Beginner's Hell thinking of quitting Tango

15 hours a week is a lot for someone that works full time... more power to you though if you can actually pull that off.

As for the beginners hell, it's more like purgatory for any partnered dance. It's especially long for the lead/men because you not only have to learn your steps, but how to communicate which steps you want her to do. Eventually it will click... for some guys it takes just a few short months, others as long as a year. But with 15 hours a week you should be on the shorter end of that timeline.

Her own discouraging responses though just could be from your own attitude. She knows you're getting frustrated by it and it definitely will affect her too. If you only know simple steps... just do them and enjoy them. There's nothing wrong with it.
Good idea that maybe my wife is a mirror for my emotions. I didn't think that worrying about her happiness maybe is not as good as just being as happy as can be myself and that could make her happpy thanks.
Haha my first posts here were along those lines and a "Beginner corner" subforum was even created just for me for a while. Short story of what happened to me and my female partner. We started tango at the same time.

Year one: She dances every night in all the best milongas of the town, gets invited by the teachers. I struggle in beginners' classes, I take as many classes as I possibly can, with different teachers, hoping I will learn quicker. Usually I am the one guy too much, the other leaders dislike me bc I borrow their follower. "It's you again? Why do you keep coming?" is something I hear a lot. Once in a month, my partner tells me to go to the milonga and she dances with me to check my improvement. One dance, not even one tanda.

Year two: same as year one. When I sit next to her in milongas she asks me to move away.

Year three: She agrees to sign up for an intermediate class, with me as her partner. We also go together to a weekly practica.In milongas she's not seen as fresh blood any more, gets invited much less, has plateau-ed in terms of technique.

Year four: I tell her that I will dance with a more qualified follower than her.
Why call this lady a partner????
Four years yep I am a newbie and sounds like more years will help
Work on your Tango at your own pace.
Dance with ladies who are happy about dancing with you.
Give your wife some space, allow her to be happy dancing with others. Don't take that as a personal insult. The most important thing is your marriage, not your dancing partnership. You are not a couple of tango pros, are you.
Don't forget to regularly do together with your spouse something you both equally enjoy and feel comfortable with. ;)
She does dance with other men about half the night milonga. Many more women than men if I didn't dance with her she would sit about half the night are you saying I should let her sit while I dance with other ladies?
You are to aggressive with your learning. And while not dancing watch dance of advanced partners.
And enjoy the venue and music
your DW is impolite, but it happens.
Good news is she can keep no secrets on her face she would be bad at poker. Bad news is she can keep no secrets on her face! I do like the music and my Tango friends. Good idea to learn from the old dancers
You are not competing again anyone.
Learn tango at your own pace, listen to the music, enjoy the lyrics and slowly study the orchestras.

And then let it go with other women.
What I find with your woman is really rude behaviour because she is not supportive.
Good idea I feel like I am hurrying competing against the old experienced guys but it takes time to be old and experienced
Learn more about the music. You will enjoy the dance more if you enjoy the music and you will be able to create a better experience for the partner you're dancing with. You can start here:

I do find it strange for a wife to frown while being embraced by her husband...
Good link thank you
Wife does thank me and say good things and compliments so not all bad
didn't want to say she is a bad person she is a good person and good wife
Just want to be the Tango smile maker for her
She compares him to the men with dozens of years of experience, which is totally not fair. I always feel sad when couples argue and blame their significant others in classes. While in fact their partner is genuinely trying and making good progress... :(
Oh well, I guess we all at one point or another need to learn how to be grateful and value others, especially significant ones, more...
Classes are good and not arguing
Wife does compliment my progress but looks bored
So, as Maggie pointed out, it takes longer to learn the basics of leading than it does for following. So the fact that your spouse is learning faster at this stage is not surprising or unique. I have to say that her response to the situation is not very sporting, but maybe there's more to it. Here's what you need to do:

* Take one lesson a week on your own. And by "on your own", that means your spouse is not at the studio and is not watching. Do this not because you are trying to "catch up", but because you need some instruction that is focused solely on you and your understanding the lead role. You need to gain some confidence with the role, and to do that you need some time where you aren't worrying what your partner thinks about it.

* Dance with your spouse at milognas, but for the moment don't worry about what she thinks of your dancing, as long as she's willing to dance with you. Spend some of your time trying to get dances with other follows at different experience levels. Try to get far enough along so that at least one or two of the advanced follows will dance with you now and then, but don't focus exclusively on them.

