What to do about gender imbalance

#21
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.
Good for you if it helps you in pursuing Tango. It can not hurt to learn how the lead is perceived by a follower.

From my point of view, if you do not intend to become a follower in Milongas, you are using your resources to learn a skill you will not use.

As a leader I find being follower a very difficult task, that also conflict with my tendency to lead and my tendency to resist being led.

I find that focusing your time and energy or learning skills that you will actually use - leading - a better use of you resources. You will be less worried about perception and more focused on your "job" as a leader.
 
#22
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...
We live in a polite society where dancers don't complain to their partners. They may complain to their friends about their partners. The absence of a complaint doesn't mean there isn't a complaint. It could mean a follower doesn't want to hurt the man's feelings.

I was at a milonga where I saw a leader manhandle his partner. After the tanda, she rubbed her arm because she was in discomfort. When I asked her to dance and said she looked in pain, she complained vociferously. "It is what it is" meaning that if you go to that milonga, expect lousy dancing. She would never think of telling the man who hurt her.

Woman have power in tango. Either they don't know they have it, know they have it, or have it and don't know how to use it. If a woman continues to dance with a lousy leader, the man has no incentive to improve.

You can believe a woman when she compliments. Absence of a compliment doesn't mean absence of a complaint.

As for gender imbalance, my teacher invited me to his group classes for FREE. The studio may want to offer that to advanced dancers.

My Buenos Aires tango tour guide said "the embrace says everything." How many "listen" to the embrace?
 
#24
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.
.
I think this might be it. The instructors do focus a lot on followers....so no perceived issues there. That leaves a likely culprit: the other men are just unenjoyabke to dance with. I have heard somewhat similar murmurings from followers.
Only a very few leads are good. I'm no expert, but I'm competent and enenjoyable to dance with ( feedback from multiple followers)..I ( probably falsely) have assumed all leaders are similar all along. Now that I reflect what followers like in my dancing vs if other leads provide that (namely connection)... I'd say the answer is no.....I could be wrong of course, but looking at other leads - there is little to no emotion connection portrayed. I know for a fact, that that is key in enjoyability for followers ( I've asked them and seen their response in various dances with and without connection..difference is enormous)
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#25
Good for you if it helps you in pursuing Tango. It can not hurt to learn how the lead is perceived by a follower
From my point of view, if you do not intend to become a follower in Milongas, you are using your resources to learn a skill you will not use.
As a leader I find being follower a very difficult task, that also conflict with my tendency to lead and my tendency to resist being led.
I find that focusing your time and energy or learning skills that you will actually use - leading - a better use of you resources. You will be less worried about perception and more focused on your "job" as a leader.
As you might imagine, I totally disagree. As stated above, some of the good leaders I know haven't done any following, but ALL the leaders I know who spent a least a little bit of time learning to follow are among the better leader. NONE of the bad leaders have done any following. Clearly it's a good use of time. I would hope every decent teacher has at least some training in both roles even if they have a teaching partner. Who is sought after for dances? Teachers.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#26
My first thought here was... If there aren't enough guys, why wouldn't you have a reduced price for men?Likewise, why not, have a reduced price for women if their aren't enough women? I believe this gets into the whole idea of "demand pricing," which gets fairly complicated, I guess, but it sounds like a good idea.

Regarding men following...
If it was my call... I would put it out there as a possibility, but I would also make sure everyone understood that it was not an expectation. That expectation WILL alienate a certain percentage of the male population (results may vary depending on location, etc., I'm sure.)
 
#27
My first thought here was... If there aren't enough guys, why wouldn't you have a reduced price for men?Likewise, why not, have a reduced price for women if their aren't enough women? I believe this gets into the whole idea of "demand pricing," which gets fairly complicated, I guess, but it sounds like a good idea.

...
I understand cutting the price to push a product/service via a channel....but am not sure if that can be done ie have one price for men and one for women ( for the exact same product/service)based solely on demand characteristics...and gender....
Not my call anyway...but it's an interesting idea and as you said could open up many issues that the studio may not want to entertain.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#28
Regarding compliments...
I've started to telling just about all of my partners. "that was good." This is especially so if they are a beginner, or have indicated that they "aren't that good,"
I was actually asking myself last week, who I had become.
Then there was last night after I'd done as West Coast Swing with a woman I'd been seeing for weeks, who told me , "That was a super fun West Coast Swing." Different kind of compliment, I think.
 
#29
As you might imagine, I totally disagree. As stated above, some of the good leaders I know haven't done any following, but ALL the leaders I know who spent a least a little bit of time learning to follow are among the better leader. NONE of the bad leaders have done any following. Clearly it's a good use of time. I would hope every decent teacher has at least some training in both roles even if they have a teaching partner. Who is sought after for dances? Teachers.
Did it occur to you that perhaps the leaders who didn't take any following classes simply didn't take any or enough leading classes??
Conversely, the leaders who took following classes are so dedicated to Tango that they took even substantially more leading classes?
The kind of generalizations you are making are not only inconclusive but may be without logical consistency...
 

dchester

Moderator
Staff member
#30
If enough women aren't coming at all, then advertising might be part of the problem. If women do come, and then drop out, it's either the teacher doing something they don't like, or the men are doing something they don't like (which also could be an issue with the teaching).
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#31
Did it occur to you that perhaps the leaders who didn't take any following classes simply didn't take any or enough leading classes??
Conversely, the leaders who took following classes are so dedicated to Tango that they took even substantially more leading classes?
The kind of generalizations you are making are not only inconclusive but may be without logical consistency...
I reported from my own experience of people I know/dance with. I'm pretty aware of who is taking what and how many classes (and from whom) in my community. It's not that big. People who take classes weekly for years on end are getting enough classes. Quantity isn't the issue.

