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Friday, 7 January 2011


Perhaps there ought to be a sign at the entrance of milongas which reminds patrons that teaching on the dance-floor is inappropriate.

Here’s another idea: suggest to the would-be tutors of tango that they hire their own teaching venue for instructional purposes rather than exploiting a milonga.

OK, let me totally frank about this: I believe that providing unsolicited advice to one’s partner at a milonga is disrespectful and offensive behaviour.

Regardless of the intention (e.g. “helping” a less experienced partner, wanting to execute one’s favourite moves, etc.) it’s just not on! And to those who reluctantly put up with it, or even feel grateful for it, let me repeat: It’s just not on! And you shouldn’t put up with it. In fact by tolerating it, you are encouraging the behaviour, and therefore are a part of the problem.

When an invitation to dance is accepted at a milonga, it should be on the premise that the two parties would like the pleasure of dancing together to that particular tanda of music (Dancing as equals). Besides, to be in the moment and really dance tango together, you have to focus on the music and your partner, not be distracted by an explanation of the technicalities of a figure. That’s what lessons and practicas are for.

Not only is this behaviour offensive to the recipient, it also disrupts the flow of the dancers at the milonga. A well-functioning ronda relies upon all the dancers (especially the men) cooperating with each other, some would say dancing with each other, hence enabling the couples to proceed in the line of dance without interference. Stopping to teach your partner on the pista would hardly endear you to your fellow dancers who are banking up behind you or are attempting to avoid you. In fact, it’s a recipe for chaos on the dance-floor.

Finally, I find the instructions which are audible to all those around the would-be tutor & partner so distracting, that I lose focus even when my favourite pieces of music are playing.

So what could be your options if this happens to you:
· Accept the advice with gratitude or in silence – Definitely not recommended
· Say: I simply can’t dance and talk.
· Say: Could we discuss this later, off the floor?
· Say: Thank-you and return to your seat.
· Say: Do you want to dance with me or teach me?
· If you’re a woman say: If you can lead it, I’ll try to follow.
· Never dance with this partner again.
· Look around and discover that it’s often the poorer dancers who are the advice-givers.

Perhaps rehearsing a suitable response would be helpful to some. A consistent approach to this issue could well lead to some noticeable changes in behaviour.

Am I alone in these sentiments?


Jackie said...

I get fed up with these so called ‘good dancers’ advising you what to do and how to execute the moves at a milonga, who do they think they are! They are certainly not good enough to teach. What makes them think that they are superior, just because in tango us women have to follow regardless of how poor they lead. But O no it’s not them it is us!! So they start pointing out how tango should be danced at a Milonga where we should be relaxing and enjoying the dance. If we need lessons we will go to a qualified teacher. Well I’m for one fed up, so much so that I had lost my confidence and was on the verge of giving up the dance that I love but I’m not giving into these insensitive guys who don’t care whether they make you feel inadequate. Let’s stand together girls and tell them where to ‘get off’ in the nicest possible way, then they may take the hint!!

Anonymous said...

Yes. And I wince when I see those same few guys do this week after week....ugh!

Tango Salon Adelaide said...

Dear Jackie and Anonymous,
Thanks for your comments. I'm pleased to see that I'm not alone in these sentiments. Although you both refer to men as the main culprits, it pains me to say, that from my observation, occasionally women are also guilty of this.

steve said...

I agree Pat. Tango is challenging enough as it is without being "taught" during the embrace. We men and Ladies are very vulnerable as we move through the plateaus of Tango, And this needs to be respected greatly!.Non Verbal Communication is so much more powerful than words !.WE men have a Great Responsibility to be caring and gentle with our partners, to do what we can to foster and enjoy the ever elusive moments of Connection. tanda teachers need to revisit tango basics and manners. steve taylor

Eduardo said...

Two or three weeks ago, while playing Social tennis in Kurralta Park , next to our court , was a mix on, and the lady apparently got sick of receiving coaching from the guy during the match and suddenly abandoned the match shouting at him : 'I am sick of you telling me what to do, if you are that good, then play by yourself'. He is a good player, but that does not give him the right to instruct a partner, and , particularly, if she did not ask. He upset her and, irrespective of the noble intentions he had, he ruined her evening. (I am sure Jackie felt the same way).

The comment of Jackie was not superficial : she had a bad time, she did suffer, and probably considered quitting Tango altogether . Tango dancing is not easy and that's why many Porteños and Uruguayans love it but can not dance;the last thing a Tanguero needs is criticism in front of a crowd.

A more friendly - a bit sarcastic- way out is give the girls a label to wear in the milonga with the legend "I am here to dance , not to learn!"

Roger said...

Firstly I think that Bob and Pat are very generous in not charging, these free range teachers, for the space they use at milongas. Be fair girls, it's the only way that some people can lead, by explaining what they are doing. More proficient leaders just lead and guess what; followers follow. Mind you I have been guilty of "teaching" on the milonga floor, but usually in response to my follower asking what was I meant to do. Maybe areas of my leading need improving. However if it was that bad that I had to explain it every 30 seconds I would hang up my tango shoes.

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