* Spend a bit of time watching those advanced leads at milognas. Pick out one or two things that you know are areas where you need improvement, and watch how the advanced leads do it.

As newbie points out, follows hit the wall later, usually after a couple of years, and it happens at a time when leads of the same experience level are improving rapidly.
Thanks wife is willing to dance with me, I did not think a wife would be so bad to not dance with her husband that would be a bad! I do get lots of dances with other follows
I had not really thought about it but wife has done so much Tango she might have hit the wall all ready now that I think about it she has not improved much lately
I am very cautious when dancing with my husband. I have much more passion & drive to dance. I want to have great technique, he doesn't really seem to care about that part as long as he knows the steps & what cues to get the follow to follow. If I try to be helpful, in any way, he takes it the wrong way & just stops altogether. The only way we can get through a dance is if I keep my mouth shut completely. So that's what I do. Instand in the proper area, with proper frame, emotionless, like a mannequin. I am sad about it, but I don't know what to do about it. A couple of times, I have asked our instructor, in private, if we can work on something specific that my husband was stuck on & it all gets worked out, but if I suggest something, he won't even try. I am also learning the lead's parts because I go a lot more often than he does, so I have an idea of what's involved in that role as well. Sometimes 2 people just shouldn't be partners in dance.
Maybe this is the same as me and my wife? Be sure you smile and thank him alot.
You solved it all.
Your wife is not a real good follower. Not even close.
Otherwise she would know that it takes, by the construction of the dance, much much much less time for the woman to be ready to go to the milonga. The world-wide known and respected teacher Homer Ladas claims he can turn any beginner into a ready-for-milonga follower in half an hour. Even if you were taking twice the number of classes that your wife takes, she would still be far ahead from you. Next time she gives you the bored look, tell her to stop it, and to go to an advanced follower who will teach her one thing or two about the learning curves.
You're also right on another point, yes after some time the women are overtaken by the guys. There will come a time when you'll feel that you're giving her a charity dance when dancing with her.

And finally there is a say
"Dancing tango with one's husband is like reading yesterday's newspaper"
This transgression thing, yunno.
However skilled you may be as a leader, she will always find the other leaders more interesting.
I think she brain knows it but feels bored and looks bored.
Good idea about being old news and less interesting I did not think that but I can see that. Maybe I should do just walking until the last Tanda and they go full Tangomanic the last song of the night. Ha ha funny frown means start walking still frowning means getting off beat ha ha.
Probably right: leave her to it, and go your own way. We each have our own tango (unless we are class junkies and just dream of dancing like a clone of our 'heroes') - find yours, and dance it with people who don't frown or look bored.
Several messages maybe I am dancing too many tandas with her good idea
Most ladies even the good ones smile and look that they like my dances
The "being helpful" can be something that I'll ask him to try, so I can "get" his lead. I am also very mindful on how I phrase things just so not to irritate him, but it doesn't work. I might ask him if he can give me his hand lead a half a step earlier cos the way we do it, I get "off" or behind a bit by the time I realize what he's asking of me & I think it'll fix my part. He'll get mad at me, do it his way several more times, til he's gotten over being that mad, then he'll do whatever I suggested (without telling me ahead of time) & it'll work for us. Just very frustrating for me & honestly, I'd rather be treated with more respect when we dance. Then he'll see me dance with the pros & that I'm getting whatever it is we were having problems with & he has actually accused me of purposely not following his lead Like I go out of my way to not dance properly with him. I explained to him that you can't expect 2 people that are new to ballroom dancing to dance as well together as 1 experienced instructor with 1 new person. They can make most people look pretty darn good! I find that if I dance with any emotion when I dance with my husband, I'm likely to cry, so I stay as emotionless as I can.
I think the first thing you have to think about is if you actually like to dance tango - i read your post and there is nothing about how you feel when dancing, if you enjoy dancing with your wife, if you enjoy dancing with other followers. If not i don't think this is a bad thing - most people don't share all their hobbies with their partners.

Second i think you and your wife should avoid seeing each other as "backup". Reading the OP it sounds like you are organizing your evenings around making sure that she is not sitting down. I think it is natural that if you only dance with with each other as the last option to avoid sitting out a tanda you will be somewhat resentful towards each other. Make dancing with each other a positive, active choice, not a negative one.

