike, but I'm still not doing it because of your heel strike.

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