What to do about gender imbalance

#1
I suspect there is no easy answer to thus question.
In my tango school, there is and has been consistently a gender imbalance.
This is causing frustrations with the more numerous gender group ( male, very surprisingly..)...
Anyway, this has been unfortunately going on for way too long and is causing lots of frustrations - not getting practice and thus slow learning being the main gripe. Other gripes include just not as fun anymore when there are not many new people to meet ( especially of the opposite sex - this is one of the main reasons why both male and female start dancing in the first place).
As a result, people are dropping out.
Unfortunately, the studio won't enforce a gender equal numbers policy...as long as you are willing to pay, you are in.
I want to see tango thrive in this studio, but is clearly on a decline with growing customer dissatisfaction.
Any suggestions on how to turn this around?
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#2
The leaders who also learn to follow by dancing with each other will be much better partners for the women who do show up. So with followers (and women) being in short supply and therefore in demand, being the best possible leader will give an advantage.

I'm surprised that your instructor isn't having people learn both roles or at least suggested that leaders take on the follower role when the class is out of balance. Or did they try that and the guys just aren't willing?
 
#3
The leaders who also learn to follow by dancing with each other will be much better partners for the women who do show up. So with followers (and women) being in short supply and therefore in demand, being the best possible leader will give an advantage.

I'm surprised that your instructor isn't having people learn both roles or at least suggested that leaders take on the follower role when the class is out of balance. Or did they try that and the guys just aren't willing?
I am not surprised at all that the instructor is not trying to tech men how to follow. In our dancing society if a man is a leader, he has no interest or desire to learn how to follow.
I am a man and I never learned how to follow and I also never heard complaints about my lead. And I am not unique...
The only way to get more ladies to those classes is by publicity. If some interested ladies would know that there is a glut of men in the class, they will come flocking. Lack of men is the main reason ladies don't show up.
 
#4
The leaders who also learn to follow by dancing with each other will be much better partners for the women who do show up. So with followers (and women) being in short supply and therefore in demand, being the best possible leader will give an advantage.

I'm surprised that your instructor isn't having people learn both roles or at least suggested that leaders take on the follower role when the class is out of balance. Or did they try that and the guys just aren't willing?
The latter..guys are not willing to play the role of followers.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#5
I am not surprised at all that the instructor is not trying to tech men how to follow. In our dancing society if a man is a leader, he has no interest or desire to learn how to follow.
I am a man and I never learned how to follow and I also never heard complaints about my lead. And I am not unique...
The only way to get more ladies to those classes is by publicity. If some interested ladies would know that there is a glut of men in the class, they will come flocking. Lack of men is the main reason ladies don't show up.
It depends on the culture and the OP's profile does not say where he is.

I know quite a few men who learned to follow. Now, I'm not saying they are all GREAT followers... but they do have rudimentary understanding of the follower's role and have danced it with each other or with female followers learning to lead.

NONE of the leaders I know who are physically uncomfortable to dance with have ever bothered to learn anything about following.
ALL of the leaders I know who have at least done a smidge of following are progressing faster and are more sought after as partners.

Does that mean that ONLY leaders who have learned to follow are desirable partners? No. But if ALL of the leaders who take time to try following are among the more sought after partners, and ALL of the bad leaders have not learned to follow, then clearly learning to follow, while not absolutely necessary for skill, has a positive effect (and little to no negative effect)

After all, it was a system that worked for the Argentines... maybe they were on to something about learning Argentine Tango.
;)
 
#6
I am not surprised at all that the instructor is not trying to tech men how to follow. In our dancing society if a man is a leader, he has no interest or desire to learn how to follow.
I am a man and I never learned how to follow and I also never heard complaints about my lead. And I am not unique...
The only way to get more ladies to those classes is by publicity. If some interested ladies would know that there is a glut of men in the class, they will come flocking. Lack of men is the main reason ladies don't show up.
Well. I do think they have some publicity.. They advertise and are on tours, showcases in public areas etc...
They are getting some followers that are new, but they are dropping out after first lesson or two ( don't know exactly why but I suspect it has a lot to do with the followers... Um... Not liking what they see in class. that is...the average age of followers is young but average age if leads is almost a couple of decades senior...hence I can understand if the followers don't think they will have the necessary fun for the price) ... leaving the die hards...which are mostly men. And now the men are kicking up a stink because it's becoming a sausage fest.
I don't think there is an easy answer to this...both the men and women are dissatisfied.... That spell dire trouble for amy busuness if customers are not happy.
 
