Tango: my life as a not-so-good leader

And you thought that YOU were the worst dancer in the world ?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

About the value of feedback

"A majority of women will like your lead; but this does not mean that your lead is good", my tango guru said. I found it a bit confusing. (Would it be good news if a majority of women told me that they don't like my lead?)
She meant that not-so-advanced followers (hence, the majority of them) will find my lead clear, and easy to follow. But advanced followers don't like being "instructed" to make steps. They prefer to be "invited", and make them by their own will. They prefer subtle hints to dull directives. This is what she meant.
Note that it was not a matter of soft or firm abrazo, and neither a matter of leading with arms or with chest.

Her point was: the advanced women will like a subtle lead because it is a proof that I trust them. They will appreciate that I let them take charge of some of my responsibilities.

Well, I suppose that it makes sense at a certain level. With my real-life followers though, when I try to lead this way, the ladies just miss everything, they look at me with a puzzled face and leave me after the first tango of the tanda, saying "What happens to you tonight, you're not leading anything!"

The guru knows about real life tango, and suggested that in order to avoid taking bad habits with these unsubtle women, I sould invite only advanced tangueras. But they're a minority. More over, they're most unlikely to accept an invitation by a beginner like me.
So, I'll ignore 80% of the women, and I'll get refusals by 90% of the remaining 20%. Instead of 50 tangos in a year, I'll dance one.

posted by Pablo  # 7:47 AM
I've been reading your blog from the beginning. I'm really enjoying it. Men work through a lot of the same problems. I'm eager to continue reading up to the present so I can see where it all has led you.

Your bewilderment over what is a good lead or a too-strong lead, or whatever, is quite understandable, and yet it is so easy to resolve! I claim to have the only men's practica in North America, called La Practica del Infierno, which I run in New York's Hell's Kitchen. Nothing is stopping anyone else from doing the same thing, but they don't (yet). Maybe you'll be the next one!

Get three guys to lead you in various styles of tango and milonga. All will be revealed. It isn't mysterious. Just dance with a few different people and you'll see exactly what's good and what's bad. No explanation will ever match the immediacy and relevance of just getting somebody to do it with you. Good luck!

Jai de Nueva York
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