Not touchy feely


Well-Known Member
It is not unusual for there to be a decision made to pair a more experienced follow with a less experienced lead...and to keep that pairing for the most of the class (more experienced follow is likely taking classes below her actual level and is fine with evidenced by the hug at the end of the evening).

Short version of what could be a long response: likely everything running through your head resulted in your body being too stiff to get what they were trying to get you to feel. And if you are anything like me, your brain shut down in alarm part way through the class. :D We have somewhat different issues, but I can really relate to "I do not understand what they are trying to teach to me AT ALL."
What she said. I suspect you were doing better than you thought, but the anxiety kept you from feeling and trusting the connection. I think it's great you stuck it out despite your frustration. The lady you were finally paired with was there to help, and it sounds like she was happy to do so. Don't beat yourself up about it. You tried, didn't run away, and probably learned something even if you can't access it right now. The slower approach probably is better for you, but I think it's OK to stretch every once in a while like this. I think this account shows progress!
Thanks twnklotz and risenfall for the encouragement. I realize it's not all loss. My first day skiing I fell a bunch of times. My first try at a black diamond run I fell many times, too. Yes, it was cold, wet, and miserable in the short term, but today I'm glad I did it. I figure I'll keep doing the fun stuff I have been doing and not overly worry about the future.

BTW we did some "90 degree V embrace" in class recently for a particular figure. The move definitely needs work but I weathered it OK!
More Unintended Consequences and Tango Distance Dances with his Instructor

Being a numbers kind of guy, I thought I could gradually increase the number of females I would dance with at a Milonga. Unintended consequence: This plan can be at odds with dancing with classes of people, like beginners and classmates. At the last milonga at my studio I arranged to do the first and last 3 tandas of the night with DW, planned to do one song late in the evening with my instructor (hoping to remember it this time), and dance with newbies and classmates.

After the 3 tandas with DW, I asked my instructor to point out any newbies from the beginners class. The newbies thing works for me on multiple levels: It's a mission of sorts to encourage the newbs. As I'm dancing simpler, more basic steps it takes less intense concentration, so it is easier. I'm not sure exactly why, but it is great fun to successfully lead someone through a step they never have done before, and just a fun, smiling “oops” if it doesn't go perfectly. Finally, the newbs seem to be super appreciative. Back to talking to my instructor now: She pointed out the single newbie from the beginner's class, and then pointed out ladies from my current class (“you know lady x, you know lady y, …”). She was on a roll so she said “You know your wife, of course,” and suggested one of her employees that was experienced in other dance forms but newer to Tango. My instructor has read this topic, and we have discussed it a little bit. I thought it showed a good people sense on her part that she did not say anything about dancing with her – no pressure, come to me on your schedule when you are ready.

I wound up dancing with 8 ladies that night, double the “numbers plan.” I appreciate all the good advice here on DF. For instance, it was good to understand the tanda structure and know it is OK to start a tanda late but to not end it early. I danced about half the tandas, dw had several and the rest one each. It was a nice pace that gave some time to be social and cool down all the way.

The night went more quickly than I expected. I asked my instructor. I thought I would be fine, given my run up of switching partners in practicas, other milongas, and having danced with 7 other ladies that night. OTOH, the magnitude of my failure with the dissociation dance dictated caution, so I just did the last song of a tanda.

The dance went very well, and I even did some (for me) more advanced moves. I finished with a smile on my face. My instructor seemed genuinely very happy at the success. I looked at her and said “Thank you! Now that I have conquered that I can quit switching partners.”

The reality was that statement was a dark humor joke I had intended to play on her but forgot to do.

Once home, I felt a simple happiness that lacked my usual post-milonga mental swirl. Maybe it was having slain a personal dragon; maybe I'm starting to get this Tango thing; maybe it was being more experienced; maybe it was being more social; maybe it was because things went mostly as planned; or maybe it was having spread some smiles to more people. One point I do know is it is easier for me to be among the fellow students I know, and to a lesser degree people I at least recognize, than to be at a distant milonga where almost everyone is a stranger. BTW, hats off to those who can walk into a room full of strangers and plug right in!

Unintended consequence: Usually it is DW worrying about TD getting dances (and TD says to not worry, I'm fine!). I never thought about the reverse problem where I would get more dances than she would. We'll have to work that out, maybe I'll dance with others only when she has a dance lined up or wants a rest.
That could be another unintended consequence! Even though DW dances with as many men as she can, and promotes my dancing with others, she has shown a tiny bit of jealousy (maybe 2 minutes worth total in 6 months). Seems to me she shouldn't have any worries with Mr. Not Touchy Feely here.
High on Hugs, Eye Contact, and Smiles

As I have written previously, I'm not a touchy-feely guy and would live quite happily with less hugging (DW excepted!). This is at odds with the dancing community, huggers are everywhere! I took my instructor into my confidence and really appreciate that she high-fives rather than hugs me. With another classmate I made a couple of attempts at saying I didn't like being hugged. Her response both times was to hug me hard. Lesson learned, don't discuss hugging with her! When I can't slip out before the hugging starts it is easier to suffer the hug rather than get the looks of shock, pity, and/or disbelief, or worse yet people wanting to talk about it. This means TD is now getting about 10x the hugs on an annualized basis than he did before.

Maybe I'm getting desensitized a bit, like with allergy shots (sorry huggers of the world to compare hugs to allergies!). We had some of our classmates to our unit. Not long ago I never would have thought it would happen at my place, but a room was cleared of furniture and some Tango dancing broke out. Of course, when everyone left all the ladies wanted to hug me on the way out. For some reason, maybe it was the home turf or the afterglow of a fun get together, but the hugging didn't seem to be as big a deal as usual for me. I remember thinking at the time “Maybe I am getting desensitized.”

