How long will you sit until you consider dancing with a stranger?

tangomaniac

Active Member
#1
Since my regular milonga closed , I've been looking for a new milonga to regularly attend. I found one that looks promising. I danced a satisfactory amount the first two weeks but not much last Sunday, presumably because of the holidays. (It seems a lot of dancers passed over the milonga.)

I notice several women who danced a lot the first two weeks but not last Sunday because of fewer dancers. They looked very unhappy waiting for an invitation from somebody on their even smaller "A" list. The DJ explained that some women will dance only from their preferred list no matter how long the wait. It's impossible get on their "A" list.

Everybody has their "A" list but some are willing to expand the possibilities instead of waiting interminably. (If only milongas had countdown clocks like the New York subway so dancers would know when their next partner is arriving. Maybe one day there will be an app like the one for the subway.)

So, how long are YOU willing to wait for someone on your "A" list before you will consider dancing with somebody new?
 
#2
Your topic description is different from the post. Your post is about waiting to dance with preferred partners while your title is about how long before you dance with a stranger. A stranger would imply someone you haven’t seen before and are not familiar with. That is different from non-preferred dancers that you may not dance with at all or often, but are familiar with because you see them at different milongas.

In Tango, most won’t ask a new unfamiliar face or a stranger. That has been my experience. I travel a lot. I try to go to local milongas when I travel.

At my local milongas, if I see a stranger, I will always try to ask. Try to make them feel welcomed and introduce to my Tango friends for they happen to be around. Some local milongas in my hometown are notoriously snobby and I have known dancers who feel intimidated to go to them. I think my hometown is least friendly collection of Tango dancers of all places I have been to.

Besides Tango, I do dance a few other social dances. Overall Tango is most elitist and close minded when it comes to who ask who. Despite the elitism which is evident, the most important factor that determines number of dances or invitations, is who you know. I see a lot of dancers dancing with other dancers they know, than with a better dancer whom they don’t know. Walking into milonga as a stranger is almost like waking into hostile territory :)

When I am visiting different city, I will usually spend first 30 minutes observing the dynamics. At bigger milongas in the larger cities, it is very easy to ask. There is always someone close enough to make effortless eye contact for Cabaceo. The smaller milongas (less than 30 people) can be challenging. Other challenge is those milongas where people come as a couple and seat as a couple. Being a stranger you aren’t sure if they are open to dance with you. You have to wait and learn.

Then there are those that I call elite but cliquey dancers. These are amongst the best dancers at any milongas but they will only dance with two or three other dancers while all night, often dancing multiple (3 or more) tandas. As a stranger you don’t know if they don’t dance with others or others don’t bother asking them. Then there are those who are elite but not cliquey. Since they dance with more wider set of other dancers they are often busy. The challenge is to be able to ask them at right time ( before someone else does and they aren’t sitting out the tanda).

Some venues due to seating arrangements and the dim light makes it more challenging for a visiting stranger. Whether the venue follows cabaceo or not is another challenge. I find that a mix bag.
 
#3
The DJ explained that some women will dance only from their preferred list no matter how long the wait. It's impossible get on their "A" list.

So, how long are YOU willing to wait for someone on your "A" list before you will consider dancing with somebody new?
It makes me less likely to ask the dancers who keep their preferences narrow. That includes dancers who like dancing with me. Or may be it is self selecting. Most people I like dancing with don’t have narrow preferences. There are dancers I have stopped asking because of their preference to dance with narrower set of dancers, some of whom are bad dancers. I think they are rewarding mediocrity.
 

tangomaniac

Active Member
#4
Your topic description is different from the post. Your post is about waiting to dance with preferred partners while your title is about how long before you dance with a stranger. A stranger would imply someone you haven’t seen before and are not familiar with. That is different from non-preferred dancers that you may not dance with at all or often, but are familiar with because you see them at different milongas.
My topic description and post are consistent. My definition of stranger is somebody you've never danced with, regardless if you've seen them before. You don't know someone just because you've seen them more than once.
 

Gssh

Well-Known Member
#6
Depends on the tanda - some sets i prefer to not dance if nobody from a pretty short list is looking for me, others i prefer not to dance at all, but most of the time if a stranger cabeceos me i am more than happy to catch their eye (especially with valses - if i am unsure about how well somebody dances valses seem to be the best choice for me - the structure is so obvious that almost everybody gets at least the basic phrasing)
 

dchester

Moderator
Staff member
#7
For me, typically somewhere between 30 seconds to a minute, although like Gssh said, some tandas I do view differently.
 

LadyLeader

Active Member
#9
It seems that loyalty to my dance partners and my promises belongs to my core values. Therefore I start a milonga with my training partners and old time friends. If there is time left i dance with strangers.
I am wondering if this loyalty type of value could be in the background for the difficulties strangers have in western milongas?
The total opposite was a festival in Seoul where the leaders are known to take care of stranger followers. I do not know if it is curiosity or generous host attitude but followers in Asia are traveling to Seoul for a good weekend.
 

