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Saturday, 19 November 2011

It's a man's world - fact or fiction?

We’ve been scratching our heads over a behaviour that we’ve observed with some frequency. There’s been no number-crunching but we’ll stick our necks out and call it a trend. What is of concern is that this behaviour has the potential to upset the equilibrium and halt the progress of a tango community. As to its causes, we can only speculate, and we won’t bore you too much with amateur psychology. No doubt, you’ll have your theories.

Anyway, here goes:

When we notice the disrespectful practice of a dancer giving their partner advice or doing a spot of teaching at a milonga, the perpetrator is normally not the lady. Although, to be fair, it could be argued that the lady is partly to blame for putting up with this inappropriate behaviour, rather than abandoning her partner on the dance-floor.

Have the men in question conscientiously striven to improve their own dancing, taking lots of private classes and doing countless hours of focussed practice so they can lead perfectly?

Are they experts in the woman's role, too?

If the culprits of this behaviour think they are so accomplished and their dance partners so inept, why do they invite them to dance?

Even more to the point, why do their dance partners repeatedly accept their invitations and willingly subject themselves to this?

We just don’t get it!


  1. Yes you do! The post title says it all.

    This is not a new phenomenon; and it's not particular to your community or to Buenos Aires; it is universal.

    A man wants to feel all knowing, as he is the leader and responsible for the dance. And so he thinks that gives him power to criticize his partner, even if the fault lies with him. Especially when the fault lies with him. He feels more powerful, more like a man, and less insecure.

    But you know what? It's never the great and best dancers who criticize their partners; it's the mediocre ones.

    So the ladies should follow the codigos and not put up with being taught or criticized on the dance floor. It's not easy to just say, Gracias, or thank you, and walk off in the middle of a tanda, but if enough women do it perhaps those men will learn that it's inappropriate.

    But then again, there are always big eyed newbies who just want to dance. Ladies, we do have to face the fact that it is a man's world on a traditional tango floor.

  2. In short, ladies you shouldn't put up with bad behaviour. If you tolerate it, you are rewarding the culprit and encouraging repeat-offences.It's not good for you and it's certainly not good for the wider tango community.

  3. I agree: "It's never the great and best dancers who criticize their partners; it's the mediocre ones."
    I would add even those that aren't even mediocre.

    And I also agree: "If you tolerate it, you are rewarding the culprit and encouraging repeat-offences.

    I very rarely see followers refusing a dance and yet they complain afterwards.

    Mind you the community knows who they are. How many times have I heard " I see that "Pablo Veron(some mediocre leader)is teaching again". I do notice that these would be Pablos know who NOT to teach.

  4. OK it's a mans world, but that does not give the man the right to criticise his partner on the dance-floor, nor does the woman have the right to criticise the man, unless she wants to be crossed off his mental list of suitable partners.

    I find that quite often I get to dance with women who have never been taught, or have been so badly taught that they still lack basic skills such as waiting on the foot that the man puts her on, for him to lead the direction of her next step, or caressing the floor with the trailing foot, rather than prancing like a pony

    We men know that talking is disapproved of, but between consenting adults, the reality is that it happens, and the man in his assumed role as protector, guide, mentor, leader, can surely be allowed to politely help his badly taught partner, if she is willing, with just two or three basic skills that are needed to dance tango?

  5. I spoke to a lady the other day who says she feels too frightened to come to milongas now, because she gets criticized by some partners (she does, by the way, dance quite satisfactorily). This should never be allowed to happen. My advice: Tell him “you lead, and I’ll follow”; if that doesn’t work, then deliver a terse “Thank you” and walk off the floor.

    The milonga is not the place for any instruction. The practica is the place for well-meant feedback or assistance (which is not the same as criticism). I choose to dance with women with some knowledge of what they can & can’t do – because I’ve watched them dance first. Then I dance within those parameters - we dance as equals (see earlier Tango Salon post) – and my aim is to make it a genuine connection between my partner, me and the music – that’s all. If all she can do is walk in the embrace, then we walk, and I can make that interesting, musical, and enjoyable.


  6. I'd bet those 'false prophets' are always the same ones.

    "Let the embrace do the talking" is tooooooooooooo subtle!....you need a message more sarcastic like:

    "Dear Tango Illuminati: Please note that this is a Dancing-Only Milonga" or

    "Mentoring at our milonga without a licence attracts a maximun penalty of 250$" or

    "Enquire here about the licence to teach unlimited number of learners at our milongas"

  7. It's a great email thread, and of course I agree that the ideal is "no talking", but the real world rarely matches the ideal. I'll be in Adelaide from Christmas Day (a bit sooty in the morning), until 2nd January, and if there's any tango, I promise not to say a word.


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