You are making the same mistake that you accuse me of making... extrapolating data to only 1 explanation. I think my explanation makes more sense. I accounted for your factors when I said that not all the good leaders have learned to follow, but all the ones who have learned a little about following are among the good leaders.

Some of the bad leaders have had man y, many classes, but none of the leaders who have learned to follow are bad leaders. It seems pretty clear to me that feeling a lead as a follower helps leaders understand what they need to do.

Also, I never said anything about taking "follower classes" vs "leading classes". I said said 'spent at least a little bit of time learning to follow" which is a completely different thing. That can occur in practicas or in regular classes on nights that there is an imbalance of partners. It can occur when teachers engage in even a small bit of role reversal in their regular classes here and there. It can occur by getting together with friends or by finding a follower who is interested in practicing as a leader. It can occur simply by the instructor putting the leader into the follower position and demonstrating what the follower feels when he does it a certain way vs what she needs to feel.

I know some guys who dance socially as followers for at least a tanda or two each event, but a leader doesn't have to go that far to benefit.

Men learning to follow first from other men was standard practice in Argentina. Don't you think they might have known what they were doing by arranging things that way?

You want logic? (based on my experience of leaders):
You have square (didnt learn any follower role) and round (followers) boxes
You have red (good leaders) and blue (not good leaders) boxes

All round boxes are red
BUT
Not all red boxes are round
Therefore: some red boxes are square but no round boxes are blue
So:
Do you need to learn to follow to be a better leader? No.
Does it increase your chances of becoming a better leader if you give the follower role a try now and then? Yes.

I'm curious what the resistance is really about? Is it being in the follower position or dancing with other men? Are male leaders more willing to spend a few minutes doing the follower role if they are dancing with a female leader? Are they more willing to dance with another man if they are still the leader and the other guy is following? What's the real objection? Following or dancing with men? Or does the combination of both things increase the discomfort level exponentially?
 

newbie

Well-Known Member
#32
Any suggestions on how to turn this around?
Dance between yourselves.
Also, having a class with many more leaders is easier to live with than being the lone leader in a class which has only couples. You can blame the studio when the imbalance is huge.
 
#33
As you might imagine, I totally disagree. As stated above, some of the good leaders I know haven't done any following, but ALL the leaders I know who spent a least a little bit of time learning to follow are among the better leader. NONE of the bad leaders have done any following. Clearly it's a good use of time. I would hope every decent teacher has at least some training in both roles even if they have a teaching partner. Who is sought after for dances? Teachers.
It might be like with an exam where is an extra task.
That the best students can master that means not that you will get one of them only if you try it, too.
 

opendoor

Well-Known Member
#34
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.
Hi Numawan, swapping roles is a good thing, but you cannot draw any benefit from that for the leading role. I dance both roles and they are totally separated in my brain. In the golden age students had to learn the following role first, but only due to the lack of women.
 
#35
I understand why you say that both roles are totally separated in your brain. I am not advocating in any way a mix-up of leading and following. But I still think it would be helpful to experience the other role from time to time.

In our class for example, we had to do a first very simple saccada. I know what I have to do as leader, and it seems to work. But I have a bit of trouble fully understanding the mechanics of the move, and to understand specifically why my partner is reacting correctly. That is where occasionally stepping in the opposite shoes would be interesting in my opinion.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#36
First let me say that I think it can be helpful to experience what it's like to be a follower.

Having said that, Id like to comment on the historical precedent of boys learning from men Buenos Aires tango. Without checking sources, I feel (felt!) pretty confident in writing that there was a huge imbalance between the number of men and women when tango was young.
Well, that's what I thought.
I couldn't help myself, and had to do fact checking. What I found surprised me.

Between 1887 and 1920 the number of Italian born men per 100 women decreased from 195 to 121.
Immigrants in the Lands of Promise: Italians in Buenos Aires and New York ...
By Samuel L. Baily

Well, the Beach Boys celebrated Two Girls for Every Boy, but 1.21 Boys for Every Girl doesn't have the same ring to it.
Now 2 to 1 (in 1887 - pretty much pre tango) is an imbalance, but

Moving into the Golden Age, this is what we see.
1936 City of Buenos Aires Total males 1,203,046 Total females 1,210,783
Buenos Aires: 400 Years
 
#37
In your experience why is that you think they drop out quickly? The top 2 reasons I think they drop out quickly are :
...
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.
Every woman has her own goal.
* She may want to find a husband.
* She may want to perform.
* She may want to learn fancy female adornments.

I would say that some teachers are first-class, some are second-class, but they all charge the same amount.
First-class teachers usually have dancing degrees (like ballerinas) or vast dancing experience, especially if they are Argentinos. First-class teachers spot your problems and fix them, second-class teachers never dance with you and just show steps.

Actually, a small balance could be beneficial. If there are not enough women, a teacher will dance with you instead and fix your problems.
 

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