Third - and this will require very careful negotiation if it is true - you just might not enjoy dancing with each other. What makes for good real life partnerships are not the same things that make for good dance partners. People enjoy different aspects of this hobby - athleticism, performance, music, community, cosplay, and so on, and they might just not match. That it ok, and we should embrace this more, but it is difficult when we feel that whatever the other people do is the "wrong" tango. For me this is one of the hardest things to work on for myself - accepting that others tango, even if it is not all that compatible with "my" tango, is also the "true" tango.

In general i don't think that leaders eventually get better at tango than followers, i think their learning curve is different (somewhat like the salsa graph above). Leaders have to spend the first two or so years not only on learning technique, but they also have to discover their own dance during this time. During this time followers (mostly) just enjoy the leaders dance, and how their technique makes that possible.
Later leaders can just incrementally hone and improve what they are doing, and they are ok. For followers you get a big hurdle at the years 3-5, when their technique and movement skills are in place, and they have to discover their dance. There is much less support for them than for leaders, and it often ends up being extremely frustrating, and a lot of followers drop out or start feeling that following is pointless at that time. I don't know if it is much of a comfort, but i can almost guarantee that your wife will become unhappy with tango in a few years. There is a "dance hell" for everybody, it just comes at different times. I think the followers "advanced dancer hell" is much worse than the leaders "beginner hell".
Yes I like Tango
Good idea I never had the idea that keeping her from sitting maybe makes her less happy. I assumed she would rather dance with me than sit but maybe I should read the face!
First year it was good. She still says good things but looks bored. I wondered if she might burn out on Tango that could be a good talk to have.
I would think that if you take a class and practice with her once a week, she'd have plenty of time to bring up any problems she had with your dance. Next time you're in a position to give each other feedback, bring it up. "I noticed last time we danced at the milonga, you seemed distracted. Is there anything wrong?"

It's possible that since she's gone "tango crazy" and is really throwing herself into it, she's getting good very quickly. She knows you're doing the best you can so she doesn't bring it up, but isn't good at hiding her frustration during while dancing. In either case, the solution is the same: ask her about it next chance you get.

One thing NOT to do is ask her to dance less because you can't dance as much. That will just cause resentment.
I have asked her many times to not look around but she still does but I found a trick I stop dancing when she looks around and then she quits looking around. It is not fast looks but long stares and then we have mistakes.
The only time I suggested she dance less was when she complained two very experienced leaders did the same dance every time I said if that she was getting bored all ready with leaders that good maybe do less Tango that she was burning out.


Well-Known Member
She will get annoyed because you want to please her too much. Are you a puppy or a husband?

Leave the woman alone and focus on yourself.
Go to dancing so you please yourself first and she if enjoys is ok but if not is also ok.

I hope you are not behaving like that in other things.

Mr 4 styles

Well-Known Member
Grateful.... Learning to dance with your spouse is brutal for the lady. My wife will tell you. I was similar to your husband at first. Hard to admit but once I took private lessons with a female pro she corrected the issues and my attitude. I thank my wife for soldiering through this. Now we dance in harmony and it shows in practice comps show dances and comp results


Well-Known Member
She does dance with other men about half the night milonga. Many more women than men if I didn't dance with her she would sit about half the night are you saying I should let her sit while I dance with other ladies?
You cannot make her happy, it's her job. ;)
When she starts to behave normally invite her more often. :)

Are you obsessed with her, or what?

Just let her "enjoy" her behaviour.


Active Member
The "being helpful" can be something that I'll ask him to try, so I can "get" his lead. I am also very mindful on how I phrase things just so not to irritate him, but it doesn't work. I might ask him if he can give me his hand lead a half a step earlier cos the way we do it, I get "off" or behind a bit by the time I realize what he's asking of me & I think it'll fix my part. He'll get mad at me, do it his way several more times, til he's gotten over being that mad, then he'll do whatever I suggested (without telling me ahead of time) & it'll work for us. Just very frustrating for me & honestly,
There is a big difference between telling someone how to do their job and asking them to fix a problem. In the former, you tell them how to fix the problem ("take my hand sooner"). In the latter, you tell them what the problem is and let them figure out the solution ("every time we try to do X, I feel like I don't have enough time - like it's already happened before I even know it started. Can you help me to know that it's coming sooner?")

It's natural to want to give him the solution, but that's not your job as the follower. Your job is to follow, and to let him know what you feel (not what he did) that makes it harder/easier to follow. It's his job to provide a lead, to figure out what's wrong with his lead, and to adjust his lead to be more correct.

Just like it would be wrong of him to tell you that you are following wrong ("stop thinking", "stop backleading", etc, when the reality of what's going on on your body may be completely different).

Dance Ads