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Monday, 10 October 2016

Things my mother taught me

When guests come to your home for the first time, you show them in, you introduce them to other people who are present. You help them to feel at ease.

So, in your experience, do milonga organisers make you feel welcome and show you where there are free seats?  Or are you expected to fend for yourself after paying your entry fee? As a newcomer, are you introduced to a few dancers, to help ease you into the local scene?

When going out, I was expected to make an effort with my attire and grooming.  It showed respect and appreciation to my hosts and fellow guests.

Isn't it lovely when men and women at the milonga have donned some nice clothes for the event, which also helps them leave their day-to-day lives at home, at least for a little while.

When wanting to engage in conversation with someone, I learned to read the other person's body language first, to see whether they might be interested in talking with me.

It's wonderful to see more and more people in milongas confidently using the cabeceo, the "Are you interested in dancing with me?" non-verbal form of invitation.

My mother also taught me to say "No", when I felt uncomfortable.

So, I don't understand why otherwise assertive women put up with some dance partners' behaviour. Are they afraid of hurting his feelings? What about their own feelings and self-respect?

If we bump into someone while walking down the footpath, we automatically apologise, and pay more attention as we walk on.

How many times have you been bumped or kicked while dancing at a milonga, with no acknowledgement from the perpetrator, let alone an apology? Nowadays this is infrequent in Adelaide, but it does shock me when it happens.

Should the milonga be any different to other social situations, when it comes to common courtesy? I think not.  Yet, why do some people forget what their mother taught them, when they go to a milonga?

Maybe it's a question of maturing and feeling comfortable in one's tango skin, and realising that  tango is not about executing steps. It's about relating to others.



Anonymous said...

It is with great interest that I read your post not only did you make me laugh but I am sorry the last Milonga I was at, which was in Adelaide only a week ago the age group is mostly over 50's and I am being kind as I am one of them.
Unless you are attending different Milongas in Adelaide?
If someone was read this post they may think you were referring to young age group which is not the case. What is the underline statement you are making as you keep bringing up the same themes? You keep advising reads of yours posts that they should speaker to the organiser of the Milonga if they deem it as unsafe conduct.
Or are you saying that small aging group of Milonga goers in Adelaide are just rude. I can only assume you would know most of the people that attend these Milonga’s why not bring it up with them. Or you have and they have been arrogant.

Whatever the case, I am sorry you have had a bad experience.

Tango Salon Adelaide said...

Thanks for your comments, Anonymous. It looks like I should clarify some points which you remarked on.

You're right about the age-profile of milonga-goers in Adelaide. But actually, I was describing conduct and attitudes which are not age-related. Considerate behaviour, good manners, whatever you wish to call it, applies to everyone, of course.

My reflections are not just applicable to the Adelaide scene, but to any milonga. Behaviours mentioned, both considerate and inconsiderate, have been experienced in various tango environments, not only in this country. Thankfully, most people are considerate of others. If not milongas would be chaotic. And luckily some milonga-goers and organisers are indeed prepared to speak to those individuals whose behaviour makes others uncomfortable.

Basically this post "Things my mother taught me" came about after several conversations with regular milonga-goers (not just in Adelaide). The common question which puzzled us all was: Why do some individuals seem to forget their social graces in the milonga? What is it about the situation which leads these few to forget basic social skills? What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Let me start of by saying is it a lack of social awareness or is it something more simply put arrogance?

My first recommendation would be to ask the leader's to have there eyes open during the dance.

On quite a few occasions I have been bump into stepped on and you will be surprised it is those that have been dancing for quite a few years. I will not use the word experienced dancers, because if they were experienced they would have more of an awareness.

I believe it is simply old men that are arrogant and rude, because it is always the same people.

To highlight my point it is those that dance with new comers and try to show off and let me take it one step further by saying they even try to teach, you know they do.

Tango Salon Adelaide said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for describing examples of behaviours which our mothers would not have taught us.

Unfortunately, what you describe does happen, though I'd like to think that those behaviours are isolated to relatively few individuals in the local community. (I suspect other tango communities experience similar issues.) As in other social activities, a minority can potentially spoil things for the majority.

However, are these behaviours isolated to "old men"? I think not. I've observed men and women of various ages dancing in an anti-social manner, as well as teaching on the dance-floor.

Are they arrogant people? Maybe so. Or, perhaps they are simply unaware of the impact of their behaviour on others.

So, this begs the following question: If we care about our milonga experience and our tango community, what can we do about it?

In my opinion, the answer is simple:

Don't go along with bad behaviour. Do something.

Here's what I mean
> If they behave that way while you are dancing, say you feel uncomfortable and the reason why
> Show no interest in dancing with that person, until they change their ways
> Make the organisers aware, so they can intervene, if appropriate.

None of these options needs to be heavy-handed. But if nothing is done, then the person will not know that there is a problem. That means, of course, that they won't change. Understandably, they will assume it's OK to continue to do these things. So, if we are affected by this behaviour, but we don't do anything, then we must count ourselves as part of the problem.

Do something and be part of the solution! Your tango community will thank you for it.

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