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

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

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
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