We traveled to a big city Tango event. We intended to just do the milonga, but arrived at the tail end of the class before it. Everyone was in a tight group hug. The instructor was cooing “Isn't this wonderful?” Everyone was cooing back about how wonderful it was. I stayed as far from the group as the physics of walls would allow, and adopted the smooth, minimally noticeable walk I use when out in downtown Los Angeles after midnight. I managed to slip out a door. Whew!

The milonga had not started yet. A lady from the group hug that I know from my home town milongas walked up. I think she was high on hugs and decided to become a pusher to try to get more people addicted to hugs. I haven't figured out exactly how yet, but I'm sure in some way she is hugely and illegally profiting from hugs. She knows I'm not a hugger, but people high on hugs don't always think straight and make good decisions. I was holding a used paper plate. She grabbed it. I assumed she wanted to politely throw it away for me. We played tug-of-war for a while. Just shy of the point of the plate rending in half, I said the plate was still in use and that I wanted to keep it. Finally she relaxed her grip, pointed to a nearby horizontal surface, and asked me to put the plate there. Mr. Oblivious here had no clue as to what was about to occur, even though that group hug thing should have been a really big clue. Too quick for me to react and escape, she did a hug that would have been overkill had I saved her child from certain death and then handed her a check for the winnings of a $100M USD lottery. I stood there motionlessly, not reciprocating in any way. Being high on hugs, that didn't deter her. Minutes ticked by (DW says it was mere seconds, but it felt more like minutes!). Finally I realized playing possum wasn't working. In an effort to bring it to a gracious-for-me end, I did the most minimal return hug I could: It was an elbows-out, hands on the shoulder blades for a millisecond hug. More minutes (DW says seconds) ticked by... She was still firmly attached. In a second attempt to end the hug I tried the “two back pats” version of the most minimal hug thing. More minutes (DW still claimed just seconds) ticked by. Finally she let go. I felt embarrassed, grabbed the plate to repopulate it with some treats, and scooted out of there. In retrospect I realize I took it more calmly than normal. Usually I would be saying literally “OK that's enough” and literally squirming away if a hug goes beyond a moment. DW estimates this one lasted 20 to 30 seconds. Towards the end of the night, I did ask the high-on-hugs lady to dance with the proviso of no close embrace. She had had time to come down off her hug high and we had a nice tanda with big smiles but no hug at the end.

Being an out-of-town thing, there were many people I didn't know at this milonga. It also had chairs around the perimeter, so it was easy to see people along the line-of-dance. Almost all those seated were female. Almost all the dancing was close embrace by what looked like very experienced dancers. I felt out of my league and just danced with the few people I knew from my home town. I find it amusing that I left for an hour in the middle and DW didn't say a word, apparently she didn't even notice my absence! Something new for me (I think mostly due to the seating arrangement) was the number of smiles I got from those seated. Maybe some were incipient mirada/cabeceo, but I think it was mostly a reflection of my smile when I would pull off a fancy move with no one getting hurt.


Well-Known Member
There are currently three male instructors, two of them relatively new, at the studio I dance at and I have different hugging relationships with each of them. The contrast is amusing, and I reassured one of new ones the other day that it was absolutely fine that he was not comfortable with the teddy bear style hugs that the other one gives me. The third one, my primary instructor, almost never hugs me. I noticed that he didn't really like it, and commented on it, so he feels free to remind me of his preferences if I lose my mind and reach in to give him a hug or, god forbid, a kiss. In other words, I am happy you took the woman's hugs so well, but I really don't know what's wrong with people who cannot accept other people's comfort zones!!!!!!!!!
I am loving this thread. It is fabulous getting to follow your dance journey and see all the new insights.

I'd kinda like to know where all these tango classes are taking place, because I think they're in my geographical area, and I might like to go! Both my teachers are now independent, and in any case, at my most recent home studio the tango classes were few and far between. I'm on the lookout for good group classes.

At my first (ballroom) studio we did have a weekly Argentine tango class, and I loved it.
ocean-daughter: I'm glad you like the thread. PM sent.
RiseNFall said:
... but I really don't know what's wrong with people who cannot accept other people's comfort zones!!!!!!!!!
twnkltoz said:
Sheesh. If I hug someone and they act like they don't like it, I stop hugging them. Why do people think it's OK to hug someone who clearly doesn't like it?? Consent, anyone?
I keep reminding myself that generally huggers are doing it with the best of intentions, and feel like they are giving the best gift possible. Also, if a hug is inevitable I really do try to not radiate negative vibes that would make the other person feel bad. The tougher cases are the small number of people that want to "fix" me. Even then I think they have good intent, and I think they honestly believe if they would just squeeze me hard enough for long enough I would be "cured." That hasn't worked to date. Tango has lowered my hug aversion a bit.
I was thinking about the whole issue of introversion and dancing. I'm very much an introvert, and I also love to dance. I could dance late into the night. (I became acquainted with Argentine tango in a ballroom studio.)

One conclusion I have is that partner dance is a meaningful interaction with one person, which as an introvert I prefer to small talk with a group. Also it isn't verbal. Not that I dislike conversation, but dancing doesn't have to involve talking.

Maybe a dance party has something for all types--a roomful of people for extroverts to enjoy, conversation if they want it, and meaningful one-on-one contacts for the introverts!

Also I think Argentine tango is one of the more introverted dances. When I dance it with a good lead it feels like thinking together. (Now I want to go dance it. ..)

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