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

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

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Change partners! 

There were four guys more at the class yesterday. Not really a surprise for anybody, as it's usually unbalanced (always more guys) yet yesterday's shortage of followers broke the record. But, somehow to my surprise, everything went smoothly, women spontaneously leaving their current leader for another one, each time a new
tango was beginning, and not coming back to their usual partner before they had danced with all the other leaders. I suspect they were feeling guilty because of all the absentees.

Usually the women's shortage is less obvious (say, one guy more) and, whatever the teachers may say, each woman consistently stay with her partner, thinking that out of the ten other ladies in the room, there sure will
be one that will change and dance with the lone fellow. The problem is that they all think this way, and the guy remains alone. And I end up dancing with the teacher.

posted by Pablo  # 2:02 AM (0) comments

Monday, October 25, 2004

so sad 

"You look so sad. Do you want to dance with me?"
Karen had crossed the milonga, from her table to the bar where I was sipping my drink, and had gently extended her little hand to reach my arm and get my attention. She was arguably the prettiest girl in the place, in any case the youngest one. She had the appropriate size, weight (a little smaller than me, light) and level (just one step above mine). Well, thinking of it, our last dance was already a few weeks ago, and in the meantime she had been dancing a lot, so possibly it was my last chance to dance with her, before the level gap becomes too obvious.
(Tango is such a simple thing for followers!) Plus, she had been taking classes with my teachers for a while, so she would be familiar with my style. More over, she was the only girl I knew in the milonga, I had not danced
up to then, so practically she was my only reasonable hope to spend some time the dance floor.

I thanked her, and declined. I'm still not sure why. Maybe it was because I had seen her dancing with all these good leaders before coming to me, and I knew I could not match their skill. Or maybe it was the "You look so sad" part of her invitation, making it clear that she was doing me a favor, like giving a coin to a beggar.

Unsurprisingly, I got no further invitation by her, or by any other follower, and never left the bar for the remaining hours before the milonga closed. So sad.

posted by Pablo  # 4:17 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The unattractive friend 

The class was ending, yet nobody was in a hurry to leave. There was no class after ours, and we all wished to stay a few more minutes in the tango atmosphere before coming back to real life.
And yes, it was raining outside.

A fellow was sitting on a chair, removing his dance shoes. I hadn't found time to shake hands yet so I went to him. He was considering the evening to come, the various milongas in town, and told me he hadn't found yet a place where he would not feel embarrassed, because he feels he's such a bad leader.

And he is. He took up argentine tango more than one year ago, not coming on a steady basis though.He skipped classes more than once. All the same, he should be on par with the other students, because he has a salsa and swing background. And above everything, he's always wearing an expensive suit, making him the most elegant leader in the classroom. Well, the teacher also has one, but he puts it only when demo time comes.
But for the moment, he's just not getting it. He stubbornly pushes his partner from one wall to another, ignoring the other dancers who might be in the way. Once arrived to destination he breaks the abrazo and comes back to the first wall, followed at some distance by the... well, yes, by the follower.

I took a seat too and told him that I was sometimes going to a certain sunday night practica, with a lot of space and a full range of levels, from shy one-lesson damzels to teachers practising their vaulting patterns. The former being the more numerous, and the latter not here to impress anyone but actually to practise. I was embellishing the whole thing somehow, of course. Another fellow, with a similar experience of tango (one year and something), also a regular of this very practise sat with us and basically approved, adding comforting words such as "Don't think you're the only beginner in town", "Don't be impressed by what the other dancers do; maybe it looks good to you, but who knows, possibly they're doing the only steps they know and have been doing for
years; if they came to our class they'd look as clumsy as you...er, I mean as anybody."

As we were both trying to convince him ("Most probably one of us will be there, so we'll introduce you to the ladies..."), an old radio broadcast surfaced in my memory. A teeny girl-around-the-corner was explaining the utmost necessity of having an "ugly girlfriend" with you when you go to parties, so that comparatively you'll look beautiful, or at least reasonably attractive. Of course the ugly friend (or the fat friend, if you're a bit over-weight) must not know,and believe that you're going out together just because you're liking her.
By Jove! I was just doing the same: if he'd come to my practise then I would not be the worst leader in the place any more. Who knows, maybe some ladies, realizing he's going to invite them, may jump in my arms to escape from him.

Suddenly I considered with a different eye the warm insistance with whom some more experienced dancers of my friends' had tried to make me come to their milongas last year, by a time when I had attended only a few lessons. After remaining silent for a moment, I turned to the guy: "Well, of course there is no point coming if it stresses you. Join when you'll feel ready."

posted by Pablo  # 7:20 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


During the long in-between time between the beginning of this new tango season and the end of the previous one,
a handful of ladies kindly agreed to be my partner for one or the other class. (Ok, not kindly; indeed it required long negociations, that took an end only when they realized they would not find another partner.)
And so, I was considering the future series of classes with a reasonable optimism. Maybe, unlike last year, I would not have to dance with the teacher (all the most unpleasant when the teacher is a male).

Yet, when the classes actually began a few days ago, it appeared that:

-) Fab is currently moving to another flat that she just bought, and all her spare time for the weeks to come will be spent carrying furniture.
-) Dolly has been sent by her boss to a distant (400 miles to the north) town where she is likely to stay for about two months.
-) Maria is finalizing a kind of Ph.D focused on David Hume's work and is too busy to do any other activity. Hume used to philosophize about empirism, which is somehow funny, as because of him my own empirism
of tango this season is endangered.
-) Tania has just found a part-time job to finance her studies. Or what she thought was a part-time job. Yet Mc Donald's well-known motto is "twice the work, half the pay", and so just surviving means she has to work so hard that she has neither time nor energy left for tango.

So, without any partner for the classes, this season won't be as rosy as it was supposed to be. It seems I'm stuck at Intermediate level. Who knows, maybe I'll even regress to beginner.

posted by Pablo  # 4:18 AM (0) comments


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