Tango Topics | Exploring Your Dance

Today’s #Tango Thought 098: Rejection

What follows relates to the verbal ask for a dance and it’s rejection. This thought does not talk about the rejection from a failed cabeceo or mirada. Further it should be noted that its not by any stretch of the imagination, the definitive guide. YMMV. 

Let’s lay out some facts before we get to the heart of this stuff.

Fact: The ask, no matter how ‘sly’ you think you’re being, is going to be awkward.

Fact: In a lot of ways asking for a dance is lot like asking someone out for a date. The only difference is that this date lasts about 12 minutes (at most, thankfully).

Fact: If you don’t ask, you’ll never dance, or so you think.

Fact: It’s always someone else’s choice. Always.

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Fact: You’re going to arrive at the Milonga with the skills that you have. They’re not going to magically improve in the next 10 minutes before you ask X for a dance. It’s not going to happen.

Fact: There will always be better dancers than you are. Always. Deal with it. Which is to say if you have insecurities about what you’re doing, join the club. We all do! Get over it.

Fact: You’re going to feel a sense of intimidation, it’s always going to be there, forever. Some people will intimidate you, and some people won’t. It’s not them that’s doing the intimidation, it’s you, and your issues of insecurity that’s projecting that intimidation. 

Fact: You’re always going to have to prove yourself. Always. Regardless of how long you’ve been dancing.

And lastly….

Fact: The fact is that the verbal ask in Tango is a major no-no and will not get you what you want. There are 2 instances under which we can ask someone verbally for a dance: 1.) We already have foreknowledge of the person we’re asking. Meaning that we have a danced with this person before, several times. 🙂 2.) We have been introduced to that person at that moment in time. So a verbal ask is acceptable at the time of introduction. Later on….not so much with that.

Those are the facts.

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Now, to the heart of the matter.

You have an itch to dance with X.

X does not seem busy right at this moment in time.

You go to ask them for a dance, and you realize as a passing thought that they can only say “no”, right ?

Well the fact is that they have an agenda right now and if they’re not looking at you, more than likely they’ve seen you, they know you exist, and you haven’t popped up on their radar yet. It’s that simple.

So let’s assume that for whatever reason they say “no” to your request. There are a two things you have to do immediately.

1.) Smile and say “thank you”, and then here’s the hard part…

2.) Leave. Quickly.

Yes you feel rejected.

Yes, there’s an ouch going on.

Yes, your ego just took a hit.

And yes this stuff matters.

And you know what else ? There will be other people that say “yes”, and there will be people that say “no”. That’s just the nature of this thing we call “Tango”. And there’s quite literally no reason to lose your shit over this stuff. Well ok, maybe one reason, but for the most part, not so much with having a hissy over someone saying “no” to you. Deal with it dude!

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The reality is the person that you’re asking for a dance has their own psychosis going on. They’re just a little focused on getting the dance of their night with their own version of X, and that is clearly not you right at this moment. Truthfully the entire room is doing exactly the same thing. They’re all looking at X for a tanda. And mind you X is a rotating target! Every 9 minutes a new X pops on the radar screen and there we all are, all trying to get the attention of X so that we can have a moment of Tango Nirvana with X. Mind you, never mind mind that Tango Nirvana is a fantasy that you made up in your head, we don’t pay attention to that factoid. 

Right now, you and your issues are not part of what they’ve got going on. There are many reasons why they said “no” right now, and you know what ? Whatever that reason is, it does not matter. Honestly, don’t spend a whole lot of your time on this, not immediately. You can not ascribe some projection of why X doesn’t want to dance with you, it’s their choice and they have their reasons. Their feet hurt, they need a breather, they’ve just been squeezed to death, you reek, you’ve got bad breath and no one has told you, you’re sweating like a hog and don’t realize it, they want to sit this one out, they don’t like milonga (!!!), they don’t like….whatever. Quite honestly it really doesn’t matter. The only thing that does matter is that you take your broken ego elsewhere and go find someone else to dance with, immediately. 

To be clear about something, we do actually want to analyze this rejection, if and only if it keeps happening. If it keeps happening then there is a certain reason why X is saying “no” to you and you may want to ask them why at a practica at some point (assuming you really want to hear their issues). But asking them why they said “no” or pressuring them to dance with you is not the right move right at this moment. The only thing you need to do right at this moment of rejection, is get out of their space and line of sight.

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One more thing, yes this stuff matters because it’s a validation of your abilities as a dancer. The vision you have in your head of what you look like and feel like as a dancer is validated through the people that you dance with. If they all say “yes” then you must be doing well. Right ? Wrong. Sometimes some people say “yes” to you because of your personality, not because of your abilities. Sometimes there is a certain amount of social obligation going on which no one likes to talk about. Sometimes someone would rather  dance than sit and you happen to be the nearest available warm body with a heart beat and a functioning pair of legs. Sometimes it’s because you’re a visiting dancer from out of town. Sometimes you’re in the company of A, B, and C and it would be rude not to dance with you. Those are just some of the instances of “yes”. While you may believe that you’re a good dancer, ‘good’ is relative and the scale by which you judge that idea is based on local factors. And the reason this stuff matters is because we want to believe that we’re doing well, and if X doesn’t say “yes” to us, either they’re crazy or…ummm….well…we don’t even want to consider only other possibility that we … ummm we aren’t…ummm…that good.

So here’s some sage advice: If you’re wanting to dance with X, private lessons! Seriously. Take lots of private lessons to clean up your dance. Study. Practice. So that when the time comes and X happens to be available, that you’re ready for X and said ‘rejection’ never happens.

Funny thing about X, there’s always another one. YMMV.

  097: Milonga Fear | 099: Saying ‘No’ 

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