Last edited:

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#7
The latter..guys are not willing to play the role of followers.
I disagree with Reuven that all you have to do to get women to come to a class is publicize that there are plenty of men. The main reasons I see women NOT going to classes is that they are either not getting anything out of it because the instructors focus on the leaders, or the leaders are not enjoyable to dance with or to learn with.

Usually it's a mix of both.

Not saying that either of those things is true in your situation, but if the leaders are that unwilling to learn anything about following, it's certainly possible that the women just don't enjoy dancing with the leaders in the classes or taking the classes for some reason.

You say that this has been going on for awhile, and is a problem at this studio... is there other instruction in tango in your community? Are there milongas? What's the role balance at them? Are the women taking elsewhere? Do you see women at milongas and practicas that don't take at your studio? If so, ask them where they are taking and why.

In order to get more followers to take the classes you are in, it would help you to know why they AREN"T.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#8
Well. I do think they have some publicity.. They advertise and are on tours, showcases in public areas etc...
They are getting some followers that are new, but they are dropping out after first lesson. leaving the die hards...which are mostly men. And now the men are kicking up a stink because it's becoming a sausage fest.
It's very unusual for women to drop out of tango after 1 lesson where there are plenty of men in the class. I'm guessing that there's something about the class, the instruction, or some of the participants that is a serious and unusual turn-off. If there is an alternative avenue for instruction in your community, you may want to check it out and talk to some people from it. Unless you're in an area with a huge gender imbalance in the population, there seems to be something weird happening in your class, although I can accecpt that a huge age disparity could account for it
 
#10
It's very unusual for women to drop out of tango after 1 lesson where there are plenty of men in the class.
It happens rather often.

I can usually tell if a woman will continue coming to the class or not.
Unfortunately, many beautiful women drop out quickly.

I bring my partner to a class that is more expensive, but less crowded. The teachers often come to her, dance with her, and try to fix her mistakes.
 
Last edited:
#13
It happens rather often.

I can usually tell if a woman will continue coming to the class or not.
Unfortunately, many beautiful women drop out quickly.

I bring my partner to a class that is more expensive, but less crowded. The teachers often come to her, dance with her, and try to fix her mistakes.
In your experience why is that you think they drop out quickly? The top 2 reasons I think they drop out quickly are :
1. If they don't like what they see in the crowd
2. It's too difficult and requires too much patience. Take for instance salsa,in salsa after say 3-5 months, the student can hit the salsa club and get by. Not so with tango...after 3-5 months of tango, they are still learning the basic walk!!!!!
I can understand how some will interpret this as not fun compared to the competition e.g. salsa meringue etc
In our class..nothing wrong with instructors - they are good friendly and competent... but it's getting all a bit stale with a large proportion of the exact same people class after class and no new blood and we simply cannot hold on to the new people, especially followers.
Fortunately, it's a fairly large city I'm in, so there are dance schools around every corner - I too have choice and may be entertaining that choice very soon if the scene does not improve.
 
#14
In your experience why is that you think they drop out quickly? The top 2 reasons I think they drop out quickly are :
1. If they don't like what they see in the crowd
2. It's too difficult and requires too much patience. Take for instance salsa,in salsa after say 3-5 months, the student can hit the salsa club and get by. Not so with tango...after 3-5 months of tango, they are still learning the basic walk!!!!!
I can understand how some will interpret this as not fun compared to the competition e.g. salsa meringue etc
In our class..nothing wrong with instructors - they are good friendly and competent... but it's getting all a bit stale with a large proportion of the exact same people class after class and no new blood and we simply cannot hold on to the new people, especially followers.
Fortunately, it's a fairly large city I'm in, so there are dance schools around every corner - I too have choice and may be entertaining that choice very soon if the scene does not improve.
This doesn't explain why more men come and stick with it - it's more difficult for everybody!
 
#15
This doesn't explain why more men come and stick with it - it's more difficult for everybody!
I was referring more to the followers and that too, the younger ones.
Similar for younger leads; it's the older men that have the patience and have been doing it for a long time and are not there with the main intent to check out younger girls that are the ones who stay...so in that regard, yes it does partly explain, but with the caveat for older men.
Almost every young male who initially joined has left. However, virtually every experienced a d older male has stayed. For the followers, most new younger females have left, ad have the older females....leaving not many females at all...hence the gender imbalance and given the makeup of the class (with all respect to the leads in class), the average age of leads over 50 isn't going to attract younger females. Unless of course, the younger followers are there for the main purpose of dancing and dancing itself ( and many articles on various sites say this is the minority).. This appears to be the case in my class as well. This seems a bit of a compounding problem which I see no easy answer at all.
 
