Today’s #Tango Thought 075: The Follower’s Work
These words may come as a surprise to you dear reader considering that this page has seemingly ‘bashed’ or disparaged the role of the Follow in any number of ways, however: The role of the Follower is work.
This is by no means a complete list, but just a taste: A Follower must master in order to ‘dance’ with a particular Lead their stability, their walk backwards, and forwards, and side, without wobbling. They must master turning left and right, in close and open embrace, employing a Follower’s Molinete (the ‘grape vine’ turn) and or any of the 7 other types of turns that they’re led to. Their crosses must be clean (forward or back). They must not ‘plank’ in a Colgada, they must learn to ‘fall’ in a Volcada, and they must learn to step into their lead in a Sacada. They must master their disassociation and applied disassociation in the Ocho, which eventually leads to their ability to Boleo in Circular Boleos. They must adorn and embellish musically between the beats so as not to interrupt the lead (the action and not the person). They must constantly manage their space, their distance, their circular awareness around their lead with where they’re placing their foot and how so as to constantly manage the optimally position of the couple, and at the same time trying to not hit anyone. And all the while their embrace must not hang, pull, push, or constrict the lead’s motion in any way, shape, or form.
That’s work. Hard work.
And all of that is done in 3 in heels, walking backwards whilst some sweaty piece of man has their proverbial meathooks around them, pushing and pulling this way and that, while ‘helping’ them (ahem…read that as ‘correcting them’).
Yup! That sounds like ‘fun’ doesn’t it ? Not to mention there’s so much ‘passion’ there, no ? Not!
Let’s be clear about something, this is ‘work’, all physiological work, it’s labor. A Lead (the person) may not understand just how much work this is until they do the job themselves, and they have the misfortune to ‘dance’ with a lead as characterized above. And at that point their perspective changes. Radically. Why ? Because they don’t want to be that guy. This moment is usually an awakening for the lead because they become Follower sensitive. Their lead changes from force, tension, and resistance moving gradually towards intention, suggestion and invitation.
As to the Follower’s work, it is never done. They’re constantly being challenged by L/leads that are not clear in what they want, and when they are clear usually the L/lead is employing and asking for resistance from them. They must put up with the Lead that talks in their ear while dancing with them (this is talking, not dancing). They have to deal with the lead that squeezes them and then pulled them off balance constantly. While at the same time having a Lead that is watching their feet, and their head is usually pressing against them. They must interpret an unclear beat between two masters (the music, and the lead’s interpretation of that). They must constantly work on their walking technique, forwards, side, and back. Let’s not forget the sensual/sexual issues that come up. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.