LadyLeader

Active Member
#12
If you trying grow and build a large and welcoming dance community and attract dedicated enthusiasts to your hobby of choice welcoming and including new comers is the most effective method.
This sounds to me more like an organizer strategy. What could the personal reasons be for an ordinary danser?
 

atk

Active Member
#13
This sounds to me more like an organizer strategy. What could the personal reasons be for an ordinary danser?
As a non-organizer who shares that strategy and reasons, i think the original comment already have the reasons/goals :)

grow and build a large and welcoming dance community and attract dedicated enthusiasts to your hobby of choice
Additional goals include:

* Having more partners to enjoy dancing with
* Enjoying the enjoyment of beer dancers
* Encouraging the development of new dancers so that they will feel even better to dance with[/quote][/Quote]
 

Gssh

Well-Known Member
#14
I have to admit that i am more selfish there - for me one of the main draws of tango is adapting to the unknown and surprising - i like packed dancefloors, live bands, and followers i have never danced with. It is a challenge to my sensitivity and ability to adapt. In the same vein i tend to enjoy dancing with both beginners and advanced followers who shape the dance more, while intermediate and even advance dancers who don't share anything are not as exciting.
I feel one of the drawbacks of leading is that in the end i often only dance my tango, and i am looking for dances where i can find a "our" tango. (this is why i am often somewhat disappointed when talented beginners with their own musicality work so hard to become invisible and featureless advanced followers - i know that this is just a stage before they assert and find their own dance again, but i find it not satisfying to dance with them during that period - it is too much like dancing by myself)
 
#15
Here is a personal reason: Asking that stranger could lead to your getting more of your "A list" dances.

Suppose an event has 10 followers and 10 leaders, and one is a follower stranger. No one asks her, so she sits out all night. You now have 10 leaders asking 9 followers to dance, and you miss being able to dance with your "A list" people possibly multiple times. Forget "A list" for a moment, statistically you'll miss two tandas, and with the statistics of small numbers, maybe more.

Oh, but it gets worse. Scared off by her bad experience, the stranger never returns, leading to a long time deficit of followers! You could potentially miss tens of Tandas and tens of "A list" dances.

Here is the alternative scenario: There is a tanda where you don't see any free "A list" people, or even no one else to ask. You ask the stranger. This breaks the ice, and she continues to get steadily asked the rest of the night. This now means leader-follower parity, so you don't have to sit out any tandas. This also ties up a "competing" leader, making it more likely one of your "A list" dancers is free to ask.

I have personally seen this several times. A new lady shows up, and no one asks her, even to the point of half the night has gone by. Several people have danced 2 tandas or more with the same partner rather than ask someone new. Finally yours truly asks, and people see that someone with the audacity to go to a Milonga where they know nobody is actually pretty good. This person winds up dancing steadily the rest of the night.

Yet another benefit: In addition to this person being more likely to return, she is more likely to praise your community for being friendly and to recommend others go.

For the record I'm not claiming great and consistent virtue; for example in my earlier days I once kept asking only my DW when there were 2 leaders and 8 followers! Hopefully my later actions are helping make up for some of my earlier ones.
If you trying grow and build a large and welcoming dance community and attract dedicated enthusiasts to your hobby of choice welcoming and including new comers is the most effective method.
LadyLeader said:
This sounds to me more like an organizer strategy. What could the personal reasons be for an ordinary danser?
 

LadyLeader

Active Member
#16
I think there are not one that small event here, with guests 2x10. Instead most of my behavior has formed in situations where a Wednesday practica had 100-120 visitors and the community around 800 members. There was around 150-200 new members per year and about the same number was quitting for other activities. This was around 2005 and today we have a lot more organizers but still the smallest milonga I visit has 15-20 followers. The regular Friday outdoor milonga during May-September has several hundred visitors.

The number of tandas is a stone hard limiter of how many followers I am able to invite. A DJ friend told that on a milonga of 4 hours he plays 16 tangos, 3 milongas and 3 valses. With other words maximum 22 invitations in 4 hours. My usual dancing limit is 3 hours with maybe 2-3 skipped tandas and I land on 13-15 invitations.

The small 3hour milongas with less than 15 followers are so relaxed because i am able to offer a dance to all followers. If someone doesn't want it is ok and I can invite someone for second tanda or take an extra break.

In all other situations I need to managed the invitations in some way. This is a short list of my priorities in my mind today: Learning partners, real life friendships, joyful challenges, dances with shared laughs, visitors from Asia. I would say that a joyful laugh is often more important than the skill and a combination of these two is just marvelous!

When there is a tanda with no demands on the outcome is actually not so much about the followers. It is much more about how tired I am and what the DJ is doing. There are three DJ who have put me in such a fierce mood that I could have gone out to grab someone from the street for that tanda! The waiting time is 0 here. In other situations it is longer.
 