Last edited:

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#16
2. It's too difficult and requires too much patience. Take for instance salsa,in salsa after say 3-5 months, the student can hit the salsa club and get by. Not so with tango...after 3-5 months of tango, they are still learning the basic walk!!!!!
In our class..nothing wrong with instructors - they are good friendly and competent... but it's getting all a bit stale with a large proportion of the exact same people class after class and no new blood and we simply cannot hold on to the new people, especially followers.
Fortunately, it's a fairly large city I'm in, so there are dance schools around every corner - I too have choice and may be entertaining that choice very soon if the scene does not improve.
You never responded as to whether there is a tango community outside of just your school and if there is a big imbalance at the milongas. Do you go to milongas or just to your class or events at your own studio? In my area, the ballroom community exists fairly separate from the Tango community. Some people do both, but even they don't try to take tango at a studio that is primarily ballroom. You say there are lots of studios. Are there events that people from many studios all attend? Are there any tango organizers who ONLY do that?

If it's a large city with a tango scene that doesn't have a major role imbalance, then the problem has to do with your specific studio or class, and can't be blamed on how difficult tango is.

IME, the followers progress faster than leaders as beginners, so it would be unusual for the entire community to have so few followers regardless of where they are learning. Even so, people should be able to dance something more than the basic walk after 5 months, even though the walk will still need work for quite awhile. You'll be "learning" the basic walk for more than 5-6 months, but you should be learning enough other things to begin the process of constructing a whole dance, not just walk.

I also have to wonder why total beginners are in the class with the people who have been "the exact same people class after class". You can't hold on to new people... why are new people in the class at all? Why don't they have their own beginner class? Is it because there aren't enough people to warrant separate classes?
 
Last edited:
#18
You never responded as to whether there is a tango community outside of just your school and if there is a big imbalance at the milongas. Do you go to milongas or just to your class or events at your own studio? In my area, the ballroom community exists fairly separate from the Tango community. Some people do both, but even they don't try to take tango at a studio that is primarily ballroom. You say there are lots of studios. Are there events that people from many studios all attend? Are there any tango organizers who ONLY do that?

If it's a large city with a tango scene that doesn't have a major role imbalance, then the problem has to do with your specific studio or class, and can't be blamed on how difficult tango is.

IME, the followers progress faster than leaders as beginners, so it would be unusual for the entire community to have so few followers regardless of where they are learning. Even so, people should be able to dance something more than the basic walk after 5 months, even though the walk will still need work for quite awhile. You'll be "learning" the basic walk for more than 5-6 months, but you should be learning enough other things to begin the process of constructing a whole dance, not just walk.

I also have to wonder why total beginners are in the class with the people who have been "the exact same people class after class". You can't hold on to new people... why are new people in the class at all? Why don't they have their own beginner class? Is it because there aren't enough people to warrant separate classes?
Ofcoyrse there is a tango community outside of my school. It's a fairly large city which I mentioned before and have many miongas as well as many other schools. From what I know, they have somewhat similar challenges, but not nearly as bad.
Yes, there are events outside that are well attended.
Why beginners ( female only) promoted? To lessen the impact of the imbalance....
To give them credit though. They all did have prior dance experience albeit different styles. They are quick learners as well.
 
Last edited:

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#19
Ofcoyrse there is a tango community outside of my school. It's a fairly large city which I mentioned before and have many miongas as well as many other schools. From what I know, they have somewhat similar challenges, but not nearly as bad.
Yes, there are events outside that are well attended.
Why beginners ( female only) promoted? To lessen the impact of the imbalance....
To give them credit though. They all did have prior dance experience albeit different styles. They are quick learners as well.
Do these followers drop completely out of Tango or do they move over to another instructor? Did they ever go to events?

If the other schools don't have the problem nearly as bad as yours, then find out what they are doing differently. It's not just the global difficulty of Tango if the community is thriving and other classes have better balance and retention. The best resources for how to fix the problem are the people in your own community who don't go to your school or who went and left.
 
#20
The latter..guys are not willing to play the role of followers.
I am a beginning lead. In our class, there is no problem of gender imbalance. Just wanted to signal that it would not disturb me to take up a follower role from time to time. I believe that it would help me understand better how the lead is perceived (or not) by the follower, and that it would help me lead better.
 

Dance Ads

Top