In case it’s not clear, the primary author of this site, is a man.
When it comes to a man talking about men’s stuff, or men’s technique. I clearly should know what I’m talking about because… well…I have all the right dangly, and hairy bits in all the right places. Clearly this qualifies me to speak definitively on the topic of Men’s Technique.
But as far as Women’s Technique goes, there’s absolutely NO WAY IN HELL that I know what I’m talking about. None. Zero.
Except that neither of those two statements have any validity whatsoever. Just because you have the gender doesn’t immediately make you an expert on the gender of role that you dance.
I know many Male Followers who chose to dance the role of the Follower over their gendered role (Leading, in this case) that are absolutely amazing. I also know more than a few Female Leads that are effing stellar and not because they’re women leading but because they’re LEADS! Got it ?
So it should come as no surprise to you, if you’ve read this far, that a man can talk about, and demonstrate Follower technique that can actually help you and change your skillset for the better.
However that’s not enough because talking about it, and doing it, are two different things.
Have you ever noticed that a lot of women will go to a Male Teacher that has never danced the Follower’s Role a day in their life and still pay them for their time to dance them around the room to correct their issues ? And in these same private lessons the Follower is told to do all manner of things and place their body here, there, and everywhere in between, again…by a man, that has never danced the role of the Follower, either in practice, or socially, a day in their lives. Keep that thought in the back of your mind…it’ll come in handy in a bit.
Mister Miles, the author of this page, on the other hand, has. Repeatedly. And going a bit further, he even went so far as to purchase a pair of Comme Il Fauts, very early on (they’re gone now, they burned up in a chemical fire), and danced socially for a year solid in them. He did this not because he had a desire to wear women’s shoes, nor did he have a shoe fettish, nor did have latent mommy issues. No, he did this because he wanted to know what it felt like to dance the role of the Follower so that he could fully ‘grok’ the dance.
The thinking at the time, and it still holds true today, was that you can never fully understand a person, until you have walked a mile in their shoes. In this case, literally. So I did precisely that for a year solid in every class, in every workshop, always swapping roles so that I could experience the other side of the embrace.
Oddly enough when I was going through that training it never occurred to me that that information would be formative and useful later on. As it turned out, it was probably the single most important piece of information I would need to my future tango life but that’s a horse of a different color and a story for another day.
So here’s the ‘street’ cred for this site. This author has done what the Follower has/is doing many times, socially. Has walked a mile in their shoes, literally. Everything you see here on Tango Topics the author has done and found a work around for so that you don’t have to.
Take for instance the Follower’s Exercise video, this is seemingly a ridiculous way of walking that you’ll almost NEVER, EVER use on a social dance floor. Until you realize that it’s one long isolation technique. It’s one long series of isolation techniques strung together to make it appear like a tango walk. When in fact, it’s not. However, those isolation techniques, are absolutely required in every phase, of every stage, of the dance. How’s that ? Just by example, in the exercise the Follower is asked and show an extreme form of Opposition (which you erroneously look at and call “contra body” movement) that the Follower would NEVER ever do in a Tango Walk. Except that they do! When ? Traveling Ochos (or what you call an “Ocho” there are 8 types of Ochos. The Traveling variety is the most common one, because…it ‘travels’ – hence it’s name – down the line of dance). Repeatedly. Still another is the Extreme-ness of that Opposition, which would never happen, nor does it need to. Except that it does. Why ? The rationale is that we’re “overshooting to underdo”. Which is to say that if you can do it in the extreme, then it’s not so much of a bother to do something in the minimal because you’ve already done it in the minimal and way beyond that. Such is the case with Disassociation which is a kissin’ cousin to Opposition! Hence the reason why we do Opposition in the extreme which is set up for us doing Disassociation which will then become Applied Diassociation and then used in …. say it with me > A TRAVELING OCHO!
These are just some of the things that a MALE Teacher, who has done the hard work of the Follower’s role is justified and validated in saying and promoting the things that I say and do and practice.
So perhaps, this male teacher, who works in bare feet might actually have something to say on the topic of the role of the Follower, perhaps ?
But before you do, here’s just one more reasoning that you might want to take into consideration: Because it certainly can’t hurt to have one more perspective that may look a little strange, but the results speak for themselves. And here’s one more…after years of testing, trial, and error (lots and lots and lots of error), this particular teacher has learned that he’s not so bad as a Follower. He doesn’t feel like a man trying to follow. He actually feels, from all accounts, quite nice to dance with. Hmmmm and maybe that’s probably the best endorsement possible.