#17
If I don't like the music the DJ is playing, I'll end up staying seated all night, no matter how many strangers, superstars or favourites are present! :rolleyes:

My thought process typically goes:

(1) Is the next tanda a tango, vals or milonga?
(2) Do I recognise the first song of the tanda?
(3) How much do I like this song?
(4) How well do I 'trust' the DJ in the way they're likely to construct this tanda?
(5) Which of my favourite dancers (for this tanda depending on T/V/M and orchestra) is available?
(6) Have I already danced with them this evening?
(7) If we have already danced together AND they are looking towards me for this tanda, great, let's go!
(8) If we have already danced together AND they are not looking towards me for this tanda, how strong is my motivation to dance to this tanda and how confident am I feeling in trying somebody I haven't danced with before? (I realise at this point that it makes no difference to me if they are a stranger to the milonga or not)
(9) If I have identified a potential partner with whom I have never danced, for this tanda, have I seen/watched her dance before? With whom does she regularly dance? I will also ask my buddy if he has danced with her before and for his impression of their tanda together.
(10) If I haven't seen/watched this follower dance before and my buddy has no information; if my motivation to dance to this tanda is strong and I feel confident in trying someone new (to me), What is she wearing? How revealing is her dress? How short is her skirt?

I know exactly how judgemental Q10 appears, however, it's important to me that others don't assume I just wanted to dance with the pretty girl in the skimpy outfit :oops: We have too many of the 'usual suspects', leaders both great and really not quite so great, who will home in on any new face if she is pretty enough.

This entire convoluted process or one very close to it, takes only nanoseconds to complete. It takes place every single time before I even think about attempting to exchange a cabeceo. Understandably, my highly conservative approach means I don't dance as much at a milonga as most! :D

In direct response to the OP's question, I might not dance with a stranger(s) the entire night or I may attempt to invite her to dance immediately I notice her. It all depends on the music! :dancingbanana:
 
#18
If you are an experienced leader i agree with all the people that say to ask everyone especially a stranger (and even more so in a case of gender imbalance), the "a-list thing" is kinda restrictive, in my opinion dancing with the same followers all night is acceptable only for beginner leaders that don't fell safe and confident enough to dance with every partner...
 
#19
I'm going to the Chicago Tango Festival this weekend. Except for the locals, I expect 95% of the attendees to be strangers to other participants. It will be interesting if I see the same results. (I hope not!)
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#20
A lot of leaders weighing in here, which is unsurprising given that so many events seem to have more followers. Therefore "asking" seems to become the purview of leaders. (and also because the forum seems to mostly consist of leaders these days)

As a follower, I guess the question is about accepting dances or at least trying to mirada a leader (which is a difficult when there are so many extra followers either outright asking them or jumping into my sight lines to "cabeceo-hijack"). IME, at most regional events around here, leaders aren't looking for or noticing mirada.. they are looking at or approaching their preferred partners and ignoring anyone not on that list. Getting on the preferred list is a challenge at milongas that I only attend sporadically.

As someone who is more easily injured than I used to be, I am far more cautious about dancing with unknown leaders, but also with leaders who ARE known to me that I can see won't be physically comfortable for me to dance with. By "unknown, I mean strangers. Unlike tangomaniac, I feel that if I have seen a leader dancing with multiple partners, especially in my own community, I have a sense even without dancing with him, of whether I will enjoy dancing with him. i don't consider that person a stranger.

If I haven't seen someone dancing, then I try to wait until I do. That's also awkward sometimes, because both the leaders that no one else wants to dance with will approach a new person and so will the friendly skilled dancers who want to reach out. Typically however, IME, the leaders most likely to ask me soon after I arrive in a new place where no one knows me are the ones who know that they will be rejected by their fellow locals. I also know that in order to be asked in an unfamiliar crowd, I have to be seen dancing. If I dance with a poor leader, I will be seen dancing BADLY. On the other hand, if I wait for a better leader, I might not be seen at all. It's all very annoying.

I don't go by what other followers say about leaders, because we don't all look for the same things in a partner. I have a friend who raves about some leaders that I find awkward to follow, and she is "meh" about some of my favorites. However, I'm not looking for skill level, but the style of posture and connection. I will dance with a total beginner before I'll dance with some intermediate dancers. Beginners rarely hurt me. "Intermediate" level leaders can be hazardous.

It used to be that in my own community (where being seen dancing badly with a poor leader wouldn't affect my chances of getting dances from other leaders) I would always rty to be friendly and dance with newcomers, beginners, and strangers dropping in as guests. Now I just can't take the risk until I have an idea of how they will move. When I am the stranger, I have less control over my opportunities to dance and might have to take a chance in the beginning and hope for the best.

The stupid part of the whole "you have to be seen before better leaders will ask you when no one knows you" BS, is that the better leaders never seem to be WATCHING. They are out there dancing every tanda. They don't see or not see me... they already have a full dance card. If I wait for one of them, I'll probably sit all night and never dance at all.
 

Dance Ads

Top