Tango Topics | Exploring Your Dance

Today’s Tango Truth 067:  The Row of Women That Sit

They’re at every milonga in the world (with an exception or two – Russia & Asia). Every. Milonga. THAT row of women, of a certain age, and a certain disposition, that for a few valid reasons (pretty or not) who are sitting, and not by choice. Most have been sitting for more than an hour or two.

There’s a list of possible reasons why they’re sitting: Age (Very Likely). Tango ‘Baggage‘ (Really, follow the links on those two reasons). 2nd Glass of Red Wine (Likely). They’re tired (Possible). There aren’t enough men (Possible). They’re not interested (Possible). They’re talking with girlfriends (Possible). They’re placed, depending on the milonga, sitting next to one another (Possible). They like sitting together, all in a row (Ummm…). The chair is very comfortable (Seriously ?). The atmosphere is lovely (Oh come on!). The music is delightful and they just want to tap their foot to it (ok that’s it, out!). Bullshit.

There is however an underlying reason why these women sit, on a regular basis, it’s because they have ‘issues’.

The issues ? So that we’re clear about what’s about to be said, this is not Follower Bashing in any way, shape, or form. Nor is it by any stretch of the imagination that you can come up with – some perfectionistic ideal of Tango. It’s stating fact, so that you, gentle reader, understand what will come later.

These issues are as follows, but are not limited to:

1.) They waver.
2.) They’re highly unstable.
3.) They push.
4.) They pull.
5.) They hang!
6.) Their left bicep is crushing their lead’s right arm with their weight, or the lead’s shoulder, or along the shoulder line.
7.) They’re slow. Lethargic. Sloth-like in their execution.
8.) They fumble their footwork (unconsciously dangly feet).
9.) They hold on for dear life.

Again dear reader, this is not Follower Bashing.

It’s stating a fact, as witnessed. You may not like to hear it, or believe that it’s true, or think that the author is a perfectionistic asswipe that’s never danced the Follower’s role a day in their lives. But, sadly, all of that isn’t true. Said author dances the role of the Follower quite frequently, if not on a nightly basis. So yeah, there’s some validity to these things.

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Before you go any further: Do not believe for an instant, under any level of delusion that you may harbor, that the Lead does not have issues. They do. As evidenced here, here. here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here just to name a few. This page is an equal opportunity teller of truth. Neither role is safe from pointing the finger of less than desirable. Are we clear ? 🙂 Good.

That said….

These Followers are sitting for long lengths of time because… ? Nearly every Lead in the room has had an experience with them (note the underlying reasons above) that is in some way, shape, or form, a conglomeration of those ‘issues’ laid out previously, and generally once a L/lead has an experience like that, that Lead never asks for a 2nd tanda again. Once a Lead has experienced these types of Followers, they tend to not want to go back to them again. The reason ? It has nothing to do with age. It has nothing to do with weight. Although these two factors do play a role in the perception of less-than-desirable. And it certainly has nothing to do with what shoes you’re wearing or what clothes you have on. Nor how much or how little cleavage you’re showing. No. It has everything to do with SKILLS! And really it comes down to stability as stated above.

Before we press on a bit further it’s important to note that the two factors above do play a role with a potential Lead picking from the Row Of Women That Sit. Age and Weight. The reality is, and this is going to be the dangerous 3rd rail that will turn off most of you, we understand that but it has to be said: Age and Weight do play a role in a Lead selecting from the Row of Women. This isn’t about graying hair, it’s about being physically capable to execute X, Y, or Z and not feeling this less-than-agile older body missing note after note, opportunity after opportunity. That’s the reality. That’s what’s in their heads. So get the thought out of your head that it’s the physiological Age, it’s again…about ability. What comes part and parcel with that lack of ability is the lethargy. The perception is that the older the Follower, the more likely they are to be slower to respond.

Mind you what was written there ‘perception‘. That perception may or may not be based in reality, but it’s a perception that is in the Lead’s head that you’re more than likely not going to change (unless….). And because that perception exists, and because of the other factors previously mentioned, you end up with, the row of women that sit.

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The Tango Topics OpinionThere are 4 options for the Row of Women that sit:

1.) Continue to sit.
2.) Learn to Lead. Which means changing your shoes, and then find a follower to dance with! 
3.) Go home. That solves nothing except to assuage the immediacy of the problem. 
4.) Private Lessons

Let’s talk about that last option: Private Lessons. Let’s assume for the moment that you decide that a private lesson a week will help. It won’t. Let’s also decide that you’ve been to BsAs, or study with the local “Gustavo” and that he tells you frequently that you’re doing great! (you’re not) Let’s also assume that you’ve been at this a while. True! You have.

All that being said. You have issues the size of Montana (instability, hanging, pulling, pushing, micro compressions, compression, squeezing, lack of kinesthetic awareness, just to name a few). But for the moment let’s assume that you believe that a singular private lesson will address your issues. That’s 1 hour per week. It’s not enough. That said private lessons are going to take a while, a long while to address your issues. All true.

Well, the latter part of that statement is true. However, a singular private lesson will change nothing. The issue that has to change is not necessarily in Gustavo or what he’s on about, it’s in your head! Getting your head on straight as there are a few things that you need to consider going forward so that you’re not in that row of women that sit.

First and foremost, do you want to be in that row ? Probably not. No one does. But the row happens anyway.

Secondly whomever the local “Gustavo” is, he’s more than likely keeping you on as a student for a few reasons which have nothing to do with Tango. He’s got his bills to pay, you dig ? Let’s put it this way, if you’ve been studying with X for longer than 6 months and your dancing is doing exactly what it was doing before you started with X, then you know what ? It’s time to get rid of that teacher. A teacher should clean up your dance. They should make a noticeable impact on your form, your embrace, your walk. Etc. However, and while this one is a choice, they should also start to address the other problem that you have very little control over. And that’s the Tango Baggage issue. Please go follow the link, as we’re not going to discuss what that is here. Suffice it said, if said Teacher doesn’t address that issue, then you’re going to sit. And no matter how many lessons you’ve had, or how much you work on your technique if there’s no one there to show off what you can do in the arms of a proper L/lead then you’re going to continue to occupy a place of honor in the row of women that sit.

Thirdly, you have to make a conscious choice in the cost to tango ratio. Which goes something like this: If the milonga is 10 dollars. This milonga is 4 hours long, and there are about 6 tandas in an hour. And there are 50 potential leads in the room. That means that you have 24 potential opportunities to dance in a particular milonga. Assuming that the DJ plays a typical 443, 4 Tangos, 4 Vals, and 3 Milonga, in the following structure of 2 Tangos, 1 Milonga, 2 Tangos, 1 vals, and so on, and there are acceptable Milonga partners to dance with. You still have 24 potential opportunities. That means for your 10 dollars, each tanda costs you $00.41 cents. Now we add in how much your privates are costing you, say 2 a week, so the cost goes up from 41 cents to 5.40 + .41 or $5.81 per tanda. And really you’re not going to dance every tanda, so maybe every other tanda so the cost goes up to $11.62! Maybe even every 3 tandas you’re dancing ? Is it worth it to you to study with the local “Gustavo” and spend $5.81 per tanda to sit ? Probably not, you probably want that cost to tango ratio to go down. And the only way that’s going to go down is that you dance more and talk less.

Lastly, quite possibly the only thing that’s going to help you not be in the row of women that sit is to employ The Follower’s Playbook or what we call “Mirada – Asking A Man To Dance“. Follow the link and find out. Good luck. Hmm…you should totally go read the next tango thought in this sequence to get the other side of the equation > the Row of Men that Stand! Just to get some perspective.

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